Lakers news: Kobe Bryant had a legendary NBA career that spanned for two decades, and during his time in the league, he has constantly drawn comparisons to Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan, the guy widely considered as the greatest of all-time.
MJ was Kobe’s childhood hero, his idol, his inspiration, and that remains true even though he’s already retired from the NBA. However, it is also true that throughout his career, Bryant has worked tirelessly to be recognized as a better player than Jordan.
In fact, Kobe admitted in an interview with The Players Tribune that he was already looking forward to proving himself to MJ as a rookie in 1996.
“It was a huge honor. It became very serious to me because I didn’t want to make it seem like I was some ‘bubblegum’ player. And the hype about going against Mike — ‘Let’s go. Show me.’ I’ve been watching you play my whole life. Show me. Everybody calling you ‘Black Jesus’ … And I went out there and we went head up. I think his respect and appreciation for me really grew that day because you saw on the biggest stage I didn’t shy away from that confrontation. I looked forward to that confrontation.”
Kobe and MJ faced each other for the first time on December 17, 1996. The Bulls survived the Lakers in a 129-123 overtime victory. Jordan finished with 30 points, nine rebounds, and three assists in 47 minutes, while Bryant only had five points, a rebound, and a block in 10 minutes of action. Chicago
While the numbers will tell how MJ dominated Kobe and the Lakers, what it didn’t tell you was the Black Mamba’s resilience in guarding the best basketball player in the world. Yes, Bryant was torched, but he never allowed himself to be intimidated, he did the best he could to stand his ground, and he never backed down.
It took Kobe a while to become a superstar in the NBA, but his first encounter with MJ paved the way for him to carve everything that he accomplished in his career.
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