Home Sports ‘The Last Dance’ revealed new depths to Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan’s...

‘The Last Dance’ revealed new depths to Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan’s relationship


The relationship between Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant was nothing short of special, as evidenced by Episode 5 of The Last Dance, which aired on Sunday night.

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The episode began at the 1998 All-Star Game, Jordan’s last All-Star appearance as a member of the Chicago Bulls and Bryant’s first in his career with the Los Angeles Lakers. However, that wasn’t the first on-court interaction between the two.

That interaction took place back in 1996, Kobe’s rookie year.

“I was looking forward to it,” said a young Kobe of the matchup with Jordan. “I just accept challenges. I wanted to go out there and I wanted to guard Michael. That’s the best thing about the game of basketball, that you answer these challenges day in and day out.”

Sounds familiar right? Jordan, like Kobe, was also known for his relentless pursuit of excellence.

According to Shannon Sharpe, that mentality and the way Jordan approached the game inspired Bryant.

“Kobe became what he became because of Michael Jordan … Kobe Bryant wanted to be just like Michael Jordan. The way he walked, the arm band on his elbow, the knee sleeve rolled out up over his calf, the baggy shorts, tongue out of his mouth – everything was a carbon copy of what Michael Jordan was.”

Fast forward back to 1998, Bryant didn’t even start for the Lakers but he was still voted an All-Star starter, the youngest in NBA history.

And Michael, of course, took notice of “that little Laker boy.”

“He don’t let the game come to him. He just go out there and take it. I’m going to make this a one-on-one game.”

Chris Broussard said on Monday that what seemed like criticism from Jordan and others was actually a nod to Kobe’s greatness.

“[Jordan] was the guy he looked up to and certainly modeled his game after … They were talking about him in the locker room … That’s huge that this 19-year old kid was on their mind.”

Bryant finished his first All-Star Game with 18 points and 6 rebounds in 22 minutes, while Jordan earned MVP honors with his 23 points, 6 rebounds and 8 assists.

Jalen Rose discussed the meaning of that All-Star Game for Kobe – not only in regards to his NBA future but also as it pertained to his personal relationship with Jordan.

“For [Kobe] to embrace those moments and continue to excel under the pressure of … wanting to be the all-time greatest player to do it, but to gain a relationship with Michael Jordan, where he became like a big brother to you and you learned so much from him.”

Let Kobe tell it, he wouldn’t have been the player he was without Jordan.

“Michael provided a lot of guidance for me. He’s like my big brother. I don’t get five championships without him, because he guided me so much and gave me so much great advice.”

Bryant endlessly pursued ways to improve, on and off the floor, and according to ESPN NBA columnist Jackie MacMullan, Jordan related to that on a personal level.

“During the lockout-shortened season in 1998-99, [Kobe] called and spent an hour on the phone with Jordan … and that started an almost two-decade long correspondence, because all Kobe wanted to be was Michael and Michael didn’t mind it because he saw a lot himself in Kobe.”

For Skip Bayless, Episode 5 revealed the true depths of Bryant and Jordan’s relationship.

“I didn’t appreciate just how deep the bond had become between Kobe and Michael … Kobe knew that Michael really and truly cared about him and Kobe definitely cared that much about Michael.”

Those two were indeed something special.

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