Jordan-Kobe stories are some of the immortal tales in NBA’s history, former Wizards star Gilbert Arenas remembers one such story from back in the day.
Along with being two of the best to ever play the game of basketball, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant are arguably the players with the toughest mentality in the NBA, ever. Kobe grew up idolizing Jordan, even structuring his game around “His Airness”.
Barely anyone thought that the 13th pick of the 1996 Draft would become the closest thing there is to MJ in years to come. But the way he played the game since coming in, made it clear to everyone that the Mamba was indeed the next Jordan.
As the future 5-time NBA champion came in, Jordan was already a 4-time NBA champion and was en route to winning 2 more to complete his tally of six. Kobe would chase those numbers for the next 20 years but end up one short.
The Lakers superstar completed his 3-peat to start the 2000s, it was around the time “Flight Mike” was hovering around the end of his career in a Wizards uniform.
Although Mike secretly admired Kobe, he was always hostile whenever he was face to face with the youngster. There’s an incident from a Wizards-Lakers match from the 2002-03 season that gives a glimpse of both their personalities.
Gilbert Arenas talks Kobe Bryant being a psycho when it came to Jordan
Former Washington Wizards all-star, Gilbert Arenas, remembers a story that Luke Walton told him. During a regular-season game between the Wizards and Lakers in 2003, Jordan walked up to Kobe and said, “you can wear the shoes, but you could never fill them.” Kobe was wearing a pair of Jordans which made MJ make the remark.
“I guess during that time Kobe didn’t say anything to anybody. So for like two weeks, they said, ‘Kobe was just mute.’ Like he didn’t talk to his players, didn’t talk to his teammates, just he was like in focus mode. It was straight like practice was just so intense. The players are like, ‘Yo, is he mad at us? Did we do something to him?’” said the former Wizards point guard.
Lakers coach Phil Jackson then told his players about the spat between his former and present best players in the league, “’No no no no, Jordan told him, when we played him, you could wear the shoes but can never fill them…’ And that’s the game where Kobe had like 55 points.” Arenas continued.