Michael Jordan saw something in Kobe Bryant before anybody else, and never hesitated to praise the Los Angeles Lakers icon even at a young age. Back in 1998, during Kobe’s third season in the league, the Black Mamba made it to the All-Star Game, and MJ was already in awe of him.
Kobe was still very young and trying to find his place in the league, but the Chicago Bulls legend knew he was special and let people know during the All-Star Game that season.
As we saw on Jordan and the Bulls’ docu-series « The Last Dance, » he was very high on Kobe that season.
« That little Laker boy’s gonna take everyone 1-on-1. He don’t let the game come to him; he goes and takes it. If I was his teammate, I wouldn’t pass him the f***ing ball. If you want the ball again, you better rebound, » Jordan told a locker room that included legends like Reggie Miller, Penny Hardaway and Shawn Kemp, among others.
The Eastern Conference won that game, 135-114, with MJ dropping 23 points for his side, winning the MVP award. As for Kobe, he dropped 18 points, the highest of the West that year.
The relationship between Bryant and Jordan grew up to become a deep friendship. His Airness became a mentor and a friend for Kobe until the latter’s last day in this world.
After Kobe was killed in a fatal helicopter crash, Jordan revealed more details about their relationship, calling Bryant a ‘little brother’ during his memorial service. More recently, MJ was in charge of inducting Kobe to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame alongside Bryant’s wife, Vanessa.