This was the first true duel between Jordan and Bryant, one in which they both scored more than 30 points (Jordan had 36 to Bryant’s 33). Bryant, then 19, showed no fear, going blow for blow against the best basketball player on the planet — even hitting a fadeaway over him. Speaking of that move: It was in this game that Bryant asked Jordan how he performed a particular post move. Jordan told him to feel the defender with his legs so he’d know which way to spin.
Even then, Jordan showed respect to the up-and-coming Bryant, telling reporters after the game, « I think it’s just a matter of time for him. You realize how good he is. » Perhaps Jordan was generous with his praise because of his own success in the game — and his team’s 21-point victory.
Dec. 17, 1997: Bulls 104, Lakers 83
Jordan: 12 of 22 shooting (36 points), 11 of 12 free throw shooting, five rebounds, four assists
Bryant (reserve): 12 of 20 shooting (33 points), 3 of 5 3-point shooting, 6 of 9 free throw shooting, three rebounds, two assists
One of Kobe’s best games vs. Michael Jordan (1997) pic.twitter.com/5Pi4U5sRAY
— Kobe Highlights & Motivation (@kobehighlight) February 17, 2021