Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. The master and the student. The two players have always been compared for the similarity of their technical qualities. But for the second, a big difference separated them.
When Michael Jordan retired in 2003, the NBA was looking for a successor. Who will be the new MJ, this new figure of basketball? Present in the league for 7 years at that time, Kobe Bryant was already a superstar. And logically, he was the designated successor to the former Bulls icon. The same position, the same style of play, a similar skillset and above all, a killer mentality in every way identical.
At least identical on the floor. Because if the two players were real monsters thirsty for victory on the court, they differed on one point according to Kobe: when the Mamba stopped at the limits of the basketball court, Jordan wanted to win in absolutely everything he did.
This is notably what the Lakers legend explained on All The Smoke at the very beginning of 2020, a few days before the dramatic helicopter crash.
It’s funny, we’re really different. He’s crazy, he wants to win at anything. He’s going to want to win for everything and nothing, not me. I’m only going to want to win at things I’m good at.
So Kobe considered himself a little more reasoned than Jordan. When the Black Mamba, one of the fiercest competitors in NBA history, classified you as « crazy, » as he explained later in the show, you most certainly are…really.
This makes it easy to imagine the former Bulls’ obsession with winning, no matter what activity he does. This includes golf and cards, two of Jordan’s favorite activities during his career. Just like on the basketball court, His Airness wanted to tear everyone down.
To support his explanation of Jordan’s competitiveness, the Lakers legend goes on to share an amusing anecdote. While discussing a non-basketball topic with Jordan, Jordan couldn’t help but return to the orange ball and explain that his 1991 Bulls would have destroyed Kobe’s 2003 Lakers… Jordan in the text.
In short, Kobe explains that MJ is even more competitive than he is. Hard to believe at first glance, but when the Mamba says it, we believe it. The former Laker made a point of demolishing everything that came in front of him on the floor exclusively. While the former Bull seeks to demolish everyone, everywhere, all the time.
A difference that says a lot about Jordan’s state of mind, and that gives a glimpse of the hell that could be a whole game to defend against him.