Many NBA stars have been compared to Michael Jordan, but no player has been quite as inextricably linked to His Airness as Kobe Bryant. On Sunday, the Los Angeles Lakers guard opened up a bit about his connection with Jordan.
"No words can really do it justice," Bryant said of Jordan's influence, per ESPN.com's Baxter Holmes.
Kobe also recalled his first game against Jordan and the Chicago Bulls on Dec. 17, 1996. Bryant played 10 minutes, going 2-of-5 from the field and scoring five points. Jordan, on the other hand, dropped 30 points in a 129-123 victory for Chicago.
"Getting schooled for a baseline dunk the first time I matched up with him. That was the coolest thing," Bryant said of the game, per the Chicago Tribune's K.C. Johnson.
During TNT's broadcast of the NBA All-Star Game on Feb. 14, Jordan spoke about Bryant's impending retirement and his legacy in the sport:
"What I take from [the comparison] is our competitiveness is second to none," Bryant added, per Sean Highkin of Bleacher Report.
It's impossible to say with any certainty, but it will likely be a long time before any player reaches Jordan's status in the game and collects the accolades he earned on the court. Kobe comes pretty close:
|Player Efficiency Rating||23.0||27.9|
|All-NBA First Teams||11||10|
Bryant is fighting a losing battle in trying to match Jordan's six NBA championships, though—a point he readily concedes.
"My job was to try to win as many as possible," Bryant said, per Highkin. "Six doesn't seem like it's in the cards. But I'm OK with that. I'm not obsessed with end result, end result, end result. It's about the process."
Much as Jordan did when he retired, Bryant will leave a major void in the NBA upon his departure at the end of this season.
But just as MJ proverbially passed the torch to Kobe, Tim Duncan, Shaquille O'Neal and others, Kobe will do the same for the next generation of talent, including Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis, Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns.