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Kobe Bryant Thought He'd 'Destroy' Michael Jordan in 1st Meeting

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistDecember 16, 2017

INGLEWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 1: Kobe Bryant #8 of the Los Angeles Lakers defends against Michael Jordan #23 of the Chicago Bulls on February 1, 1998 at The Forum in Inglewood, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1998 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

Appearing on UConn head women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma's Holding Court with Geno Auriemma podcast on Wednesday, Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant discussed his mindset entering his first on-court meeting with Michael Jordan.

During the podcast (h/t Nick Schwartz of For The Win), Bryant said he expected to have his way with MJ in 1996: "I was thinking in my mind, I didn't care. I'm going to destroy this guy. I don't care if I'm 18, I'm coming for blood."

Bryant said his attitude quickly changed, though, when His Airness dunked on him early in the game:

"And the first thing he did, they ran a fifth-down sequence in the triangle. He caught the ball in the corner and he made his little pirouette spin that he does and sneaks baseline. I fell for it, and he went by me and dunked it.

"I remember just laughing to myself all the way up the court. I've seen that move thousands of times and I can't believe I just fell for it. And then after that, it was like, 'OK, let's get to work.' Every time I faced him I wanted to see how he was going to respond to his same moves."

The game Bryant mentioned was just his 19th career NBA regular-season contest after being selected with the No. 13 overall pick in the 1996 NBA draft out of Lower Merion High School.

Chicago went on to win the game 129-123 with Jordan scoring 30 points and Bryant finishing with only five points in 10 minutes of play.

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Jordan won his fifth of six career NBA championships that season, while Kobe and the Lakers fell to the Utah Jazz in the second round of the playoffs.

Although MJ got the better of Bryant on that day, the latter went on to have one of the greatest NBA careers in history.

Kobe was an 18-time All-Star, a five-time champion, a two-time scoring champion, a two-time NBA Finals MVP and a one-time regular-season MVP.

He is also third on the all-time scoring list with 33,643 points, which puts him 1,351 points ahead of fourth-place Jordan.

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