"We idolized each other," Johnson said.
Kimmel introduced the Hall of Famer as the perfect person to cheer Los Angeles up, and Johnson spent much of his time reflecting on a number of Bryant stories.
He told Kimmel they played one-on-one just one time because Bryant got mad Johnson called so many fouls, and the host showed a clip of the Black Mamba saying the same thing during his appearance on the show in 2018.
Kimmel also asked Johnson about the ability of both players to capture the imagination of Los Angeles, and he said, "We both poured our heart and soul into performing every night in Los Angeles for the greatest fans on earth. ... Every night you came to Staples Center, you knew you were going to see something special, something great."
Johnson's appearance came after he provided an emotional tribute to the late Bryant and his daughter Gianna—who were among the nine people who died in Sunday's helicopter crash in Calabasas, California—on Twitter.
Kimmel revealed Johnson was booked to appear on Tuesday's show for weeks and thanked him for appearing during an emotional time for the city.
"Kobe wouldn't want me to cancel," Johnson said. "Kobe would want us all to carry on."