Jason Kidd Explains Why Michael Jordan Called Kobe Bryant 'Little Laker Boy'

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMay 7, 2020

Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls (L) eyes the basket as he is guarded by Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers during their 01 February game in Los Angeles, CA. Jordan will appear in his 12th NBA All-Star game 08 February while Bryant will make his first All-Star appearance. The Lakers won the game 112-87.  AFP PHOTO/Vince BUCCI (Photo by VINCE BUCCI / AFP)        (Photo credit should read VINCE BUCCI/AFP via Getty Images)
VINCE BUCCI/Getty Images

Former NBA guard Jason Kidd said Michael Jordan typically wouldn't call players by their name until they earned his respect, which is why he referred to Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant as "little Laker boy" before the 1998 All-Star Game.

Before the L.A. sensation made his first All-Star appearance, Jordan discussed him with teammates in the Eastern Conference locker room. That was one of the highlights from Sunday night's episodes of The Last Dance, an ESPN documentary about the 1990s Chicago Bulls:

ESPN @espn

"That little Laker boy's gonna take everybody one-on-one." MJ knew what Kobe was about before the 1998 All-Star Game even started. #TheLastDance https://t.co/mm8XlShwwI

Kidd, a current Lakers assistant coach, was a member of the West squad in the 1998 All-Star Game and discussed Jordan's remarks with ESPN's Cassidy Hubbarth on Wednesday.

"Yeah, that was normally MJ's way of not giving you any respect...by not calling you by your name," he said. "Called him 'Laker boy' until he earned his respect, and I think at the of end of Kobe's career, he was calling him Kobe."

Bryant was among the people interviewed for The Last Dance. As part of Sunday's episode spotlighting his relationship with Jordan, he said the Bulls legend was "like my big brother."

The comment by the five-time NBA champion, who died Jan. 26 in a helicopter crash, resonated because of how MJ talked about Kobe during his eulogy in February:

"Maybe it surprised people that Kobe and I were very close friends. But we were very close friends. Kobe was my dear friend. He was like a little brother. Everyone always wanted to talk about the comparisons between he and I. I just wanted to talk about Kobe.

"You know all of us have brothers and sisters, little brothers, little sisters, who for whatever reason always tend to get in your stuff, your closet, your shoes, everything. It was a nuisance—if I can say that word—but that nuisance turned into love over a period of time. Just because the admiration that they have for you as big brothers or big sisters, the questions in wanting to know every little detail about life that they were about to embark on.

"He used to call me, text me, 11:30, 2:30, 3 o'clock in the morning, talking about post-up moves, footwork and, sometimes, the triangle. At first, it was an aggravation. But then it turned into a certain passion. This kid had passion like you would never know. It's an amazing thing about passion. If you love something, if you have a strong passion for something, you would go to the extreme to try to understand or try to get it."

Bryant credited Jordan for helping him reach the pinnacle of the sport, saying in The Last Dance, "What you get from me is from him."