Kobe Bryant once revealed what it was like to face off against Michael Jordan. Although the majority of the NBA community includes only LeBron James and Michael Jordan in the GOAT debate, there is no denying that Kobe deserves to be a part of the conversation. After all, the Black Mamba managed to win 5 NBA championships with the Los Angeles Lakers and is arguably one of the most skilled and hardworking players in the history of the NBA.
Unlike LeBron, Kobe got to play against Jordan since he came into the league during the 1996 NBA Draft. NBA fans will remember that MJ was still in his prime at this point and winning consecutive championships for the Chicago Bulls.
Although one might assume that a rookie Bryant would feel very intimidated by Michael Jordan, Kobe later revealed that his feelings were the complete opposite. That said, let us take a closer look and hear about Bryant’s narrative on his first encounter with Jordan.
Kobe Bryant believed that he was as big a threat as Michael Jordan
In order to make it to the NBA and establish a career as a star, a player has to believe that he is the best from the very beginning. The confidence that comes with believing in one’s own superior abilities is essential to continue playing at a high level. Bryant had already likely realized this by the time he started playing for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Be that as it may, Michael Jordan’s peak seemed so unreal at the point that players allegedly feared him and viewed him as some sort of legendary figure. When one player tried to push these beliefs onto Kobe, he revealed how he shrugged them off without hesitation due to his innate mentality.
“The first time I was getting ready to face Jordan, I had a teammate who goes, ‘Hey you want some advice? Whatever you do, don’t look him in the eye.’ Wait, excuse me? Why the hell would I not look him in the eye. I don’t think my teammate understood that I’m that too. Can’t f*cking look me in the eye either buddy.”
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Telling the Black Mamba to fear an opponent that he had never played against might not have been the best move to make. Although Bryant took a few more years to start winning titles and establish his own legacy, there is no denying that he deserves to be compared to and held on par with players like Michael Jordan. At least in terms of mentality and approach to the game.