SPORTS Mamba lives on - when Kobe Bryant met Michael Jordan

SPORTS

Mamba lives on - when Kobe Bryant met Michael Jordan

By CGTN | CGTN

14:28, May 05, 2020

Kobe Bryant #9 of the Los Angeles Lakers challenges Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls in the game at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, California, February 1, 1998. /VCG

Kobe Bryant #9 of the Los Angeles Lakers challenges Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls in the game at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, California, February 1, 1998. /VCG

In the latest episode of ESPN's Michael Jordan documentary "The Last Dance," ESPN included the part of deceased Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, which caused quite a stir on the internet.

"I grew up watching Michael on TV," said Bryant, adding "And now you got a chance to go face-to-face with him. You got a chance to really see, touch and feel strength, speed, quickness, and, it was fun to be out there."

"It was a rough couple of years for me coming to the league, because at that time the league was so much older. It's not as young as it is today. So nobody was really thinking much of me. I was a kid and shot a bunch of air balls. And at that point, Michael put a lot of guidance for me."

"He said, 'if you need anything, give me a call.' He's like my big brother… I won't get five championships here without him, because he guided me so much, he gave me so much great advice."

Kobe Bryant #8 of the Los Angeles Lakers and Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls communicate with each other in the game at the United Center in Chciago, Illinois, December 17, 1997. /AFP

Kobe Bryant #8 of the Los Angeles Lakers and Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls communicate with each other in the game at the United Center in Chciago, Illinois, December 17, 1997. /AFP

Bryant said that he hated people talking about if he and Jordan could beat each other one-on-one, but when the opportunity came for him to face Jordan on the court, he never hesitated to challenge the cruelest player on earth.

He got the chance on December 17, 1997 when the Lakers came to the United Center without Shaquille O'Neal.

When Eddie Jones offered to double team Jordan, Bryant refused – the 19-year-old wanted to face him alone. He shot quick 3-pointers, exploded on the rim after receiving the ball from teammate, tried to copy Jordan's moves in posting up. In defense, he could not read Jordan's fake or his foot work and continuously committed fouls on the Bulls' No. 23.

Chicago claimed an easy win 104-83 and Jordan dropped 36 points. However, he was not lonely any more in this game because the 19-year-kid who got 33 points kept challenging him on both sides of the court.

Kobe Bryant #8 of the Western Conference All-Star Team and Michael Jordan of the Eastern Conference All-Star Team compete for the ball in the NBA All-Star Game at the Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York State, February 8, 1998. /AFP

Kobe Bryant #8 of the Western Conference All-Star Team and Michael Jordan of the Eastern Conference All-Star Team compete for the ball in the NBA All-Star Game at the Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York State, February 8, 1998. /AFP

Two months later, the two met again, in the All-Star Game on February 8, 1998. Fans loved the Lakers and Bryant so much that they voted the second-year young man an All-Star starter. In the first two quarter, the two guards again put up multiple one-on-one possessions. When last season's NBA MVP Karl Malone offered to double team Jordan, Bryant told him to "get out of his way."

The duel was over after the first two quarters because George Karl, head coach of the Western Conference All-Star Team pulled Bryant out. "A couple players came to me and said, 'I don't want to play.' David Robinson was older at that time, Karl Malone was older at that time," recalled Karl.

This time, the winner was still Jordan who put down 23 points to win the All-Star MVP award. He liked the kid but his way to show it was to beat him on the court. "He (Bryant) just wanted to come after me to go one-on-one. I would make his A** work out there," said Jordan during one timeout.

Kobe Bryant #8 of the Los Angeles Lakers defends Michael Jordan of the Chciago Bulls in the game at the United Center, December 17, 1997. /VCG

Kobe Bryant #8 of the Los Angeles Lakers defends Michael Jordan of the Chciago Bulls in the game at the United Center, December 17, 1997. /VCG

"Different animal, same beast," posted Bleacher Report on the episode.

"Kobe.. unreal," wrote Mario Hezonja of the Portland Trail Blazers.

"Miss you, Mamba," by Slam.

"Mamba forever," by Richaun Holmes of the Sacramento Kings.

"That intro just tore me apart man. Man I wish Kobe was here to see this man. Thank you for sharing that beautiful and special footage Mike! We miss you Bean," by Quinn Cook of the Lakers.

"It will never feel real Kobe isn't here with us.." by Jamal Crawford.

"PURE GREATNESS," by Pau Gasol.

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