A historical and heartwarming moment took place between Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant on December 17, 1997, at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. As the Chicago Bulls hosted the Los Angeles Lakers, Bryant asked Jordan a question about his turnaround jumper during the middle of the game, and the Bulls legend gave a detailed answer.
Many basketball fans wondered why Bryant asked Jordan such a comprehensive question while they were competing against each other. Unsurprisingly, the Lakers icon was being a student of the game and wanted his basketball fundamentals to be just as flawless as Jordan’s.
Kobe Bryant on Michael Jordan: His technique was perfect
In 2015, Bryant told Ahmad Rashad the sole reason why he bent over and asked Jordan a question during the middle of the game. The five-time champion wanted to ensure that his technique was on par with Black Jesus.
“I learned a lot this game,” Bryant told Rashad. “A lot about how technically sound Michael was. It’s one thing in watching him play, and then it’s another thing playing against him. His technique was flawless. I wanted to make sure my technique was just as flawless. That was very inspiring for me.”
Both Jordan and Bryant put on spectacular shows on December 17, 1997. However, His Airness got the last laugh.
Michael Jordan’s Bulls defeated Kobe Bryant’s Lakers
The Bulls defeated the Lakers by a final score of 104-83. Jordan finished with 36 points, five rebounds, and four assists, while Bryant put up 33 points, three boards, and two assists off the bench.
Jordan won his fifth regular-season MVP, sixth championship, and sixth Finals MVP in 1997-98. The Bulls beat the Utah Jazz in the 1998 NBA Finals. MJ’s final shot with Chicago was a game-winning jumper over Bryon Russell in Game 6.
Bryant and the Lakers were four wins away from facing Jordan and the Bulls in the Finals. LA got swept by the Jazz in the 1998 Western Conference Finals. It would have certainly been a treat for basketball fans to watch Jordan and Bryant face each other on the NBA’s biggest stage.
Because they were both fierce competitors, Jordan and Bryant developed a strong relationship. The latter called the former his big brother and said he wouldn’t have won five championships with the Lakers if he didn’t listen to the advice he received from the 10-time scoring champion.
Jordan was devastated when Bryant died in 2020 in a tragic helicopter crash. He not only spoke at the Black Mamba’s public memorial at Staples Center, but the Hall of Famer also captivated the basketball world with a powerful speech.
MJ gave a moving speech about his close friend
Jordan cried during his entire speech about Bryant. The 14-time All-Star shared genuine stories about his late-night texts and wonderful times with the Lakers great, who is widely viewed as the second-best shooting guard in NBA history behind Jordan.
“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,” Jordan said. “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. Either ice cream, Cokes, hamburgers, whatever you have a love for. If you have to walk, you would go get it. If you have to beg someone, you would go get it … When Kobe Bryant died, a piece of me died. And as I look in this arena and across the globe, a piece of you died, or else you wouldn’t be here. Those are the memories that we have to live with, and we learn from.”
Bryant may no longer be with us, but his legacy and spirit will undoubtedly never be forgotten.