It’s been well-documented over the years the strong relationship that Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant built. That rang even truer after his tragic passing this past January when Jordan gave a heartfelt speech to his Bryant, who he voiced that he viewed as being his little brother. Their bond was forged through a shared unwithering passion for the game of basketball and desire to be the best at their craft. With that said, Jordan once got under Bryant’s skin to the point that it resulted in him putting forth an incredible performance.
Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant’s relationship
Bryant had entered the league with huge aspirations, and it was clear that Jordan was his primary source of motivation.
The former Los Angeles Lakers star guard had many of the Hall of Famer’s moves and mannerisms put into his game.
Beyond that, Bryant had a strong passion and mindset that pushed him to great heights in his career, which along the way, earned him many comparisons to Jordan.
At the same time, his personal drive on the court also garnered the respect and bond from the former Chicago Bulls great that cultivated a deep connection. As the years passed, the two grew closer with the source of their relationship being their love for the game of basketball.
It was the intense level of competition that pushed them forward on the court, and that was something that Jordan knew he could poke at to piss off his longtime friend.
How Michael Jordan pissed off Kobe Bryant
In Jordan’s final season in the 2002-03 campaign, he had the chance to face the Lakers star for the last two times in his illustrious career.
The six-time NBA champion had got the best of the 24-year-old and Los Angeles earlier in the season as the Wizards topped them 100-99 in the November matchup. However, former NBA All-Star guard Gilbert Arenas revealed on his No Chill Podcast that loss had more meaning to Bryant as Jordan told him during the game that “he could put the shoes on, but he would never fill them.”
That had reportedly set the young star guard off as he didn’t talk to his teammates for the next couple of weeks. Bryant was steaming to prove his mentor and idol wrong about that statement that stuck with him over the next few months.
That set the table for a legendary performance from him to stick it to Jordan at Staple Center.
Kobe Bryant lit up Michael Jordan, Wizards for 55 points
Bryant had to wait his time to respond to Jordan as the two had their final matchup in late March 2003.
The Lakers star guard was ready for the challenge as he lit in Jordan and the Wizards for a 55-point performance that paced his team to a 14-point win on their home floor. That included dropping 42 points in the first half on 14-of-19 shooting from the floor along with hitting 8-of-11 attempts from 3-point range while Jordan finished with 23 points in the contest in 40 minutes played.
It was a lopsided contest that Bryant took the challenge to heart and showcased how doubt could bring the best out of him on the court. Although Jordan was on the last legs of his career with just over two weeks left and was 40 years old, the Lakers’ star’s outing was nothing short than remarkable. He stepped up to the challenge that was presented to him and knocked it out of the park
Jordan may still be held in higher prestige by many, but on that night, Bryant was undoubtedly the better player as he took to his longtime idol.