“Kobe Really Cared About Michael”: Magic Johnson Recalls the Special Bond Between Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant

May 3, 2020 5:30 pm

Michael Jordan has always been a definition of competitiveness on the court. Very few would know what he felt for his opponents or teammates. His body language in the game comes as a stark difference to him as a person on the outside. Episode 5 of ‘The Last Dance’ is going to broadcast Michael Jordan’s relationship with Kobe Bryant. Prior to this, Magic Johnson revealed a different side to the duo’s equation.

While many look up to Michael Jordan as a role model, Magic says, “Kobe respected guys but it was different [with Michael],” Magic told Arash Markazi of Los Angeles Times, “Kobe idolized Michael in a way that was different from anybody else.”

It all started in ’98 NBA All-Star

Johnson admitted that the ignition point of this special relationship was the 1997-98 NBA All-star. Jordan was playing his last as part of the Bulls and Kobe was looking forward to shining in his first All-Star. “You could see the beginning of this special relationship that was going to take place and start forming then,” Johnson said.

Johnson fondly remembered the time he played in the 1992 Olympics when the torch was passed to Michael. “It was like, ‘Man, I’m trying to be like you but I also want to show you what I got in this All-Star game too.’ I loved the fact that I was there and I could witness it just like Larry [Bird] and I witnessed during the [1992] Olympics, how we were passing the torch to Michael. Some things you never forget and that was a moment I’ll never forget — the torch being passed.”

Michael Jordan never had such a thing for anybody says Magic

“Both of them never talked publicly about it but I think they could understand each other.” This equation of mutual respect and love never really came out in the open for most to know. But Magic says, Kobe always wanted to be like Jordan off the court as well.“Kobe wanted to go get to that level. That’s what he always told me, ‘I want to be like you and Michael. Not only on the court but I want to be like you guys off the court.’ That was one of the last things Kobe told me. He was chasing those six championships and he always wanted Michael’s respect.”

It was when Kobe passed away at the start of this year that many realized what the two had between them. Jordan called Kobe his ‘little brother’ at his memorial service. “When Kobe Bryant died, a piece of me died,” he recalled their late-night conversations and was in tears on the stage at the Staples Center.

“Kobe didn’t have a lot of friends but he really had a good friend in Michael. I think they could go to [places in] conversations that nobody could go to, in terms of on those levels. He knew that Michael really cared about him and vice versa, Kobe really cared about Michael.” Magic told.

Knowing how Michael has had his rivalries and competition with numerous players, Magic admits that he’s going to miss his ‘little brother’. “Michael is going to miss those conversations. He’s going to miss his little brother. I’m just happy somebody went even deeper into Michael’s world and he could say, ‘This was my little brother,’. Because he didn’t say that about anybody else.”


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