Michael Jordan’s Aide Offers a Glimpse of Kobe Bryant’s Goofy Relationship With the NBA Legend

Published 01/26/2021, 4:09 PM EST
Kobe Bryant (8) of the Los Angeles Lakers shares a laugh with Michael Jordan (23) of the Washington Wizards during the game at Staples Center (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)


For ardent fans of the NBA, the relationship between Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant was as strong as a brick wall. MJ was in the last leg of his career when young Kobe was only starting out as a player. The two formed a close bond over their mutual love of the game.

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But both of them were also quite competitive. Analyst Michael Wilbon was close to Jordan and witnessed this relationship blossom first hand. Wilbon worked for the Washington Post when Black Jesus was with the Wizards.

ATLANTA – FEBRUARY 9: Kobe Bryant #8 of the Western Conference All Stars talks with Michael Jordan #23 of the Eastern conference All Stars during the 2003 NBA All-Star Game at the Phillips Arena on February 9, 2003 in Atlanta, Georgia. The West won 155-145 in the first ever double-overtime All-Star Game. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2003 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

Aside from their competitive drives, they were also notorious trash-talkers. After one of his trademark performances, Kobe would pull Wilson aside and have a hearty exchange with him regarding MJ.

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“People just didn’t understand the kind of relationship they had. I got a glimpse of that as some of that played out here in Washington when Michael was with the Wizards as both an executive and a player,” said Wilbon on Get Up.

Kobe would often just drift over when he saw me and I’d get an elbow in the ribs and he would lean over when nobody else could hear and just say, ‘How would the old man have done tonight? How would your boy have done tonight?’… It was so funny it would happen periodically.”

Kobe Bryant revered Michael Jordan

The Black Mamba had grown up watching the exploits of Jordan with the Chicago Bulls in the NBA. Naturally, he adored, admired, and respected his idol. He would seek MJ’s advice on the court even as the game was going on.

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As Michael Wilbon puts it, this was borne out of Kobe’s idol worship, “Kobe had such fun with it and there was such a reverence, not just a friendship but a reverence for his basketball idol.”

5 March 2010: Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) shoots a free throw against the Charlotte Bobcats during an NBA basketball game at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina on March 5, 2010. (Photo by Chris Keane/Icon SMI/Icon Sport Media via Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Lakers‘ greatest ever player may be no more, but his legacy lives on. He is etched in the folklore of the NBA. And like his hero, Michael Jordan, his ability to give 105% time every time on the court will continue to inspire the next generation.

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Bharat Aggarwal

755 articles

Bharat Aggarwal is a sports analyst for EssentiallySports, covering Formula 1 and NBA. A Delhi University graduate, Bharat has multi-year experience in sports writing, having closely worked with the content strategy aspect as well. Bharat Aggarwal supports Manchester United, Lewis Hamilton, Cristiano Ronaldo, Rafael Nadal, Dirk Nowitzki, Sachin Tendulkar, Ayrton Senna, Kristaps Porzingis, and Dallas Mavericks.

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