Kobe Bryant Channeled Michael Jordan To Recover From Historic NBA Hammering

Published 08/30/2021, 8:00 PM EDT
January 22, 2014 Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant during the first half in a game between the Miami (Fl) Hurricanes and the Duke Blue Devils (Photo by Juan Salas/Icon SMI/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)


If there is one thing that Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan have in common, it’s their mentality. Whether it comes to winning or losing, the two have a similar way of dealing with things. Back when the Los Angeles Lakers won their 12th NBA championship, they had to get past the Portland Trail Blazers to reach the NBA Finals. For a change of pace, Kobe Bryant struggled to play against them and did not even win the Finals MVP. And despite winning that series, his body transformed and he worked on it which only made him better, just like MJ.

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The Portland Trail Blazers bullied Kobe Bryant?

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Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan has always admitted that the Detroit Pistons were and will always remain his worst nightmare. This was a franchise that kicked him out of the playoffs three times in a row, stunting his stardom. Their aggressive defense against the high-scoring Bulls superstar tormented him and eventually became known as ‘The Jordan Rules”.

Something similar happened to Kobe back in the 2000 Western Conference Finals against the Portland Trail Blazers. In a recent interview, Richard Jefferson clearly explained Kobe’s condition against Portland. He said, “Kobe was barbeque chicken at the post.”

To this, Robert Horry responded, “Only with Bonzo. But Bonzi had barbeque chickened everybody. In that Portland series, Kobe was so determined to stop him by himself, and it was Bonzi and Steve Smith. And they are some of the best post two’s and three’s ever to play this game. And Phil was like, ‘No we are not going to double-team'”

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How did the Black Mamba come back from this?

Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant (24) takes a breather against the Denver Nuggets during the second half of the Lakers’ 103-88 game 1 first round NBA playoff game win at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, April 29, 2012. AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post (Photo By AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

When this happened, there was a visible physical transformation. Kobe had gained weight, just like Jordan did back when he was in a tussle with the Pistons. But Kobe was not one to let that take a toll on himself for too long, again, like MJ.

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“Kobe, couple years later, started gaining weight. He started lifting more. They called it the Kobe beef. So, instead of saying someone’s talking trash, this was like revisionist history. So you’re like ‘Oh. that’s why Kobe ended up lifting because he really struggled in that series. Also why Jordan went back and lifted a bunch because he struggled against the Pistons. And so he got stronger,” said Jefferson.

This is what Mamba mentality was all about. Constantly working on himself no matter what and Kobe’s struggles didn’t come in the way of winning the title, but he never wanted to be put in that position again.

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Yashima Bhatia

1468 articles

Yashima Bhatia is an NBA writer for EssentiallySports who specialises in providing nuanced predictions and updates for matches. She has a Bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communication. Yashima's love for playing the game came up at a young age, when the excitement of the games coupled with the intensity of the Playoffs had her hooked.

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