THROWBACK: How Kobe Bryant Won Michael Jordan’s Respect By Challenging Him to a One-on-One

Published 06/02/2021, 1:30 PM EDT


It’s been almost two decades since NBA fans last witnessed Michael Jordan work his magic on the court. But even now, the chatter about him has never dwindled away. He continues to be the epitome of greatness for the plethora of players that have come after him. However, apart from LeBron James, if there is anyone who has been put on the same pedestal as MJ, it is Kobe Bryant.

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Kobe tried to have a one-on-one with Jordan

Bryant had always been labeled as Jordan 2.0 and there is nothing more accurate than this. Although Jordan has more championships than Kobe, they have far more in common than one realizes. For the most part, their relentless competitive drive to win is one that is unmatched even today.

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Now, a television broadcaster and a close friend of Jordan’s, Ahmad Rashad, has spoken about the time Kobe Bryant had challenged Jordan to a one-on-on.

LA Laker Kobe Bryant takes control of the ball during a practice scrimmage in at the University of Hawaii- Manoa in Honolulu, Hawaii, Friday, Oct. 7, 2005. (Photo by Robert Kratzke/Icon SMI/Icon Sport Media via Getty Images)

Rashad revealed that sometime after Jordan had retired, the two were headed to LA for a Lakers game. Rashad narrated, “After the game, we went back to a room and it was just Michael, Phil Jackson, Kobe, and myself. And Kobe challenged him to a one-on-one game.” 

Phil had suggested Jordan help out the Lakers with practice and he even hinted at a one-on-one game between the two. Kobe just wasn’t backing down this. It was this persistent nature of Kobe’s that wanted to play against the GOAT that won MJ’s heart. While they were leaving the arena, Jordan told Rashad, “You know, I really respect that kid. Really respect that kid.”

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Kobe had always admitted that he patterned his game around Jordan’s. In fact, if their plays are seen side by side, they almost seem like reflections of each other, and Bryant had done wonders in mirroring MJ’s moves. In fact, he even took on some of MJ’s mannerisms.

There might be many players that try to surpass Jordan’s bar of greatness, but the closest one to do so was Kobe Bryant. What a sight it would have been to see the two go head to head. Although Jordan would have dominated their game, Kobe definitely would have given MJ a run for his money.

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WATCH THIS STORY: Kobe Bryant vs LeBron James: Reliving Their 2008 Epic Duel

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Yashima Bhatia

1227 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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