Why Did Michael Jordan Call Kobe Bryant His Little Brother?

Published 10/16/2021, 11:39 PM EDT
Michael Jordan (Photo by Jesse Grant/WireImage)


For any NBA player, befriending Michael Jordan can be like entering a sanctum. MJ, with his wisdom, holds the power to change lives just by giving an advice or two. So when Kobe Bryant entered the draft, he was hell bent on spending time around the greatest in the game.

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From Day 1, KB never allowed anyone to underestimate or sideline him as a rookie. He had a competitive attitude just like his idol and would often keep the ball possession to himself to prove that. All this, and much more, led to His Highness getting impressed by the Mamba. But how did they build a brotherly bond?

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Kobe Bryant, a brother like none other

Once in a monologue, Michael Jordan had expressed, “Maybe it surprised people that Kobe and I were very close friends.” Certainly, this was a surprising revelation given their on-court dynamics. The world remembers how they could trash-talk in an All-Star game and how Kobe would do everything to guard MJ while the latter would still manage a jumper.

But Kobe was a different breed, a real student of the game. So this had an impressive effect on MJ, who always recognised true passion. As Air Jordan had detailed, “for whatever reason, always tends to get in your stuff. Your closet, your shoes, everything. It was a nuisance, if I can say that word. But that nuisance turned into love over a period of time.”

These were early signs of a friendship in-the-making. In the documentary, The Last Dance’s Episode 5, it showed how MJ told Tim Hardaway in the locker room that Bryant was built for greatness. 

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When Michael Jordan gave in to KB’s persistence

The Black Mamba wanted to learn from the best. That’s why he wouldn’t think twice before making the Lakers team bus wait for him to first complete his talks with MJ post games.

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As MJ added, “He used to call me, text me 11:30, 2:30, 3 in the morning. At first, it was an aggravation, but then it turned into a certain passion. This kid had passion like you would never know.”

(Denver, Colorado – Friday, May 29, 2009) Lakers guard Kobe Bryant yells out in frustration after just missing a circus shot against the Nuggets defense late in the first half in game 6 of the NBA Western Conference Finals at the Pepsi Center. (Photo by Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

The thing was, picking MJ’s brain was no delicate task. One had to really have perseverance and show the eagerness of how badly they wanted to learn. And while none could really keep the pace, Kobe persisted and soaked the knowledge like a sponge. 

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So it was during this mentoring that Kobe became MJ’s little brother and his loss forced tears out of a man as tough as the 6x champion. Certainly, Kobe couldn’t match that achievement of six rings, but he gained the GOAT’s respect in the process. 

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Sourabh Singh

1739 articles

Sourabh Singh is an NBA sports analyst for EssentiallySports, who has been working with the site since May 2020. Prior to this, he functioned as Managing Editor at WittyFeed, followed by a stint at Decathlon. The Sports Management graduate leads an active lifestyle, veering to the mountains for off-trail adventures.

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