Denying His Idol for a Face Off, Kobe Bryant Contrasted His Competitive Mindset Only To Evade Michael Jordan’s Advantage

Published 09/22/2023, 10:50 AM EDT

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If there was a discussion about who is the GOAT for simply being competitive, it would still be difficult to pick between Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. The duo had clashed 8 times on the NBA court and kept up with their competitive mind games. The infamous match against Wizards where Bryant thumped his authority by scoring 55 points leading the Lakers to a 108-94 victory has now become a legend. However, when it came to a different sport, Bryant was not ready to go up against His Airness. The Bean was adamant about preserving his dignity in a ball pitch he has no experience with.

There are stories about Bryant’s famous ‘Mamba Mentality’ extending even beyond the court. But there was one course he drew the line at, much to MJ’s disappointment.

The time when Kobe Bryant rejected Michael Jordan


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As a resurfaced YouTube video revealed, Bryant was unwilling to compete in a sport he has never played. Especially not with Jordan, who is competitive on any ground. “Michael is competitive in all things that don’t make sense,” Bryant stated this well-known fact. He flattered him a little when he refused to shoot some holes on the golf course even once.


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When Bryant began his NBA career with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1996, Jordan was leading the Chicago Bulls dynasty. Each time they clashed, the young upstart left a lasting impression on his idol.

Jordan invited Bryant to play his second favorite sport – golf several times, only to be turned down. “He would try to get me to play golf all the time. ‘Mike, I know about you. I’ve written book reports about you in elementary school. I know you started playing golf in North Carolina. So that means if I’m doing the math, you’ve been playing golf for like a hundred years.’ I have not picked up a golf club ever. The last thing you’re going to do is get me on a golf course and annihilate me. Not gonna do it.

Bryant has narrated different versions of this story before. He once called himself a “realist” for refusing to meet Jordan on the greens. Nonetheless, there were moments where Kobe Bryant’s competitive mindset reared in things not related to basketball.

Kobe Bryant’s beef with Air Jordans


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The 5x NBA champion’s admiration for Jordan trumped his competitive instincts on several occasions. It became obvious from DeMar DeRozan’s story about the Black Mamba he shared recently.

According to DeRozan, he wore Bryant’s signature sneakers for most of his career. However, he wore Jordan 10s in a game against the Lakers. Bryant apparently looked at them and went, “‘The f**k you got on your feet,’ and shook his head at me.


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The Lakers annihilated the Bulls in that game. That’s when DeRozan swore to never wear Air Jordans in front of Bryant. It sounds like the ‘Mamba Mentality’ can be quite picky about where it matters.

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Written by:

Caroline John


One take at a time

Caroline John is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. She has been covering athletes outside the sports arena since the start of her reporting career. A writer at heart, she graduated with a degree in journalism from a reputed university.
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Edited by:

Debmallya Chakraborty