The perspective Kobe Bryant showed in episode 5 of The Last Dance regarding Michael Jordan was something he grew into
Kobe Bryant‘s career and life paints a picture of continual growth and betterment. It’s no secret to basketball fans that Bryant grew immensely as a person, a father, and an athlete over the years.
Always cerebral and curious as a player, his interests in the few post-retirement years included learning new languages, fresh business ventures, and storytelling, even winning an Oscar for his short film Dear Basketball.
As revealed in episode 5 of The Last Dance, Bryant, following the conclusion of his playing career, did not like to hear about the hypothetical discussions regarding him or Michael Jordan in a game of one-on-one.
"“I truly hate having discussions about who would win one-on-one. You heard fans saying, ‘Hey Kobe, you’d beat Michael one-on-one’ and I feel like, yo, what you get from me is from him. I don’t get five championships here without him. ‘Cause he guided me so much and gave me so much great advice,” Bryant said in episode 5 of The Last Dance."
He wasn’t always this way, though, especially before Jordan became a mentor for Bryant.
Phil Jackson once told of one of the first meetings between the two following Jordan’s retirement:
"“‘I want you to talk to Kobe a little bit, he tends to take over a game, you know, at a certain time in the game, and I think if you convince him to just wait, just be patient, allow the game to kind of come to him when it’s necessary for him to do some things,’ because the team kind of loses their offensive direction. So I get in this room [with Jordan and Bryant] and he sits down and he goes, first thing Kobe says is, ‘I could kick your a— one on one,'” Jackson once told."
This was the birth of what would become a beautiful brotherly bond between Jordan and Bryant, and clearly, over the years Bryant grew to cherish what Jordan had to teach him as his “big bro.”
Growing and maturing often creates new points of view, fresh perspectives. It’s no surprise that Bryant, with his entire career that was built on Jordan behind him, didn’t want to entertain the one-on-one debates, and grew out of wanting to kick Jordan’s butt.
One of Isaac Newton’s famous quotes is “If I have seen further, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants,” crediting those who came before him with discovering principles that allowed him to do more.
It seems that’s how Bryant thought of Jordan.
As far as Jordan’s thoughts on Bryant kicking his butt in their meeting in 2000? Jackson said Jordan’s response was, “You just might.”