No two players in NBA history will ever be as linked as Kobe “Bean” Bryant and Michael “Jeffrey” Jordan. You can argue Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell, or Magic Johnson and Larry Bird; however, those players had different approaches to this beautiful game that we love.
Kobe and MJ, are damn near identical in both method and execution. Both played at 6’6 and roughly 200 pounds in their prime, the resemblance is too striking. Not to mention you can search all over YouTube and find countless videos displaying similar shots and moves between the two. If you ask me, the similarities between the two are downright SCARY. To make things even crazier, their respective careers by the numbers, are nearly identical as well. Teammates in common, (Ron Harper, Horace Grant, John Salley and Tyronn Lue) both coached by one Phil Jackson, Kobe and MJ cannot escape each other’s existence if they tried.
This game marks the last meeting between Kobe and MJ. The Lakers were in contention for a 4-Peat, while the hapless Wizards were trying to keep afoot in the Eastern Conference playoff race. I know the video says duel, but for clarity, Jordan was primarily guarded by Rick Fox while Kobe was guarded by Jerry Stackhouse. Watching this game live as a kid, this was clearly the moment to me where Kobe blatantly took the crown as the face of the NBA. 55 Points, 42 in the first half! You could see it in Kobe’s eyes that the lessons were over. He aced whatever test Jordan had prepared for him, with flying colors. As a fan, it was gut-wrenching to see Jordan on his last legs, even though he looked better at 40 than a lot of players will ever look at 20.