How Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan went from rivals to shut buddies
In a bittersweet twist, Bryant had also recognized Jordan for ESPN’s hugely popular documentary series The Last Dance – due to premiering in June last year after the NBA finals, but which rose until April 2020 to fill the void in live sports left by the pandemic fill – in an episode that obviously shouldn’t begin with a dedication “In Loving Memory of Kobe Bryant”.
“He’s like my big brother,” said Bryant of Jordan on the show. “I really hate having discussions about who would win one on one. The fans were like, ‘Hey, Kobe, you’d beat Michael one on one.’ And I have a feeling, yo, what you get from me is from him. I can’t get five championships here without him because he guided me so much, he gave me so much good advice. “
Bryant sat down for an interview with the filmmakers just weeks before his death. But long before The Last Dance came into focus, the 41-year-old was reportedly aware of the existence of a treasure trove of Jordanian recordings made in the run-up to his sixth and final NBA championship with the Chicago Bulls in 1998.
It can be assumed that this knowledge at least played a supporting role in the willingness of the very private Bryant to let cameras document much more of his world than they had known in the previous year of his own career.
Like Jordan giggles (or shakes his head) at old tapes shown to him during his own interviews for the series, there are times when you may miss a few things while living it. And when Bryant put it up in 2016, somehow 20 years had magically passed.