The moment Michael Jordan retired, everyone was looking for the “new Jordan.” The league was looking for a superstar that would take over the torch, and the late great Kobe Bryant was the closest comparison we got. Same position, similar built, same competitive drive – at least that’s what we thought.
Kobe’s complete dedication to basketball was the most significant issue he had with Shaq. If you wanted Kobe’s respect and acceptance, then you had to be about basketball 24/7. Every moment was a test, and every practice was like a game. The only player to even come close to Jordan’s competitive drive. He even gave himself a nickname – Mamba. But, Kobe saw a clear difference between him and Jordan. Something he realized when he would spend time with MJ.
“It’s fun, we’re really different. He’s crazy, he’ll compete at anything. He’ll compete with any and everything, I won’t. I’ll only compete with things I’m good at.”Kobe Bryant, All The Smoke
When Kobe Bryant, self-proclaimed “Black Mamba,” tells you your competitive drive is “crazy,” you know you got a problem. Kobe went on to elaborate that MJ would talk about basketball all the time, throwing out hypotheticals like “my ’91 against your ’03?” and add stuff like “I would’ve destroyed you.” No surprise there.
The way Kobe told the story, it seemed he isn’t very interested in that sort of comparison, but he would remind MJ who he’s talking to. One of the rare people who could say that to MJ and Jordan would acknowledge that. Kobe pointed out he’s not as competitive about his other ventures and activities after basketball, and that’s where MJ and he are quite different.
Kobe Bryant, saying he’s not as competitive as someone. Miracles do happen.