Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant may be some of the greatest basketball players ever and great friends who established that big brother-little brother relationship between each other during their playing days. Still, all of that didn’t stop them from trash-talking each other on any possible occasion. The two competitors are notorious for their hunger for winning, as it was only natural the two would go at each other.
MJ was on the last run of his career when a 17-year old Kobe was entering the NBA. Bryant saw an idol in His Airness, while Michael on the other side knew what Kobe’s mentality and potential could make him in the NBA world. It was the perfect match, as the two clicked right away. The similarities in their game and moves were breathtaking, as Kobe became MJ’s best student. That would continue even after their playing days, and we all saw how Kobe’s tragic passing affected the usually calm and collected MJ in one of the most emotional speeches ever.
That relationship brought us numerous unique and interesting stories of games, conversations, and encounters between the two. When Kobe Bryant appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live a few years ago, he told a story representing these two’s unmatched competitive nature and obsession with basketball. While having dinner with MJ, the conversation would turn into a debate of who is better. The 1991 version of Michael Jordan that won his first championship or a peak Kobe Bryant? MJ continued to make a case for himself through the night, but Kobe had enough and hilariously shut him down, as he told the story.
“(The) last time we had dinner he was talking about ‘My year in 1991 vs your peak year, I would’ve kicked your a**’. I said ‘Mike, come on now, enjoy the salad. We both know that’s not gonna happen.“Kobe Bryant, Jimmy Kimmel Live
Knowing MJ’s and Kobe’s characters, I can only imagine how hilarious this conversation looked. Back in 1991, MJ was 28 years old and at the peak of his power, combining his unreal athleticism with an evolved postgame and shooting touch. It seems even MJ thinks that was the year he finally figured it out and perfected his game, as that proved the be the start of his championship legacy of the ’90s.
On the other side we all know about Kobe, but when was his peak? In the early 2000s, during the afro days with Shaq, the years after when he was dominating the statistical categories, or during his last two championships? It’s hard to say, but I’m pretty sure any of these versions of Kobe Bryant would give us an intense battle with a prime Michael Jordan. Who would win is up for debate, but knowing their skill and competitive nature it would be a show for the ages.