Many NBA players and fans worldwide say that the late great Kobe Bryant was their generation Michael Jordan. When you think about that statement, there is a lot of truth in it, especially about Kobe’s immense impact throughout his career. His physical appearance, the way he played the game, his attitude, and mentality resembled a lot to Michael Jordan, and that shouldn’t come as a surprise. However, when Kobe entered the NBA, he was more mature than many other players his age because Kobe immediately knew that he would have to learn from the best if he wants to be the best.
Tim Grover, who worked as Jordan’s fitness coach and later even with Kobe himself, said numerous players in the league wanted to be mentored by Jordan. However, most of them didn’t have the mental toughness, persistence, and sheer will to improve the same way Kobe did. On the other hand, Bryant cared about the details and knew Jordan could teach him all he needs to know to get every possible advantage against the competition.
“There’s a bunch of other athletes that came up to Michael, that wanted him to ‘mentor them. But when they found out how difficult it was to maintain that intensity and to be that relentless, most of them faded out. “But Kobe kept it up. The more information that Michael gave him, Kobe got even more thirst.” Bryant would consume every piece of advice, work through every lesson Jordan offered. Then, like an eager student, he’d report back and ask for a new assignment. “Michael thought everybody was annoying.”Tim Grover, via ESPN
When Michael gave Kobe his number, that meant something because he wouldn’t do such a thing frequently, which means he also saw the fire and passion in Kobe. Throughout the years, they built this younger brother, older brother dynamic, where Kobe would always look for advice no matter what the topic is or when. Michael would regularly get calls from Bryant at the most awkward times of the day and night, and even though he was irritated by that, he never refused to help his younger brother.
“But here’s the thing, it’s how he said [Kobe] was annoying. When he talked about Kobe as annoying, it was like your little brother that’s always like, ‘Come on, come on, let’s go, let’s go do this, let’s go.'”Tim Grover, via ESPN
In Grover’s opinion, Bryant had to earn the right to have these conversations with Jordan. At that time, Jordan was the most famous athlete on the planet, which meant many people were afraid to speak with him because they were starstruck. That wasn’t the case for Kobe, who was young, stubborn, and willing to learn, and Jordan immediately noticed that this kid has the confidence to get to that next level.
“You had to earn the right to have that conversation. So with Kobe, Michael would have not taken the next call if he didn’t see something in him.” Whether it was confidence or youthful ignorance, Bryant never questioned whether he was worthy of Jordan’s attention and mentoring. He just relentlessly pursued it. “You can’t learn if you don’t ask.”Tim Grover, via ESPN
Jordan and Bryant developed a close relationship throughout the years, and it was on Kobe Bryant’s commemoration when we saw Jordan cry while giving a speech. He accepted Kobe from day one as his younger brother and someone who was the torchbearer after he finally retired from the game of basketball. Kobe didn’t disappoint, and everything he did in the latter stages of his career allowed us to see glimpses of Michael Jordan.