One of the biggest questions on fans' minds throughout history has been what a battle between Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan would be like. We did get to see the players face off against each other on a few occasions, but it was never at either's best. Jordan and Kobe had an intense private game between themselves at the 1998 All-Star Game. But Jordan absolutely dominated Kobe in that game, earning the All-Star MVP accolade that night.
And when Jordan made his return to the NBA with the Wizards, he wasn't the same player that he used to be. Whereas Kobe was becoming one of the best players in the NBA under the tutelage of Jordan's former head coach Phil Jackson. But in order to see them at their best, which version would we select for Michael Jordan as his prime?
According to Kobe Bryant, that would be the 1991 version of Michael Jordan that won his first NBA championship. In a guest appearance on the Dan Patrick Show, Kobe was asked who would win in a prime battle. Initially, Kobe got a little annoyed with the question, noting that he can't answer a question of who would win in their prime without a time capsule to see what happened between himself or prime Jordan or prime LeBron. To get an answer out of Kobe, Patrick asked him which player would he have liked to face in his prime. To that Kobe had a simple answer: 1991 Michael Jordan.
Kobe: "I’ve never wasted my time talking about things that I definitively cannot win. Like we could sit here and debate who’s better, Kobe or Michael or all this other stuff. I’m not going to waste my energy until you can develop a time capsule where I can go back in time and face Jordan in 91, 92, 93, or LeBron in that kind of time capsule and put us all in the same era and they will see what’s what.”
Patrick: “Whose prime would you want to play against in a time capsule? Your prime versus their prime.”
Kobe: “Well, definitely Michael Jordan 91. No doubt about it...Mike and I have had these conversations before where we sit around and we talk about it. And I say 91 because that sticks out like the year where he was really in his prime, physically, mentally, when it felt like he was this absolute bull. So I would love to see what that looks like.”
Kobe mentioning Jordan as the player he would have most liked to face in his prime was never going to be a shock. The history between the two players is well documented. Kobe entered the league having idolized Jordan, and so much of his game is influenced by Michael. But one can only wonder how incredible a one-on-one game between the two legends would have been.