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Kobe Bryant Said Only One Player Could Beat Him 1-On-1: "If There's Gonna Be A Player To Beat Me, He Retired On That Last Shot In Utah In '98."

Kobe Bryant Said Only One Player Could Beat Him 1-On-1: "If There's Gonna Be A Player To Beat Me, He Retired On That Last Shot In Utah In '98."

Kobe Bryant was easily one of the best players to ever play the game of basketball. Starting off as a teenager with the Los Angeles Lakers, a young Kobe had limited chances to showcase his talents. But all of it changed after a couple of seasons as Bryant burst into the scene as one of the most exciting players to watch in the game.

Be it his incredible repertoire of scoring the basketball with his incredible fadeaway jumpers and his ferocious dunks or his ability to lock down the best players of the opposing team, the 'Black Mamba' did it all. As all the other stars have in the past, Kobe learned from the best.

Perhaps the biggest inspiration and influence that Bryant had on his game was from the GOAT, Michael Jordan. Kobe was perhaps the closest to a reincarnation of Jordan. Be it his fadeaway jumpers or his ability to lock down guards, Kobe mirrored his incredible basketball skills to that of MJ. Jordan even claimed that he was proud to see Bryant use his iconic fadeaway.

Not only were the two closest friends, but Bryant also had immense respect for the impact Jordan had on his game. In a post-game press conference back in 2016, Kobe was asked whether any player had beaten him 1-on-1.

'Mamba' unsurprisingly had an iconic response, 

"No one… that’s what I do." 

Bryant then went on and gave his idol his props claiming that only Jordan would be the one who could have defeated him 1-on-1. 

"If there was a player. If there's gonna be a player to beat me, he retired on that last shot in Utah in '98."

While we could never see a prime Michael Jordan facing off against a prime Kobe Bryant, given how close their relationship was, Bryant and MJ often discussed who would be victorious in a 1-on-1 battle.

In an appearance on 'Jimmy Kimmel Live', Bryant revealed a discussion between him and Jordan about them facing off against each other.

This was not the only appearance where Kobe talked about him and MJ discussing a 1-on-1 matchup against each other. Making an appearance on the 'All The Smoke podcast', Kobe revealed the conversation he and Jordan had off the camera about him and the 2003 Lakers facing off against MJ and the 1991 Bulls. 

But it was not only the discussions about who the best player was among the two. Jordan and Kobe often communicated with each other in their toughest moments as well. After a crushing defeat to the Boston Celtics in the 2008 Finals, Kobe, who gave it his all in the Finals, asked MJ how to defeat the superteam of the Celtics. Jordan gave some much-needed honest advice to Kobe and insisted on him figuring it out for himself. Two championships in the next two years certainly were the fitting result. 

Often when two players are compared to each other, we generally do not see them being the closest. But that's what made the relationship between Jordan and Kobe beautiful, two greats who became brothers at the end of the day.