Michael Jordan is widely considered to be the greatest basketball player of all time. Apart from winning accolades, MJ had a certain aura around him. He wanted to be better than everyone else in the league.
Many teammates feared Michael Jordan because he wanted to win. MJ always tried to push everybody to become the best version of themselves, earning a reputation around the league about what he would ask from teammates.
Now imagine facing a player like this who is also a proven veteran in the league. That's something that Kobe Bryant felt when facing Michael Jordan for the first time in his career.
But if there was anyone who could stand up to MJ, it was none other than Bryant as well. After all, he had a similar aura in his career, and players were scared of him too.
Kobe Bryant Was Warned By His Teammate
Facing MJ for the first time in his career was surely one of the most memorable moments of Kobe's entire time in the NBA. Evidently, he remembered that moment as clear as day too.
Kobe once revealed what one of his teammates told him right before he was ready to play against MJ. And as you'd expect from the Mamba, he gave an epic response.
"When I was getting ready to face Jordan, I had a teammate he goes to me, 'hey, you want some advice? Whatever you do, don't look him in the eye.' Wait, excuse me? Why the hell would I not look him in the eye? I don't think my teammate understood, I'm that too."
This just goes to prove how much confidence Kobe Bryant had in his ability to play basketball at an elite level.
Kobe was not scared of Mike even when he was facing him for the first time in his career. But that doesn't mean that he didn't respect Mike; if anything, he praised Jordan a lot of times for making things look easy. It was that mentality that helped him several times in his career and established him as one of the best players of all time.
Bryant even won the head-to-head duel against Jordan, even though His Airness put up the best numbers. A 5-3 overall win confirms that Bryant beat his idol, making it clear he was coming for his throne, which never happened.
But that doesn't mean Kobe was perfect right from the start of his career. Legendary head coach Phil Jackson once pointed out the biggest difference between Kobe and MJ. Phil believed that the biggest difference between the two legends was leadership.