Though much of it was not known to the outside world, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant shared a special bond. A young and fired-up Kobe shook the NBA with his spectacular talent 1998 All-Star game with ‘His Airness’ right there on the court to witness. ‘The Last Dance’ even amazingly showed us locker-room footage of MJ talking about a young Mamba.
MJ and Kobe are undoubtedly the greatest players to compete in the NBA. Their on-court attitude defined success. Both players carried an aura around them that intimidated their opponents. Michael Jordan during Kobe’s eulogy mentioned that the Lakers legend was his “little brother.”
While we may have not witnessed how the bond between MJ and Kobe grew into a brotherhood, there are certain moments that perfectly displayed the respect they had for each other. 2002 was the year when Kobe Bryant achieved the historic three-peat. As the Lakers arrived in New Jersey for Game 4, Kobe paid a subtle tribute to his childhood hero.
When Kobe Bryant rocked the iconic #23 jersey of Michael Jordan
For fans who haven’t heard of this before, it is indeed about to be a visual treat as you scroll down the article. The Lakers faced the New Jersey Nets in the 2002 NBA Finals and were 3-0 up. Heading into Game 4, the Mamba knew his team could complete a clean sweep and achieve the three-peat with a victory.
The 4-0 outcome largely weighed on Kobe’s mind. In the Finals series, Kobe wore different jerseys from the past as he entered the arena. In the first three games, he had worn iconic player jerseys from the NFL, MLB, and the NHL. Thus, for Game 4, everyone knew a throwback NBA jersey was on the cards.
And thus, it happened. Kobe grabbed everyone’s attention by sporting a white Chicago Bulls jersey with MJ’s name on the back. He looked stunning in the jersey that was partially converted by a Bulls warmup jacket.
The mamba undoubtedly chose MJ’s jersey because he was on the verge of achieving a three-peat that night. Maybe he wanted to show that he was capable of filling the shoes of Michael Jordan. Or it was just a GOAt recognizing another GOAT for his achievements.
Kobe hanging out with MJ’s jersey is the best sight to see
The Mamba didn’t wear the sparkling white jersey just for the arena entry. There’s a famous photo of him enjoying a pre-game hamburger with a beaming smile on his face.
Michael Jordan is a champion. So is Kobe. They both had the crystal clear focus during their games. All of it relies on the pre-game routine and how you get mentally prepared for a big game like the NBA Finals. Here is a photo of the Mamba trying to mentally emulate his idol by wearing his jersey.
And next, the most favorite photo of mine, the game jersey of Kobe Bryant and the Bulls jersey of Michael Jordan hanging side by side. It is indeed true that pictures can speak a thousand words. The jersey of the face of the NBA in the 2000s next to the man who ruled it in the 90s.
What is Michael Jordan most addicted to, apart from gambling and golf? Smoking cigars! The six-time champion still has the habit and here is Kobe enjoying a post-victory cigar in MJ’s jersey.
Kobe is all smiles as the Los Angeles Lakers had just forged their name into the history books. The three-peat was completed and Kobe played a massive part in helping the team achieve it.