Kobe Bryant Told Michael Jordan He Could Kick His Ass One on One

by May 16, 2013

In his new book “Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success”, Phil Jackson tells a great story from a meeting he helped arrange between Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant during the 1999-2000 season. Kobe, who we know thinks quite highly of his own abilities, told MJ (who had retired from the NBA for a second time) that he could take him one-on-one when they saw each other in Chicago that year. In the book, Jackson writes that Jordan was a considerably superior player and leader to Bryant. Per the LA Times: “It’s pretty easy to figure out who Jackson was referencing in the following passage: ‘In his mind he had it all figured out. His goal was to become the greatest basketball player of all time. And he was certain he knew what he had to do to get there. Why should he listen to anybody else? If he followed my advice and cut back his scoring, he’d fall short of his ultimate goal. How was I going to get through to this kid?’ It wasn’t Jordan. As a young 20-something, Bryant told Lakers teammates he wanted to win 10 rings but was a ‘stubborn, hard-headed learner,’ Jackson wrote. […] Jackson couldn’t help but include a humorous face-to-face meeting between Bryant and Jordan in his first season as the Lakers’ coach. ‘Kobe was hell-bent on surpassing Jordan as the greatest player in the game. His obsession with Michael was striking,’ Jackson said. ‘When we played in Chicago that season, I orchestrated a meeting between the two stars, thinking that Michael might help shift Kobe’s attitude toward selfless teamwork. After they shook hands, the first words out of Kobe’s mouth were, ‘You know I can kick your ass one on one.'”