Throughout Kobe Bryant’s entire career with the Los Angeles Lakers, the superstar guard has been compared to one NBA legend more than any other. Bryant’s game is almost a carbon copy to Michael Jordan’s when he led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA championships with both players approaching the game the same way.
Before facing the Chicago Bulls for a final time at the United Center on Sunday, Bryant was asked about Jordan and how he’s influenced him over the years. Kobe said the following about his longtime mentor, via Lakers reporter Mike Trudell:
Jordan’s influence on Kobe: “No words can really do it justice… I studied Michael exclusively. He was extremely open to (mentoring me).”
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) February 21, 2016
One attribute that made Bryant and Jordan such unstoppable forces throughout their careers is their will to win. Kobe believes their competitiveness has no equal, via Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News:
Kobe on MJ: "Our competitiveness are second to none."
— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) February 21, 2016
Bryant also talked about almost forcing a trade to the Bulls back in 2007. Kobe was at odds with the Lakers front office at the time due to the lack of talent around him in Los Angeles.
The superstar was so fed up with his situation in Los Angeles that he was ready to leave the team with Chicago being one of his preferred destinations. Bryant was asked whether playing in Jordan’s shadow would’ve bothered him had he been traded to the Bulls, via Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times:
Kobe wanted trade to Bulls in '07, but playing in MJ's shadow wouldn't bug him: "Do I seem like the type to cower to something like that?"
— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) February 21, 2016
Fortunately for Bryant and the Lakers, the organization pulled off a blockbuster trade the following year to acquire current Bulls forward Pau Gasol. The result was exactly what Kobe was angling for with the team going on to win two more titles.