After a lengthy road trip, the Los Angeles Lakers returned home to Staples Center to host the Golden State Warriors, but all of the focus was on franchise icon Kobe Bryant, who saw his Nos. 8 and 24 jerseys retired during a halftime ceremony.
Other than speaking prior to the unveiling of Shaquille O’Neal’s statue last season, it was Bryant’s first true appearance around the team since his memorable 60-point performance against the Utah Jazz to close out his illustrious career.
Prior to their matchup against the Lakers, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr offered high praise for Bryant, comparing him to former Chicago Bulls teammate Michael Jordan, per Mark Medina of the Bay Area News Group:
“Kobe is the closest thing to Michael,” Kerr said. “Everybody has been compared to Michael. LeBron [James] has been compared to Michael. I don’t think LeBron is Michael at all. He’s a very different player with a different mentality and mindset. Kobe has a different mindset and mentality that MJ had.”
“The assassin, the ‘I’m going to rip your throat out with my scoring, low post dominant fadeaway jumper, and footwork,’” Kerr said. “I thought Kobe’s footwork was one of the best parts of his game, probably the most underrated because everybody focused on his shooting and his athleticism. His footwork got him open. That’s where he is so similar to Michael. He got any shot he wanted. He never feared. He didn’t care. He missed tons of game-winning shots. He made tons. Just went on to the next game and did the same thing over and over again.”
The comparisons of Bryant to Jordan are natural, given their competitive nature and will to win at all costs. The pair combined for 11 NBA championships, though Jordan holds the advantage over Bryant with six titles to five.
Though, Bryant is confident he holds an edge over Jordan in long-distance shooting. The 18-time All-Star cited the difference in eras that the two played in, specifically noting the tougher zone defenses that were thrown at him.
Furthermore, Bryant also credited Jordan’s ability to adjust and believes he would’ve developed a better outside shot had he played in modern times.
WANT TO PARTICIPATE IN THE DISCUSSION? CHECK OUT THE NEW LAKERS NATION FORUM CLUB