Lamar Odom: Kobe Bryant once said he was better than Michael Jordan

For much of his legendary 20-year career, late Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant was compared to Michael Jordan, to the point that it likely irritated many fans. However, the comparisons were valid, even though Bryant never quite matched Jordan’s accomplishments or greatness.

In the end, though, Bryant came rather close to equaling Jordan’s body of work. He could be described as a less physically gifted version of the Chicago Bulls legend, sans the gnarly vertical leap (Jordan reportedly had a 48-inch vertical leap), huge hands and greater strength and explosiveness.

But the male ego can be a very powerful and intoxicating thing. Lamar Odom said on a recent episode of the LADE Podcast, Bryant once proclaimed to the Lakers during the 2009-10 season that he was indeed better than Jordan (h/t Lakers Nation).

“I’m gonna keep it real with you. We were on the bus one night, I think this was after he hit his ninth game-winner, against Milwaukee. [Kobe] came on the bus and in front of me and Phil [Jackson], he was just like ‘Yo, I’m better than Mike.’ I said ‘What?!’ He said ‘Yo, I’m better than Mike.’ I was like ‘Bean, you’re going a long way with that.’ I was like ‘What, you’re better than Mike? That’s how you’re feeling?’ If he really said that, you know he felt it. He hit nine walk-offs that season. Nine walk-offs, ’Three, two, one…’ He hit nine in one season.”

It sounds like, judging from Odom’s detailed description, Bryant’s proclamation may have been directed at Jackson, the Lakers’ then-head coach who had also guided Jordan to each of his six NBA championships in the 1990s.

No matter where Bryant ultimately belongs on the list of the greatest basketball players of all time, he unquestionably left his mark on the Lakers franchise, not to mention Southern California and sports in general.

Story originally appeared on LeBron Wire