Kobe Bryant has been compared to Michael Jordan throughout his career for obvious reasons — he's the closest thing we've seen to His Airness in terms of his talent level and competitive spirit. Magic Johnson made the comparison on the day Kobe announced his retirement, Kobe named MJ as one of the five best players he ever faced, and the eight games between the two are worth remembering even if none of them saw either legend at his best. Pretty much the only person who's ever shaken off the comparison is Kobe himself.
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So it made more than a little sense that Jordan took the time to record a special message for Bryant that aired during the player introductions before Monday's tilt between the Los Angeles Lakers and the MJ-owned Charlotte Hornets at Time Warner Cable Arena. Take a look at the roughly two-minute clip here:
It's a fairly simple message — Jordan congratulates Bryant on his accomplishments, praises his competitive drive, and wishes him well as he tries to translate that mindset to his post-basketball life. However fabricated the sentiment may be, it's a nice moment between two of the greatest to ever play the game.
However, Jordan still positions himself as the leader to Kobe's follower, referring to himself as a "big brother" figure and suggesting that the soon-to-be retiree will try to follow his example as a wildly successful businessman. These points are subtle, and maybe not even conscious for someone as competitive as Jordan, but present nonetheless.
Kobe followed this nice tribute with a pretty poor game — he shot 5-of-20 from the field and 3-of-12 from three-point range for an inefficient 20 points. Kemba Walker led the Hornets with a stellar 38 points (14-of-25 FG), six rebounds, five assists, three steals, and two blocks in a 108-98 win.
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