by Chris Camello (@Chris_camello)
LOS ANGELES — As the well-revered ESPN documentary series “The Last Dance” comes to an end this weekend, young viewers will gain a better perspective and appreciation for Michael Jordan.
However, viewers also get an understanding of how intensely competitive Jordan was and the type of demanding leader he was in pushing his teammates to go to another level with effort and dedication.
They don’t have to look far to find an accurate comparison to Jordan and the Bulls when you have Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers.
The late-great Bryant was also seen as the heir to Jordan’s throne, and it didn’t take him long after Jordan retired to become a champion and start a dynasty of his own with the Lakers along with Shaquille O’Neal.
It wasn’t just winning championships that allowed Bryant to enter the Jordan-comparison convos, the Black Mamba’s playing style, athleticism, clutch performances, and killer instinct that stood out as the biggest similarities to MJ. Also like Jordan, it didn’t take Bryant long to be one of the biggest stars in the game that other stars were trying to chase for league supremacy.
Perhaps the most intriguing similarities were how they competed the same way and how demanding their leadership style was. Bryant was often known for pushing his teammates in practice and being an intense competitor trying to get the best out of them every day when going after championships.
Before Bryant’s tragic death in January of this year, he was able to participate in “The Last Dance” and spoke about how he owes much of his success to Jordan. He not only inspired Bryant on the court but off of it as well. The two became quite close through the years and Kobe even said Jordan was like a big brother to him.
At Bryant’s memorial in February, Jordan tearfully echoed that same sentiment calling Kobe his little brother.
We all acknowledge Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all-time and inspired thousands of basketball players, perhaps none more than Bryant who established his legacy as an all-time great. The Black Mamba essentially took the torch from MJ and became the Michael Jordan of the 2000s.