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YouTube Gold: When Kobe Met Michael For The First Time

Jordan was already a star, but everyone was sure Kobe would be one soon too.

 Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant(L) and Chicago Bulls guard Michael Jordan(R) talk during a free-throw attempt during the fourth quarter 17 December at the United Center in Chicago. Bryant, who is 19 and bypassed college basketball to play in the NBA, scored a team-high 33 points off the bench, and Jordan scored a team-high 36 points. The Bulls defeated the Lakers 104-83.
Photo credit should read VINCENT LAFORET/AFP/Getty Images

It’s no secret that the late Kobe Bryant idolized Michael Jordan and patterned his game on it. For his part, Jordan said he saw Bryant as a “little brother.”

They came to the NBA in different ways. Jordan went through the great basketball finishing school of his day, Dean Smith’s UNC program, while Bryant passed up the chance to go to either UNC or Duke (he said at various times that he would have picked one or the other had he gone to college).

Both became known as relentlessly hard and fierce, though for Bryant, to an extent, it was a pose. He was in many ways lonely in the NBA, perhaps because he grew up mostly in Italy, and didn’t always feel comfortable with his teammates. On one occasion, he fought someone in practice and then called them late at night with a tearful apology. The teammate was stunned at the contrast between the hardass on the court and the young guy who worried that he had taken things too far.

Bryant and Jordan had a solid relationship, with Bryant often calling MJ for advice. But when they played, it was pretty spartan, with the focused on each other and attacking at every opportunity.

This video is the first time that they played. Jordan still ruled the NBA in 1996, but Bryant’s day was coming.