While Michael Jordan and the late Kobe Bryant were competitors on the court, there was no hiding the mutual respect between the two basketball legends.
When they faced each other for the final time in March 2003, with the Washington Wizards visiting the Los Angeles Lakers, one of the most memorable moments from the game was Bryant sending Jordan to the ground as he attempted to drive to the basket.
Footage from the interaction shows Bryant arguing with a referee as Jordan stays on the ground, looking up at him. Bryant then looks down at the six-time champion and places his hands on his hips as Jordan says something off-camera that makes Bryant, and everyone sitting courtside, burst out in laughter.
During a recent interview with Jimmy Kimmel, actor John Cusack — who was sitting courtside only feet away from the two players — recalled the moment, and what Jordan said to Bryant.
"At some point in the game, everyone knew Michael and Kobe were gonna go one-on-one," Cusack said during the interview. "So Kobe got the ball, he cleared everybody out, and everybody started to bristle up with anticipation that it was gonna be Kobe against Michael."
"Kobe started to drive, Michael stepped in front of him — right in front of me — and he took the charge," he continued. "And he went down, and Kobe was standing above him, and Michael looked up and said, 'Well everybody in the f— building knew you weren't gonna pass!' "
The comment, of course, poked fun at Bryant's reputation of shooting the ball before choosing to pass to teammates.
The Utopia star said the interaction between the two stars felt like a significant moment in sports history.
"It was like the old pro, the old vet got him," he explained. "Kobe just started laughing, and they both started laughing, but that's what they said there."
"So you really felt the passing of the torch, you know, one great to another," Cusack continued. "You felt it was a moment in sports, it was really amazing to be there."
A month following Bryant's death in a helicopter accident, Jordan called his former competitor a "little brother" who wanted to "be the best basketball player that he could be."
"I took great pride as I got to know Kobe Bryant, that he was just trying to be a better person," Jordan said during a memorial service for Bryant, and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, who also died in the accident. "We talked about business, we talked about family, we talked about everything, he was just trying to be a better person."
Source: Read Full Article