Nevertheless, Bryant doesn’t care about surpassing Jordan on the NBA scoring list, which he is just 62 points away from taking the title as of today (12-09-14).
He opened up about starting his career during a period when the NBA had superstar players like Jordan in an interview with Bleacher Report.
“It was great for me. I was looking forward to that moment, him being the pinnacle of who I was looking forward to playing against most,” he said. “At the time I came into the league, all the golden greats were still there—Clyde Drexler, [Hakeem] Olajuwon, [Charles] Barkley, [Gary] Payton, Anfernee Hardaway, John Stockton.”
He added, “these guys were still doing their thing. It was a huge honor for me to match up with all of these guys, see them up close. […] I’m not scared of anybody. It’s more curiosity and such a respect that I want to learn. I want to learn. I’m so curious to learn—still to this day.”
He continued with, “just a constant learner. I’m not afraid to ask questions about things that I don’t know. I’m not afraid to admit what I don’t know. I’ll ask questions and try to learn as much as I can.”
Bryant said Jordan is like a big brother to him. He was more direct and upfront with Jordan and maybe that’s why they hit it off more than what Jordan did with other players of Bryant’s caliber.
“We hit it off very well. He was really like a big brother, and whether it’s because we see things in a similar way in terms of our competitive spirit or fire or whatever the case may be, there’s an understanding that we have—a connection that we have.”
He added, “I don’t know if he opened up with me more than he did with other players, I’m not sure. I don’t know if other players had the balls even to ask. But we have a really, really good relationship.
But there’s one thing Bryant doesn’t like is how people believe he learned everything he knows from Jordan. That’s not true!
“The thing that I always bristled at was the notion that I learned everything that I know from Michael. That’s just not true,” he said. “Hakeem Olajuwon deserves a lot of credit; Jerry West deserves a lot of credit. Oscar Robertson deserves a lot of credit.”
He added, “I really was a student of the game and watched everybody. […] I’ve always welcomed the comparison to Michael if it’s in competitive spirit or in terms of records that I may set. I’ve always been cool with that. To be in that kind of company is…is…is…crazy, for lack of a better term. Rare air.”
Watch an All-Access Look at Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant’s Relationship: