A little more than a decade ago, two of basketball’s most storied legends almost created a one-team bridge, from one generation of superstars to the next.
A recent report from Michael Lee of the Washington Post reveals that Kobe Bryant wanted out of L.A. as a youngster, so he could join his idol Michael Jordan during his two-year victory lap with the Washington Wizards. The plan dissolved when Jordan and then-owner of the D.C. squad, Abe Pollin, parted ways in 2003. Jordan, of course, went on to become the majority owner of another team down south, while Bryant became one of the few legends of the NBA to stick with one team for nearly two decades.
Bryant tore his rotator cuff recently, and his team has announced that the 36-year-old is out for the season. Many are speculating that Bryant could retire, and not play out the final year of his contract with the Lakers. And while that’s just the stuff of rumors for now, something else has become clear: Bryant’s not long for the sport, and he has fewer and fewer reasons to keep secrets from anyone about what’s happened over his 19-year career.
Kobe’s confirmation of his past desire to team up with Jordan could be just the first of many titillating details to come out about the behind-the-scenes tales of his NBA life. This story tells us something we already know — that Bryant loved Jordan probably even more than all of us who watched him so rapturously in the '80s and '90s — and also gives us a fascinating rabbit hole to go down. What would Kobe — and the league — have been like with the greatest player of all time whispering advice over his shoulder?
— John Wilmes