Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant square off during a game on Dec. 17, 1997.
(Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images)

Lakers History: Kobe's First Duel Against Michael Jordan

by Joey Ramirez
Digital Reporter

The greatest player on Earth stood near mid-court with a 19-year-old hot shot and imparted some advice.

A teenage Kobe Bryant wanted to know how Michael Jordan executed a particular post move. The Chicago legend told him to feel the defender with his legs, in order to know which way to spin.

“He certainly has a lot of skill, you see that,” Jordan said in his postgame interview. “He’s got a lot of confidence. I think it’s just a matter of time for him. You realize how good he is. He’s actually (old enough to be) in his second year of college.”

Sure, Jordan took Bryant to school with 36 points, including 13 in an explosive first quarter. But the teenager came prepared for a duel against his boyhood idol.

Bryant went off for 33 points of his own, resetting his own young career-high for the third time in four games.

“My father taught me when I was growing up don’t back down from any man,” Bryant told reporters. “He’s fired up, you get fired up. Go blow to blow.

“Whenever I have the chance to guard Michael Jordan, I want to guard him. I want him. The ultimate challenge.”

Bryant certainly held his own against the reigning NBA Finals MVP, even hitting a Jordan-esque fadeaway over MJ himself.

Unfortunately for Bryant, the rest of the team couldn’t offer much help. The Lakers shot just 34.5 percent from the field, as they fell to the Bulls, 104-83.

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