During a recent appearance om The No Chill Podcast, former NBA guard Gilbert Arenas recalled a story about the night that Kobe Bryant dropped 55 points in a Los Angeles Lakers win over Michael Jordan and the Washington Wizards.
As most hoops fans know, Bryant looked up to His Airness quite a bit. In fact, most experts feel that Bryant's style of play was modeled after Jordan's.
According to Gilbert Arenas' story, Jordan once told Kobe that “he could put the shoes on, but he would never fill them,” referring to MJ's signature shoes. Being the strong-willed competitor that he is, Kobe took this slight very seriously.
The Wizards actually beat Kobe and the Lakers in Washington earlier that season. However, when it was time to play in Los Angeles, The Black Mamba took out his frustration by handing Jordan and the Wizards a 55-piece nugget. And just for the record, Bryant had 42 in the first half of that game:
Kobe drops 55 on his teacher’s head. pic.twitter.com/iwvRMC9KI1
— ThrowbackHoops (@ThrowbackHoops) September 1, 2019
As part of his interview with The No Chill Podcast, Arenas agreed that Kobe was “a psycho” on the basketball court:
“In Washington, Jordan gets that win,” Arenas said. “Jordan hits (Bryant) on the butt and says, ‘But you'll never fill them.' You're never gonna fill these shoes — that's basically what he was telling Kobe.
“So they say Kobe didn't talk to the team for two weeks,” Arenas continued. “Like, he just went silent, but he was on one million. It was what (Jordan) told him (that drove him). He's a psycho.”
“Kobe Bryant was a f**king psycho”
Gilbert Arenas tells us the story of what led to @KobeBryant scoring 55 against MJ and the Wizards that night 😳 Mamba was a sicko. More stories 👇🏽
— Ball Don't Stop (@balldontstop) September 2, 2019
Psychotic or not, Bryant was clearly out to make a point to Jordan, and he did just that. To be fair, though, MJ was 40 years of age at that time, but he still managed to score 17 of his 23 points in the first half.
“He was hot,” Jordan said after the game. “We tried to keep him on the perimeter; we went out on him and he was still hot. He kept them in the game in the first half.”
Kobe and MJ are two of the greatest competitors ever, and this tale just lends more credence to that.