What Michael Jordan’s validation really meant for Kobe Bryant, per Kobe’s HS coach
Kobe Bryant’s high school coach Gregg Downer recently wrote a moving essay for The Philadelphia Inquirer about his relationship with Kobe and the tragic death of the Los Angeles Lakers icon. In it, he talked about why it was so important to Kobe to be validated by his idol Michael Jordan.
At Bryant’s public memorial at Staples Center, Jordan arguably gave the greatest speech. Downer beautifully wrote that the late Lakers great and his daughter Gigi had to have been listening to Jordan’s speech from heaven.
I knew before many that Kobe’s real dream was to be the next Michael Jordan. We talked about it often as he developed from age 13 to 17, and you could clearly see it in his mannerisms, his imitations. Michael was a huge part of his identity.
Jordan’s speech was iconic, just like the man himself. With tears pouring down his face, the ever-so-stoic and prideful Jordan — he of the six championship rings Kobe so relentlessly chased — acknowledged that Kobe was his little brother and that Kobe was an amazing player. Kobe had to have been smiling ear to ear from the heavens as his hero validated his greatness and gave him his due. I hope Kobe and Gianna shared that incredible moment.
Most have no idea the work that went into Kobe’s chase of Michael’s acceptance and full respect. And I’m sure Kobe still wants M.J. one-on-one when he eventually joins him in heaven. Michael had better remember to bring his sneakers.
Kobe Bryant was able to pass Jordan on the all-time scoring list. He was then able to watch current Lakers superstar LeBron James pass him before his untimely passing.
Bryant wanted to do everything like Jordan, and he achieved that by becoming the MJ of his generation. In 1,346 career regular season games with the Lakers, Kobe averaged 25.0 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.7 assists.
The Black Mamba is universally recognized as the greatest Lakers player in Purple and Gold history.