Kobe Bryant has done pretty well for himself in the NBA. For a guy who idolised Michael Jordan as a youngster, the Black Mamba went on to place third on the all-time NBA scoring leaders - one place ahead of Jordan - and amassed five championship rings along the way.
Still, it always seems like he was one step behind Jordan in many regards. Comparisons were always going to be made about the two thanks to their shooting guard position and their similar ilk, but Jordan is an act that arguably nobody, let alone Byrant, has been able to follow.
Jordan gained one more NBA title than Kobe, he's a six-time Finals MVP compared to Bryant's two and a five-time MVP to the latter's one.
Article continues below
In isolation, all of Kobe's accomplishments are incredible; something very few players can ever say they have achieved. But next to Jordan, they pale by comparison.
Thanks to Jordan's sabbaticals in the 1990's, Bryant only spent four years in the NBA against Jordan, two of which were with his famed Chicago Bulls.
Article continues below
Despite the limited time against eachother, the 37-year-old Bryant told Serena Winters of Lakers Nation on Wednesday night that Jordan was unequivocally his toughest competitor.
The drive and determination of Jordan and Bryant are legendary, and besides their expansive skill sets, those traits turned them from great players into legends.
Prior to his final All-Star appearance this year in Toronto, the Lakers legend recounted what MJ said to him 13 years ago in his final All-Star game.
Bryant told Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports: "One thing that Michael said was, ‘Just because it’s my last All-Star Game, I don’t want you to come out there going soft on me. I want you to play me how you would normally play me.'
"I was like, 'Mike, what do you know about me that would lead you to tell me that?' We both got a good laugh out of that."
Jordan is now the owner of the Charlotte Hornets, and before Bryant took to the court against his franchise in December of last year, Jordan had a special video message for whom he calls his 'little brother'.
“I’m a big fan, I still love watching you play.”
“We are very proud of what you have accomplished over the years,” Jordan added. “Have a great game. But not too good ."
There's that old competitive fire burning once again.
The legendary guards combined to rack up 11 NBA championships, eight NBA Finals MVPs, six regular-season MVPs, 32 All-Star Game appearances and seven All-Star MVPs.
That's quite the haul. These are two men that have been there and done it all, and they'll both forever have a profound effect on basketball, as well as each other.