Michael Jordan and his Eastern Conference All-Stars conference companion were sitting in the locker room before the 1998 All-Star Game at Madison Square Garden, discussing the teenager who had already made a significant impression in the NBA.
"That kid from the Lakers is going to take everyone face to face," Jordan reflected to his teammates in images shared in the fifth episode of the "The Last Dance" documentary series on Sunday.
Surely Kobe Bryant, the rising star of the West, would pressure Michael Jordan during the contest in an effort that set his legacy in motion. Bryant would model your game after Jordan and strive to become the kind of figure that his predecessor grew up with relentless intensity. Their relationship was that of an older brother and a younger brother, equally competitive and united.
"The Last Dance" detailed the dynamic between Jordan and Bryant. The producers filmed and assembled the full episodes with Bryant before he died in a helicopter accident on January 26, and they would have left everything intact.
Jordan's last season with the Bulls came in 1998, in line with Bryant's first All-Star appearance. This created an easy narrative to pass the torch from the Bulls legend to the new Lakers star.
When Jordan returned from retirement in 2001, Bryant was three-time All-Star champion and two-time champion, on his way to his own Hall of Fame arc.
Bryant's movements – in particular his return jump – were evolutions of what Jordan perfected.
"What you get from me is his," said Bryant in the documentary. "I don't have five championships here without him. He guided me a lot."
Bryant received a written tribute from the producers at the beginning of the fifth episode.