Kobe wanted to play with Jordan

ByBaxter Holmes ESPN logo
Monday, January 26, 2015

Kobe Bryant has long idolized Michael Jordan, the player to whom he has been compared throughout his career. Years ago, he had plans to play alongside his mentor.

According to a Washington Post report on Monday, Bryant more than a decade ago wanted to leave the Los Angeles Lakers and play for Washington Wizards, where Jordan was winding down his career.

"That's true," Bryant told the Post. "A long time ago? Yeah."

Said Bryant, "I've always been very big on having mentors, on having muses, and I've been really, really big on that, being around guys who have done it before and done it at a high level and always tried to pick their brains and always tried to absorb knowledge. Obviously, being in that situation [with the Wizards], it would've helped having to be around him every day and so on."

A Bryant-Jordan scenario as teammates all fell apart when then-Wizards owner Abe Pollin parted ways with Jordan in 2003, a year before Bryant became a free agent.

"We would've put together a great team and we would've won championships," Bryant told The Post.

Bryant also said a key reason he wanted to leave L.A. was his well-known feud with then-teammate Shaquille O'Neal, a three-time Finals MVP from 2000-02.

"The challenge had been thrown down upon me, of not being able to win without Shaq," Bryant said. "A public challenge never really bothered me too much, but he made a couple of comments as well. I think he called me Penny Hardaway Part 2 or something like that. So that's what [ticked] me off," Bryant said.

"Then it was like, 'Listen, you know the step back that I took to help us win championships. Let's not get [expletive] confused. I can dominate on my own. I decided to stay here and win championships and sacrifice MVPs and scoring titles and all that stuff.' So once that was said, it was like a line in the sand now."