With ESPN moving up the dates for the airing of “The Last Dance,” a documentary series on the 1990s Chicago Bulls, everyone who didn’t see that era of basketball is getting an inside look into what made Michael Jordan so great.
Episode 5, which airs Sunday night, is set to highlight the late Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, who shared a close relationship with Jordan and modeled his game after him in hopes of being the greatest player of all-time.
The similarities between Jordan and Bryant have been talked about for years, but this documentary has really proven just how true they are.
A former teammate of Bryant’s with the Lakers during their three-peat run from 2000-02, Mark Madsen, had the opportunity to discuss the similarities between him and Jordan and the bond they shared as two of the greatest to ever play, via Dan Woike of the L.A. Times:
“The mannerisms were definitely there. The similarities on the court were definitely there,” former Lakers forward Mark Madsen said last week. “And to be honest, being in the locker room with Kobe during that matchup and through the course of three years, I sensed two things. One, it was an unbelievable respect that Kobe had for Jordan. And I sensed and observed how Kobe emulated Jordan in some ways. But Kobe was an individual. He wanted to carve his own niche, write his own narrative and create his own legacy.”
Bryant and Jordan had a lot of similarities on the court with the former emulating a lot of the latter’s moves, as Madsen alluded to. Perhaps their biggest similarity was off the court, however, as they both had competitive drives and work ethics like no other.
Another former teammate of Bryant’s, Luke Walton, shared a similar sentiment when he discussed the two players.
Throughout the course of their careers fans never really quite knew just how close Bryant and Jordan were. Jordan gave everyone some insight into their relationship when speaking at Bryant’s memorable service this past February, calling him his little brother and saying a piece of him died when that helicopter crashed as well.
While it is heartbreaking that Bryant is not around to see it, “The Last Dance” served as another opportunity to pay tribute to one of the all-time greats, and the fact that it was someone Bryant looked up to his whole life in Jordan doing it makes it that much better.