Whenever the NBA GOAT conversation comes up, undoubtedly two names near the top of that list are Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.
So when the pair played in their last game together in 2003, a wonderful piece of NBA history took place when the pair went head-to-head, one-on-one to produce one of the most iconic images of the legends laughing with each other with MJ flat on his back.
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It has become one of the most iconic images taken in the sport and has even more significance after the death of Bryant in January.
But the night in question, knowing it was the last time that Bryant’s Lakers would play MJ in the Wizards, the pair shared the special moment.
After clearing the other players, Kobe drove forward with MJ stepping in and taking the offensive foul.
With a big smile on his face, Kobe punched the air and then helped Jordan off the hardwood.
Ultimately Kobe had the last laugh, scoring 55 points, with a massive 42 in the first half, compared to Jordan‘s 23 points and four assists.
But sitting just behind the play with an equally big smile on his face was movie star and massive NBA fan John Cusack, who sat courtside at that moment.
Kobe Bryant stands over Michael Jordan in their last match together.Source:Twitter
A friend of Jordan, Cusack was on Jimmy Kimmel Live on Friday and revealed what was said between the pair, with MJ hilariously dishing some shade.
“In that moment, at some point in the game, everyone knew Michael and Kobe were going to go one-on-one,“ Cusack said.
“So Kobe got the ball, he cleared everybody out and everybody started to bristle up with anticipation. It was going to be Kobe against Michael. Kobe started to drive and Michael stepped in front of him, right in front of me and he took the charge and he went down.
“Kobe‘s standing above him and Michael just looked up at him and said, ‘everybody in the f***ing building knew you weren’t gonna pass’.
“And then there‘s a pause and it was like the old pro got him and Kobe just started laughing and they both started laughing.”
John Cusack reveals what Michael Jordan said to Kobe during this infamous photo from their last game in 2003. pic.twitter.com/9UJQhGarVI
But while it was a great moment, Cusack said it was really the moment Jordan passed off the mantle of the game‘s best player to Kobe.
“You really felt the passing of the torch from one great to another,” he said.
“You felt it was a moment in sports that was really amazing to be at.”
Many have said the pair had a brotherly relationship with Jordan admitted in an interview Kobe was the only player who might be able to beat him one-on-one “because he steals all of my moves”.
“I don’t think I‘d lose, other than to Kobe Bryant because he steals all of my moves.”⠀
—Michael Jordan on the players he'd love to play one-on-one (via @NBA2K) pic.twitter.com/rB0zggYYpE
But Cusack‘s tale only really tells half the story.
The time the Wizards and Lakers – more accurately MJ and Kobe – came together, Jordan had 25 points to Kobe‘s 27 with the Wizards pulling off a 100-99 victory.
Former Wizards player Gilbert Arenas told The No Chill podcast that Jordan told Kobe “You can put the shoes on but you ain’t ever gonna fill them”.
By our count, that‘s 2-0 MJ.
Like the rest of the basketball community, Jordan was left stunned by the death of Kobe and his daughter Gianna in a plane crash in January.
In a statement at the time, he said: “Words can‘t describe the pain I’m feeling. I loved Kobe – he was like a little brother to me. We used to talk often, and I will miss those conversations very much.”
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