The superior tandem of MJ and Kobe “almost” happened in the DMV
What if “His Airness” and “The Black Mamba” played alongside one another in a NBA uniform? Two of the league’s greatest scoring guards teaming up to play with one another to embark on a ridiculous, outstanding run that would’ve put the league in a “choke hold”. Believe or not, this almost came true and we not talking in “NBA 2k” form. In a recent interview with Washington Post writer Michael Lee, Kobe admits that the Washington Wizards had the best shot of landing the Philly bred scoring icon. Back in 2004, Kobe tested the free agency market after falling just a couple of games short of capturing another NBA Finals ring. With Jordan’s two year deal expiring at the end of the 2002-2003 season, many sources believed that MJ would be returning to help remodel the Wizards back to their winning ways. With speculation like this in the air, Kobe decided to test free agency and wanted to play in the Eastern Conference. In case you wondering why the lacklustering Eastern Conference, Kobe admits that he wanted some revenge in showing the Philadelphia 76ers what they missed out on by not selecting a hometown kid as the #1 pick in the 1996 NBA Draft.
Testing the waters and entertaining teams offers, Bryant would’ve entertained signing with the Wizards due to the fact that he wanted to experience a mentoring/muse relationship with the G.O.A.T himself, Michael Jordan. Unfortunately, then Wizards General Manager Abe Pollin told Jordan he wouldn’t be returning as team’s GM, which caused Jordan to say his last goodbyes to the Wizards. Kobe went along and briefly gave an explanation regarding the situation. He came out and said,
According to two people with knowledge of the situation, after Jordan decided to sell his minority ownership stake to resume his playing career with the Wizards, Bryant informed him several times he wanted to play for the Wizards — under the assumption that Jordan would return to the front office once his playing days were over.
On the idea of playing for Jordan:
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.
After hearing news about this, Bryant decided to re-sign a blockbuster deal with the Lakers after trading Shaquille O’Neal to Miami. This resulted in Kobe winning a couple of more championships in tinseltown while continuing his legacy in league wide conversations as arguably the greatest to lace up a pair of kicks. Meanwhile, the Wizards decided to move on and signed “Mr.Hibachi” himself Gilbert Arenas, making him one of the highest paid guards that year. Everything worked out well for the Wizards after the signing as Washington made the playoffs four straight seasons while Gilbert was destroying the competition with unstoppable shooting performances.
But what if Kobe wore and blue and white Wizards uniform and brought championships to the nation’s capital? The powerful combo of Kobe and MJ would’ve been an epic pair that the league would’ve been talking about for many years. A legend teaming up with another legend, the hype and moments in DC would’ve been as extravagant as Obama coming into office. What a NBA dream pair deferred.
-Omari White (@SmooveGuyO)