So imagine how the Los Angeles Lakers superstar must feel as he's preparing to surpass MJ as third on the NBA's all-time scoring list — a feat he'll probably accomplish before the New Year.
Speaking to Bleacher Report at length, Bryant explained how his journey actually outweighs the accolades.
"Nineteen years is a long time to be playing, and I've had a different career path than Michael," Bryant said. "It has been a hell of a marathon. I'm really proudest of that."
Bryant went on to describe his friendship with Jordan; a friendship that was forged years ago and continues today.
"We hit it off very well. He was really like a big brother, and whether it's because we see things in a similar way in terms of our competitive spirit or fire or whatever the case may be, there's an understanding that we have — a connection that we have," Bryant said. "I don't know if he opened up with me more than he did with other players, I'm not sure. I don't know if other players had the balls even to ask. But we have a really, really good relationship."
Although Bryant carved out his own legacy — via five championship rings, two Finals MVPs and 16 All-Star selections — he explained how he actually enjoyed comparisons to Jordan over the years.
"I've always welcomed the comparison to Michael if it's in competitive spirit or in terms of records that I may set. I've always been cool with that. To be in that kind of company is…is…is…crazy, for lack of a better term. Rare air."
The only part of the comparisons that he didn't seem to care for was that the only player he ever watched to borrow from was Jordan. Bryant cites Hakeem Olajuwon, Oscar Robertson and Jerry West as other past NBA stars that he has studied to improve his game.
Although the Lakers are struggling at 5-14, watching Bryant surpass Jordan as third on the league's all-time scoring list will definitely be a must-see moment. Currently, Bryant trails Jordan by only 98 points, meaning if he delivers his NBA-leading 26 points per game, he'll hit the mark in four games, which would come against the defending champion San Antonio Spurs in Texas next Friday night.
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(Photo: VINCENT LAFORET/AFP/Getty Images)
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