Featured Gallery, NBA, We Reminisce / Feb 6, 2012 / 4:37 pm

We Reminisce: Kobe Bryant’s Memorable All-Star Debut Against Michael Jordan

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant

When the NBA’s All-Star starters were announced last week, there was only one new face: Andrew Bynum as the West’s center, in his debut All-Star game. The other nine were the game’s biggest names, a list that included Bynum’s Laker teammate Kobe Bryant for a record-tying 14th consecutive year (The All-Star reserves will be revealed Thursday on TNT.).

Bynum may have bested Bryant when he entered the league as its youngest player ever, but he’ll have a hard time topping the Black Mamba’s bananas All-Star debut. The game has always been a Who’s Who? of stars, but back when Bryant broke in, his showing made everyone say, “Who does he think he is?” (You can imagine Kobe’s answer, 14 years later: “You’re welcome.”)

So we reminisced by going back to 1998, where the 19-year-old, second-year Laker added to his All-Star Weekend credentials a year after winning the slam dunk title as a rook.

Now, given perfect hindsight, how could Bryant not have gone off for 18 points — most on the West — and taken Jordan every chance he got? It’s all there: the “rivalry” with MJ, playing on the game’s grandest stage at Madison Square Garden. There was a progression there that, though it didn’t necessarily point toward five rings yet, started with a record 31 in the Rookie Game in 1997 in Cleveland. Then, on Dec. 17, just two months before the ASG, Bryant dropped 33 on No. 23 and Chicago.

Most of his performance will be remembered for famously waving off a screen from Karl Malone, preferring to go at MJ one-on-one. Will Bynum be going after anyone every chance he gets? I doubt it. He may have been the league’s youngest, but the title of best ASG debut still hangs with Bryant. You’re welcome.

What do you remember about Kobe in his first All-Star meeting with Jordan?

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    Still hate Kobe for dropping 55 on MJ. Of course, MJ was wearing a Wizards uniform.

  • grandmama

    it was kinda like a “passing the torch” moment… but boy did michael school him a few times in that game :)

  • Rafa23

    Kobe dropping 55 on Jordan? just because MJ played in that game doesn’t mean Kobe scored on him.
    Dirk dropped 48 on Westbrook last playoffs…see?

  • Smitty313

    If roles were reversed Mj would of did the same thing. Their isnt anbody in the league like Mike and Kobe right now. They want to kill you @ all cost every night, i dont see that out of Lebron, D-Wade, or any of the stars today.

  • lifep

    Thanks for sharing!

  • SoulChorea

    Didn’t Kobe get benched by George Karl for the entire 4th quarter because of that waved-off screen by Malone? If I remember right, he supposedly said “get out of here old man…I don’t need no pick!” and then Malone told the coach and had him taken out. If that wasn’t Jordan-esque, I don’t know what is…both getting frozen out of their first all-star game for being too brash and cocky.

  • http://www.nbafullcourtpressure.com Matt

    Kobe with the afro!

  • bdog

    i remember that all star game!!! dope memories..still wish he rocked numero ocho thou but it all good. fav garden moment besides his 61 was his 45 pts at msg in 2003 when he rocked the retro jay vii pe!! dopeness!

  • http://www.dimemag.com Slick Ric

    It was not a passing the torch moment, kobe didn’t even become the best player in the league until 2005-2006.

  • SoulChorea

    @Slick Ric…

    Lies…people just didn’t start ADMITTING he was the best player in the league until then. He was there in 2004 at the LATEST, when he was dropping back-to-back-to-back (to back to back) 40-point nights during that rape trial.

    Y’all just still thought TMac and AI were better, but c’mon now…

  • DJ ILLusive

    That left block pivot to the baseline that MJ busted on Kobe is not one of Kobe’s bread and butter moves in the post. As much as I love Kobe’s talent and greatness, I hate him for being such a crass SOB. And he will never be better than MJ. 23>24

  • A.R.

    It don’t matter whether Kobe is better than Jordan or not. Kobe has Jordan’s respect and always has because of his confidence. Jordan is the greatest player ever so his opinion of another player playing the same position should be held in high regard.