The Last Dance has taught us endless lessons through the game of basketball thus far, but episode five and six gave us a real look at the privilege that is being one of the 450 players in the league. Behind the walls of competitiveness and hunger for rings, bonds between players tend to grow and create a family-like culture.
A relationship highlighted in this two-hour pairing was the mentorship/brother relationship between Michael Jordan and the late great Kobe Bryant. The tragic loss of Kobe Bryant this past January shocked the world and brought the basketball family together in mourning for one of the greatest to play the game.
Jordan, the player Bryant idolized and looked to play like all his life, played a big-brother role to the former Laker star, and we got a behind the scenes look to the early days of their relationship/rivalry.
Bryant was an All-Star during the Last Dance season that was 1998, which allowed for the greatest player of that time to see first hand what the player some were touting the next Jordan was really all about.
From the conversation between Jordan and Tim Hardaway Sr in the locker room to Kobe discussing how his game came from endless hours studying the moves of number 23 on the Bulls, this episode gave us a look at how the basketball community is one big family.
Players from the league today looked up to Kobe as their version of Jordan, and they were able to share their thoughts on the all-time great's appearance in The Last Dance.
All-Star starter Trae Young, who wore Bryant’s number 8 during Young’s first game after the death of Bryant, revealed that Kobe was the idol he looked up to as a young basketball player. Current Laker Quinn Cook, who changed his number to 28 to honor Kobe and his daughter Gigi who tragically lost her life that day too, shared his thoughts on his idol’s appearance in the documentary.
Cook is currently on a quest to do what the Lakers haven’t done since Kobe dawned the Purple and Gold: raise a championship banner in the Staples Center. And when it came to championships, Kobe was chasing one player and one player only: Michael Jordan.
Jordan’s ability to prevent greats from ever raising the Larry O’Brien Trophy through pure domination of the game didn’t stop today’s era of greats from wanting to Be Like Mike. Every player wants to win that season’s last game, but it’s the family bonds that are created along the journey that have a lasting impact when you lace up your Air Jordans one last time.