If you're looking for funny or memorable basketball stories, actor John Cusack wouldn't be your first choice for a source, but during a recent appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, he delivered in a major way. The Chicago-born Cusack is a big basketball fan and developed a friendship with Michael Jordan over the years.
So when Jordan returned to the league with the Washington Wizards in 2001, Cusack tried to make it to as many games as he could. One of them was the Wizards' trip to Staples Center to play the Lakers in 2003, which everyone knew would be the final matchup between Jordan and Kobe Bryant. Sitting courtside, Cusack had a front-row view of history and was right there for a hilarious interaction between the two legends.
At one point in the game, Kobe put his head down to drive, and Jordan stepped in to draw the charge. As M.J. was laying on the ground, Kobe was standing over him complaining to the ref. Then, all of sudden, everyone started cracking up. Here's Cusack explaining what happened over a video of the play:
Cusack's full story:
At some point in the game, everyone knew Michael and Kobe were gonna go one-on-one. So Kobe got the ball, he cleared everybody out, and everybody started to bristle up with anticipation that it was gonna be Kobe against Michael. And Kobe started to drive, Michael stepped in front of him -- right in front of me -- and he took the charge.
And he went down, and Kobe was standing above him, and Michael looked up and said, "well everybody in the f------ building knew you weren't gonna pass." And then there's a pause, and it was like the old pro, the old vet got him. And Kobe just started laughing, and they both started laughing, but that's what they said there. So you really felt the passing of the torch, you know, one great to another. You felt it was a moment in sports, it was really amazing to be there.
This is an incredible story, and really is nothing less than you'd expect from Jordan. As we all saw during The Last Dance earlier this year, no one was quicker with the trash talk than him. No matter the situation, he always had a line ready, and this one is right at the top of the list.
It also, in some ways, makes Bryant's passing even more tragic. This is the kind of memory the two could have been reminiscing about for years and decades to come, and now they'll never get that chance.