Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant wanted to be great throughout his professional career. He was all about winning, and that led him to have one of the more remarkable careers of any player to ever don an NBA uniform. In addition to his five championships, Bryant was named to 18 All-Star teams, earned 15 All-NBA selections and was chosen as a member of the All-Defensive Team on 12 different occasions.
Bryant seemingly spent his entire career attempting to chase down Michael Jordan for the title of greatest of all time. Fittingly enough, it will be Jordan who will induct Bryant into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on May 15. It will undoubtedly be one of the most anticipated speeches of the weekend.
While it is difficult at times for fans to get a true sense of exactly what is going through a player's mind at any point in time, every now and then we are lucky enough to get a glimpse into their thought process when their peers conduct interviews. That's exactly what happened during Lamar Odom's recent appearance on Showtime's "All The Smoke" podcast with Stephen Jackson and Matt Barnes. Odom made it clear Bryant not only considered himself to be on the same level as Jordan, Kobe truly thought he was better than the Chicago Bulls legend.
"He said he was better than Mike [Jordan]. ... I said, 'What?!' You gotta understand his drive. There ain't too many dudes that played in the NBA and that really mean it in their heart, like, 'I'm gonna be better than LeBron James.' And that's where he chased his whole life. To be just as good or mentioned with Michael Jordan."
Regardless of where Bryant ultimately is considered when discussing the greatest players in NBA history, it was his drive and determination to be great that allowed him to even be part of the conversation. As Odom noted during the interview, there aren't many people out there who truly believe that deep down they are as good, if not better, than those who are at the top of their respective craft. In Bryant's case, he was one of the rare exceptions and, in the end, he accomplished his goals on the court and was well on his way to doing the same in his endeavors off the court before a helicopter crash in January 2020 tragically ended his life far too early.