2. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
Record: 3-5 regular season
There’s a good possibility that if Jordan had remained with the Bulls for at least one or two more seasons, with that core that was in place during the dynasty years, that they would’ve faced the Los Angeles Lakers in an NBA Finals showdown or two. Jordan was still good enough to help lead a team to the NBA Finals from 1998-2002, if he had a solid supporting cast.
Seeing a playoff matchup between Jordan and the Bulls and the likes of shooting guard Kobe Bryant, center Shaquille O’Neal, and the Lakers could be one of the best ever. Kobe and Shaq were essentially the two players who Jordan passed the torch two as the best in the NBA once the dynasty years for him were over. And Kobe was the more popular of the two globally.
Kobe and MJ met in just eight regular season games, half of which were while the latter was playing with the Wizards for two seasons. Jordan and the Bulls split the all-time meetings against Kobe and the Lakers in four tries. But he wouldn’t have as much luck with the Wizards, boasting a record of 1-3 against Kobe.
This recently passed all-time Lakers great was still developing his game when he played against Jordan and the Wizards/Bulls in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. Kobe averaged 22.8 points per game, 4.4 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 0.9 steals, and 0.6 blocks, while shooting 46.6 percent from the field and an insane 55.2 percent from beyond the arc.
An absolutely legendary performance saw Kobe and the Lakers usher Jordan out of this limited but great rivalry. Kobe would register a game-high 55 points in a convincing 108-94 victory over the Wizards late in the 2002-03 regular season.