Michael Jordan Video

Kobe Bryant didn't want to do a retirement tour, but the rest of the league isn't giving him a choice. Away crowds are rooting him on, arenas are recognizing him during breaks in the action, and now MJ himself is bidding the Black Mamba farewell.

In a rare gesture, Michael Jordan appeared on the big screen during Monday night's Charlotte Hornets-Los Angeles Lakers game, delivering a touching message to Bryant.

"I'm a big fan," Jordan says. "I still love watching you play."

Jordan also refers to Bryant as a little brother -- fitting, given that Bryant is the closest thing the NBA has to Jordan ever since MJ retired. Both play with a tenacious, competitive spirit and dominated as two-way guards, hoarding championship trophies during their respective generations.

Jordan was not in attendance for the game, but his message resonated with a warm Hornets fan base:

"We are very proud of what you have accomplished over the years," Jordan says. "Have a great game. But not too good​."

Kobe abided -- he scored 20 points in the affair, but the Lakers lost, 108-98.

Kobe Bryant: Season By Season

 

1996-97

Kobe and Shaq during introductions on opening night at the Forum. Bryant sets the NBA record for youngest player in a game at 18 years, 72 days. (Jermaine O'Neal and Andrew Bynum later break the record.) Bryant wins the Slam Dunk Contest at All-Star Weekend.

 

1997-98

Averaging 15.4 points, Kobe finishes runner-up to Danny Manning of Phoenix in the voting for NBA Sixth Man of the Year. At 19, he also becomes the youngest player to be a starter in the NBA All-Star Game.

 

1998-99

Bryant becomes a full-time starter during the lockout-shortened season and averages 19.9 points.

 

1999-2000

Bryant is named to the NBA's All-Defensive first team, and the Lakers beat the Pacers in the Finals to win the franchise's first title since 1988.

 

2000-01

The Lakers repeat as champions by going 15-1 in the playoffs when Bryant averages 29.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 6.1 assists.

 

2001-02

Bryant averages 25.2 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists in the regular season and makes All-NBA first team for the first time. He also wins the first of his four NBA All-Star Game MVP awards. The Lakers win their third consecutive NBA title.

 

2002-03

Bryant averages 30 points for the first time in his career, and also ties Michael Jordan's league record with 40 points or more in nine consecutive games. The Lakers lose in the second round of the playoffs to the Spurs.

 

2003-04

Bryant misses some games because of court appearances in Colorado for a case in which he was charged with sexual assault. The charges are eventually dropped when his accuser declines to testify. The Lakers, despite adding Karl Malone and Gary Payton, loses to the Pistons in the NBA Finals.

 

2004-05

Despite Bryant's 27.6 scoring average, this season is a nightmare for the Lakers. No longer coaching the team, Phil Jackson publishes a book that rips Kobe. New coach Rudy Tomjanovich quits midway through the season. The Lakers miss the playoffs with a 34–48 record.

 

2005-06

Phil Jackson returns as coach, and Bryant wins his first NBA scoring title with an average of 35.4 points. On Jan. 22, 2006, Bryant scores 81 points against Toronto, the second highest single-game total in NBA history behind Wilt Chamberlain (100).

 

2006-07

Bryant, seen mingling here with Michael Jordan and Julius Erving before the Slam Dunk Contest, wins his second All-Star Game MVP award. In March, Bryant has four consecutive games of scoring 50 points or more.

 

2007-08

Bryant wins the NBA MVP award for the first time after averaging 28.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 1.8 steals. The Lakers return to the Finals for the first time since trading Shaq in 2004, losing to the Celtics.

 

2008-09

Bryant wins his first NBA Finals MVP as he averages 32.4 points, 7.4 assists, 5.6 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 1.4 blocks in the Lakers' 4-1 series win against Orlando.

 

2009-10

Bryant is Finals MVP again as the Lakers beat the Celtics in Game 7. In the series, Bryant averages 28.6 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 2.4 steals.

 

2010-11

Bryant has 37 points and 14 rebounds to win his fourth NBA All-Star Game MVP award, tying Bob Pettit's record. The Lakers' three-peat attempt ends in the second round when Dallas sweeps them.

 

2011-12

Despite injuries to his knees, wrist, ankle and shin, as well as a broken nose and concussion courtesy of Dwyane Wade's hard foul in the All-Star Game, Bryant averages 27.9 points. But the Lakers again exit in the second round of the playoffs, this time against the Thunder.

 

2012-13

The Lakers fire coach Mike Brown after a slow start, and in the second half of the season, Bryant's scoring gets the team back in the playoff hunt. But he tears his Achilles tendon on April 12 against the Warriors.

 

2013-14

Bryant returns from his Achilles injury in December but lasts just six games before a knee fracture ends his season.

 

2014-15

One of the highlights of this season comes on Dec. 14 in Minnesota when Bryant passes Michael Jordan for third place on the NBA's all-time scoring list. Bryant averages 22.3 points, but he plays just 35 games after sustaining a torn rotator cuff, which ends his season in January.

 

2015-16

In a 111-77 loss at Golden State on Nov. 25, Bryant shoots 1 for 14 and finishes with just four points. Four days later, Bryant announces he will retire at the end of the season. He finishes an emotional farewell tour with a 60-point explosion in his last game on April 13 against Utah.

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