Kobe Bryant Jokingly Recalls How Magic Johnson Cheated When They Played Each Other One on One
While Kobe Bryant has claimed he’s never lost a game of one on one in his career, he says fellow Los Angeles Laker legend Magic Johnson pulled out all the stops to become the first to claim the title — even if it meant bending the rules (and score).
Bryant reminisced about the only time he and Johnson faced off against each other in a game of one on one during a team practice. “He called every single foul! Even the ones that weren’t there!” Bryant said during his appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live on Tuesday night to promote his newly released book, Mamba Mentality.
As Bryant, 40, got the upper hand, Johnson — who won five championships with the Lakers in the 1980s and is now the team’s president — began to fudge his points a bit.
“What’s the score?” Johnson asked as they played. “It’s 10-6,” Bryant, who also won five championships with the Lakers before retiring in 2016, replied.
“No, it’s not, it’s 10-9!” Johnson shot back.
At that point, Bryant realized he might be fighting a losing battle. “I’m like, ‘Wait, what the? All right, I’m done!” he said.
While on the show, Kimmel also spoke with Bryant about the current state of the Lakers, who are currently sitting on a 0-3 record to start their season, even after adding superstar LeBron James over the summer. Naturally, the topic of Bryant coming out of retirement to help his former team came up.
“How many games in a row would the Lakers have to lose for you to un-retire, for you to come back to the team?” Kimmel asked Byrant. “If we got to 20, you would think about it, right?”
Bryant gave fans a sliver of hope when he said if the Lakers lose another two games, he would think about it. “You’ll think about it?” Kimmel quickly asked.
“No!” Bryant deadpanned back before laughing.
The Lakers — who, aside from James, retooled their roster by adding veterans like Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee and Lance Stephenson — have still remained a marquee team to watch despite their losing record, partly because they are so unpredictable. During a game against the Houston Rockets on Saturday, two Lakers were suspended for multiple games following a fight in the fourth quarter.
The Lakers’ Brandon Ingram, 21, who is typically quiet and reserved, was suspended for four games without pay for his participation in the fight, while Rondo, 32, was suspended for three games, also without pay. Rockets star Chris Paul, 33, was suspended for two games without pay for his role in the skirmish.
The Lakers ended up losing the game against Houston, and would also their following matchup against the San Antonio Spurs.
“It’s a process. I get it, and we’ll be fine,” James told the Associated Press after the loss. “I didn’t come here thinking we were going to be blazing, storming right out of the gate.”
James and the Lakers will hope to earn their first win on Wednesday night when they visit the Phoenix Suns.