Kobe didn't want to miss the chance to play against MJ before he retired.
Kobe Bryant is one of only a handful of superstars who successfully made the leap from high school to the NBA, a trend that has since gone extinct with the implementation of the "one-and-done" rule.
While countless others have gotten lost in the shuffle in their attempt to make it in the league right out of high school, it didn't take long for Kobe to establish himself as someone that belonged, earning All Star honors in just his second season. As it turns out, there was more that went into Bryant's decision to forego college than just being able to compete with the league's biggest stars.
According to former Laker John Salley, Kobe told him he skipped the opportunity to play for the Duke Blue Devils all those years ago because he heard Michael Jordan was considering retirement and he didn't want to miss the chance to go up against one of his idols.
Check out Salley's comments in the video embedded below.
Bryant was selected 13th overall by the Charlotte Hornets (and promptly traded to the Los Angeles Lakers) in the 1996 NBA Draft, making him the first guard ever drafted directly out of high school.
Jordan wound up retiring just two seasons into Kobe's NBA career, but he returned for two more seasons from 2001-2003 as a member of the Washington Wizards, just as The Black Mamba was really starting to cook. Of course, that includes Kobe's 55-point game against MJ's Wizards in 2003.