Kobe Bryant 'truly thought he was better than Michael Jordan,' NBA great Tracy McGrady recalls

The late Kobe Bryant was a student of basketball, studied Michael Jordan’s career and maybe more than any other player of his era replicated him on the court.

Tracy McGrady, Bryant’s former counterpart, said in an episode of the “All The Smoke” podcast that it was interesting to be around the Los Angeles Lakers superstar when they were coming up in the NBA.

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“To be around Kobe at 19 years old, bro, you would've thought Kobe had been here before and been around the greats of the game because his mindset was so different than I've ever experienced and ever seen in anybody at 19 years old ... This man really, truly thought he was better than Michael Jordan,” McGrady told former players Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson.

McGrady, like Bryant, came into the NBA right out of high school. He played three seasons with the Toronto Raptors before he eventually played for the Orlando Magic, among other teams later in his career.

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McGrady wouldn’t become the great he was until the 2000-01 season when he averaged 26.8 points per game for the Magic. He said on the podcast he believes the Raptors would have competed for an NBA title if he stayed on the team.

“We would've played for a championship,” McGrady said. “We would've faced the Lakers if I would've stayed, there's no doubt about that, but, there was so much stuff going on in Toronto with the organization. There was no way I could've stayed.”

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The 2000-01 Raptors team may have featured McGrady, Vince Carter, Antonio Davis and Alvin Williams. Without McGrady, the team finished 47-35 and lost in the NBA Playoffs to the Philadelphia 76ers.