Johnson appeared on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" on Tuesday evening, and Kimmel mentioned how both Johnson and Bryant had referred to each other as the greatest Lakers player of all time.
"It didn't seem like either one of you was just being nice about it. It seemed like you both meant it," Kimmel said, later asking Johnson why he thought Bryant was the greatest.
"We both poured our heart and soul into performing every night in Los Angeles for the greatest fans on earth," Johnson said. "We both were committed to basketball. We were married to basketball. We were married to winning and playing the game the right way."
Johnson added: "Every night that you came to the [Inglewood] Forum, because that's where he first started, and then he was actually able to build Staples Center...you knew you were going to see something special, something great that you've never seen in your life -- and that was Kobe Bryant."
Bryant and his teenage daughter Gianna were among nine people killed Sunday in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.
"That was a punch in the gut for many of us. Kobe was, and I know this might not make sense, but he was just the last person you could ever imagine something like this happening to," Kimmel said on his show earlier this week. Bryant had appeared on Kimmel's show more than a dozen times.
Kimmel added: "He was so strong and handsome and smart and energetic. He was a hero."