@head:Jordan vs. Kobe: greatness vs. goodness
@body:With Michael Jordan’s return to basketball this season, there have been fans, players, commentators and even coaches, that have made judgments on the best b-baller in the world. They have criticized Jordan for making a sub-par return to the league, for being too old and for not holding the legendary status he created before he departed back in 1998. A frequent comparison is Michael’s game versus L.A. Laker Kobe Bryant’s.
Let me break it down: Kobe is 23 years old and he’s been in the league almost six seasons. Michael Jordan is almost 39 years old, and he’s in the his 14th season now. There is a 16-year age gap and an eight NBA season difference; that’s only the beginning.
Usually in situations like these, the younger player gets the advantage and it really doesn’t take rocket science to figure out why. Kobe is hitting the prime of his career right now. He can jump, he’s the perfect size for his position and he’s been blessed with extraordinary talent. People think Jordan should still beat him, dunk on him and make him look dumb on a crossover.
We’ve seen this season that Jordan has had to find craftier ways to score his points than jumping over people. Using his strength, he relies more on posting up and on jump shots. The Lakers are better than the Wizards and they proved it Tuesday night, when they beat Washington without Shaq to contribute his 26.1 ppg and 10.8 rebounds. Obviously, Jordan is not as quick as he once was and probably lost some of his amazingly quick ups at his tender age of 38. So Jordan may not beat Kobe with his team or one-on-one.
There can’t be a comparison of both players at the ages of 23, rather than by season. Why not? Because Bryant has been in the league since he was 18 and when Jordan came in when he was 21, so when Jordan was 23 it was only his second season in the NBA. But, let’s look at what Jordan was doing during his sixth season in the NBA.
He was averaging 33.6 ppg, 6.9 rebounds and 6.3 assists. Damn. Granted Michael hadn’t won his first title yet, but he also didn’t have Shaquille O’Neal as his counterpart to lead the league in four categories and come in third in scoring. MJ had also racked up a league MVP award (87-88), four All-NBA first team selections (86-90), NBA Defensive Player of the Year (87-88), three NBA All-Defensive First Team Selections (87-90) and four scoring titles (86-90). He also had two slam-dunk titles, while Kobe has declined invites several times after his only outing in his rookie season.
Kobe in his sixth season: 26.3 ppg, 5.5 boards, 5.5 assists and one slam-dunk title. Michael beats Kobe in every category when we look at the numbers.
There’s no question which man is a better leader. Michael has taken more game winning shots, molded his teammates to be winners and carried an incredible load in order for his team to win throughout his years. Six NBA titles if you didn’t know. Bryant is a great player, but he’ll never be what Michael Jordan was. It’s amazing that Jordan has come back to play a third time at his age and is still averaging 25.1 ppg, 5.2 rebounds and 6.2 assists. Many said Jordan would come back and not even average in the upper teens or have his team in playoff contention.
We had a chance to see a real difference between the two players at the All-Star game on Sunday as well. Kobe received the MVP, but he was booed during the course of the game and during the presentation of his award. Kobe was booed because he wasn’t playing All-Star game basketball where the players look for dunks and their teammates for spectacular plays. He was playing as if it were a regular season game, and Phil (Jackson) was telling him to launch his 25 shots attempts and be the center of the offense.
One thing I know for sure is that Jordan never got booed at an All-Star Game, or at many other places for that matter. Jordan has always known how to handle his status and respect his superstar territory. You won’t hear him make arrogant statements about his game or other players. His demeanor on the court is to be admired. No player’s style is comparable to MJ’s, no matter what statistical categories or athletic ability says. Stats aside, Michael will always be one step better than Kobe.