Whenever Michael Jordan is brought up in basketball conversations, usually comments such as, “No one will ever be as good as Jordan,” “Jordan is the greatest of all-time,” are quickly retorted, almost instinctively. When MJ is used in comparison to current players, something like “Talk to me when (insert elite player here) gets 6 championships,” usually gets thrown around, too. Those statements are all fair- numbers don’t lie.
However, my generation was not able to truly see and experience the phenomenon that Jordan was. Other than NBA Hardwood Classics on NBA TV, I haven’t been able to witness who every basketball mind deems as the greatest ever. I believe that Kobe Bryant is the Michael Jordan of my generation. When my future kids try to compare their favorite player to Kobe, I will most likely say something along the lines of, “No one will ever be as good as the Black Mamba.”
MJ has 6 rings, while the Bryant has 5. Both are fourteen time all-stars, two time Olympic gold medalists, ten time First Team All-NBA honorees, and nine time All-NBA Defensive First Team honorees. Jordan has Kobe beat with 32,292 career points (compared to Bryant’s 29,484), in post season points (5987 to 5640), and in field goals (2188 – 2014). Bryant nearly triples MJ’s three point field goal total (1505 to 581), but Jordan has better statistics in everything else; from total rebounds, assists, blocks, and steals, Michael Jordan is the better player.
The only difference between their stats is that Jordan’s are set in stone; there is no changing them unless he makes another Space Jam type comeback. Kobe Bryant still puts on his jersey every night, laces up his shoes, and does everything that he can to win. His numbers will grow over the amount of season that he has left in him, whatever that number may be.
This year, the 34 year-old Bryant will be playing with Dwight Howard and Steve Nash on the Los Angeles Lakers, in hopes to replicate the “Big Three” formula that earned the Miami Heat a championship last year. Bryant dropped 27.9 PPG (and had 4.6 APG) in 2012-2013, and if he wasn’t held out of games towards the end of the season, he could’ve caught the eventual scoring champion, Kevin Durant.
The argument could be made that the Black Mamba is slowing down, so there is no way he could catch any of Jordan’s numbers. In 2010-2011, Kobe had 25.3 PPG, and last season improved that to 27.9 PPG. After an entire season of wear and tear on his body, a year filled with injuries (elbow, nose, finger, and more), and the grind of a season that bunched games together due to the preseason lockout, Bryant upped his PPG a whole 2.6 points. Yes, he is getting older, but he isn’t slowing down. The statistics argument works for MJ, so it works for Kobe, too. Like I said before, numbers don’t lie.
I am not, by any means, saying that Kobe Bryant is a better basketball player than Michael Jordan. Jordan is the greatest ever, but Bryant is the closest one to matching his legacy. In 2012-2013, Kobe Bryant will most likely be competing for a championship with the Lakers, which would be his sixth.
After this season is over, the debate of Kobe vs. Jordan just might get a bit more heated.
Follow Thomas Duffy on Twitter @TD_Knicks for NBA news, updates, rumors, thoughts, and opinions.