Recently, I was reading a Laker article on this very site when I saw a giant debate in the comments section about whether or not Kobe would ever be as good as MJ. There, I saw a horde of Kobe haters going on and on about how Kobe's nothing compared to Michael Jordan.
The funny thing is, Michael Jordan wasn't mentioned once in the article.
I wrote an article some time ago, debunking the overused misconception of Kobe Bryant being just a role-player on the early 2000s championship Laker teams. Today, I'd like to address another, perhaps even more intolerable, argument that Kobe's detractors hurl whenever they feel the need to quench their appetite of hatred.
That argument always includes some variation of, "He's no Michael Jordan."
Essentially, those haters would dismiss all Kobe has accomplished, because he's not the greatest player of all time. Some of them might even get a little more creative, with "He copied Jordan's game." I've even heard "He even copies how Michael Jordan walks."
That's right. Kobe's gotten heat because he walks like Michael Jordan...Does anyone else find this as childish as I do?
But moving on to the substance of these haters' claims, they essentially say that Kobe will never be the best, he is a wannabe Mike on the court and that he copies Mike's mannerisms.
The first claim is true. Michael Jordan was, and is, the greatest player in NBA history. There aren't many who would dispute that.
The funny part is, Kobe doesn't dispute it either.
This video, taken prior to the 2008 NBA Finals, has Kobe clearly saying he wants nothing to do with the MJ comparisons. He knows he will likely never reach MJ's pinnacle of greatness, and all he wants is, and I quote, to be the very best that he can be.
If Kobe himself is so quick to dismiss the MJ comparisons, why do Kobe haters insist on harping on about it?
Now, as for copying Jordan's game, Kobe has certainly done that to a degree. However, this has nothing to do with wanting to be Jordan and everything to do with maximizing his effectiveness as he ages.
Michael Jordan was once renown for his ridiculous athleticism. Once age took that from him, he became arguably the second best jump shooter in the game, after Reggie Miller. He then developed a deadly fadeaway from the post that was nearly impossible to block.
Kobe Bryant, on the other hand, was also renown for his ridiculous athleticism. Once he got older, he developed his jump shot to arguably the second best in the NBA, after Ray Allen. He then worked with Hakeem Olajuwon to strengthen his post game.
Kobe has evolved as a player because his aging has made it a necessity. It has nothing to do with "Wanting to be Jordan."
Now, don't get me wrong. There are a lot of legitimate reasons to criticize Kobe Bryant. He still takes poor shots far too often, occasionally has trouble trusting his teammates and often slacks on defense when asked to cover a lesser player.
But when somebody throws in any comparison to Michael Jordan in an attempt to marginalize Kobe, they deserve to be ridiculed and treated as the—forgive the crude use of language—trolls that they are.
Kobe has dismissed every attempt made at comparing him to MJ because he knows that when it's all set and done, he will have carved for himself a new spot in NBA history. He is already one of the greatest players to ever grace the NBA, and no amount of futile comparisons to the greatest of all time will change that.