Kobe Bryant vs. Michael Jordan: Comparing Careers If Kobe Gets Sixth Title
Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant are often compared to one another, sparking debate as to who’s the greater player.
Those arguing for Jordan usually end up with the upper hand in the debate because he has won six titles in comparison to Bryant’s five.
But, what if Bryant wins a sixth title? Can we still safely say that Jordan is still better?
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If Bryant were to win a sixth title, he would be on the same level as Jordan winning-wise.
So, let's call this one a wash.
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Both Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant possess amazing offensive repertoires.
Like Jordan, Bryant has displayed a great mid-range game, post-game and the ability to get to the rim over his career.
What sets Jordan apart from Bryant, however, is his efficiency.
Jordan shot 49.7 percent from the field during his career, while Bryant has shot 45.3 percent from the field thus far.
Furthermore, Bryant has never shot 50 percent from the field, while Jordan did it six times in his career.
In addition to being more efficient, Jordan scored more than Bryant, too, considering he played in fewer seasons than Bryant has.
Jordan averaged 28.3 points per game per 36 min and won 10 scoring titles.
Bryant has averaged 25.0 points per game per 36 min and has won two scoring titles.
Additionally, while Bryant scored 81 points in a game, one the greatest scoring accomplishment in NBA history, Jordan scored 40-plus 211 times and 50-plus 39 times, compared to Bryant’s 122 40-plus point games and 25 50-plus point games.
While Bryant is a better three-point shooter than Jordan was, it is clear that Jordan has the upper hand in the several other categories related to scoring.
And, when one takes into account that Jordan played in an era where dirty defense was often allowed (and Jordan Rules were in place), his offensive abilities garner even more respect.
Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan are not known for their ability to pass and create for others on the offensive end, although it’s clear that both are pretty adept at it.
Statistically, Jordan has the upper hand on Bryant in terms of assists—he averaged 5.3 assists per game in his career compared to Bryant’s 4.7.
In addition, in closing minutes, Bryant tends to force things instead of utilizing the talent around him.
Jordan acted similarly in the early years of his career, but he eventually became a more willing passer.
He trusted his teammates.
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Kobe Bryant has been one of the best defensive players in the game during his career, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed—he has been a part of nine NBA All-Defensive first teams.
Additionally, his defensive win share—an estimate number of wins contributed by a player due to his defense—during his career has been 46.9.
Jordan was also recognized for his defense during his career.
Like Bryant, Jordan was named to nine NBA All-Defensive first teams.
However, his defensive win share is 64.1—keep in mind, he played in fewer regular season games than Bryant has.
Rebounding, another important aspect of defense, favors Jordan, too.
He averaged 5.9 rebounds per game per 36 min, compared to Bryant’s 5.2 rebounds per game per 36 min.
During their respective eras, both Bryant and Jordan were known as the best closers in the league.
In the last five minutes of any close game, each willed their teams to wins by contributing on the offensive end by hitting clutch shots as well as on the defensive end by locking down opponents—that’s why it’s difficult to decipher which has the upper hand when it comes to clutch performance.
However, because Bryant has hit more game-winners in his career, I'll give him the very slight edge.
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Without a doubt, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant were very valuable, having won multiple championships for their respective teams.
However, it’s clear that one’s more valuable than the other.
Over his 15-year career, Jordan produced 214 win shares—an estimate of the number of wins contributed by a single player.
Bryant has produced 162.4 in his 16-year career.
Additionally, Jordan produced an average of .250 win shares per 48 min during his career and Bryant has posted an average of .184.
PER (player efficiency rating) is a good measure of a player’s value because it takes into account all the things a player does on the court.
Jordan posted a PER of 27.9 in his career and Bryant has posted a 23.4.
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Kobe Bryant has been one of the most durable players in recent memory.
Despite injuries to his wrist, knee, finger, shin, ankle and whatever else you can think of, Bryant has only missed 17 games in the past four seasons combined.
Jordan displayed great durability in his career, too, especially when he came back to play for the Washington Wizards at age 38.
However, Bryant’s ability to play with such a wide array of injuries is remarkable.
If Bryant wins a sixth championship, he will certainly go down as one of the best playoff performers in league history.
So far, his win share per 48 min during his playoff career is .156.
In addition, he has averaged over 25.5 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game.
Jordan is statistically superior to Bryant during the playoffs, however, possessing a win share per 48 min of .255 and having scored 33.4 points, 6.4 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game.
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Although the gap between Jordan and Bryant will shrink if Bryant wins a sixth championship, he will still remain a good margin behind His Airness.
This isn’t an insult to Bryant in any means—he is undoubtedly one of the greatest ever.
However, it is evident that he will remain the second best shooting guard of all time.
The tide may turn if Bryant can win a seventh title, but that's looking too far ahead.
Final verdict: Jordan