Breakthrough Discovery! Both Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant Are Great!

Matt SmithCorrespondent IOctober 6, 2009

ATLANTA, GA - FEBRUARY 9:  Michael Jordan (Washington Wizards) #23 of the Eastern Conference All-Stars jokes with Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers) #8 of the Western Conference All-Stars during the 2003 NBA All-Star Game on February 9, 2003 at Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER:  User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images license agreement. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Other sports seemed to have grasped the concept of appreciating multiple great players, but unfortunately, there is a loud minority in the basketball world that has not yet got the memo.  We are allowed to have more than one iconic player, it is possible to have several "out of this world" talented players.

Think about the other major sports and all the greats past and present.  In baseball, we are currently blessed to watch the greatness of Albert Pujols, but his greatness does not diminish Ken Griffey Jr.'s. Or take Tony Gwynn, for instance.

That man was a hitting machine I don't care what era you put him in he is All-Time great but his hitting excellence does not take away from Ted Williams.  Willie Mays and Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle and Hank Aaron are all icons.

Football is the same, Jim Brown, Walter Payton, Barry Sanders, LaDainian Tomlinson, and Adrian Peterson are all revered by the masses of football fans and their extraordinary talents are appreciated.

Muhammad Ali, Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, Sugar Ray Robinson, Sugar Ray Leonard, Floyd Mayweather, yeah we can debate who's the greatest but there is a great respect for sports greatness.

For some reason in the case of one Kobe Bean Bryant there seems to be an inability to appreciate his greatness.  I've read articles and seen entire web sites devoted to proving that Kobe is not worthy of being mentioned in the same breath of the great Michael Jordan.

This needs to stop. 

Yes, Michael Jordan is great, considered by many to be the greatest but the sport is big enough to have more than one great player and this obsession with protecting Jordan's special lair is unnecessary and childish. 

Sports is like a relay race of greatness and each era passes the torch to the next, special talent after special talent that we are blessed to watch and enjoy do their thing for as long as their bodies will allow then the next group comes along.  Each generation is influenced by the preceding ones, it's the cycle of sports life.

In basketball, there is a rich history and connection between the guards, forwards and centers of the past, present and future.

Some may think Wilt is the greatest player of all time or the greatest center of all time, others may think Bill Russell is the best, some may pick Kareem or Shaq and that debate is fine but each guy was incredible.

The high flying shooting guard/small forward 6'4" to 6'8" range player has provided the NBA with some of it's best players Elgin Baylor, Julius Erving, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant to name some of the best. 

There are other greats and there are more to come in the future but we need not get caught up in worshiping one player and discrediting the next guy. 

Michael Jordan was the perfect storm, his talent, skills, athleticism and intangibles were all off the charts, his stats are mind blowing and his winning sets him apart from most. 

The timing of his career the mid '80s he took a league that Magic & Bird made popular and then you combine his talent and Madison Ave and Nike and you have an unstoppable force.

Kobe comes along and is cut from the same cloth, same size, same skill sets, clearly influenced by Jordan (as was every other player post Mike) and he comes straight out of high school and won titles younger than Michael and had a flair for the incredible. 

With all his skills and swagger and winning early and playing for the most popular and most hated Lakers, I guess the backlash was to be expected but in the midst of all the fussing and arguing and hating and defending some of you have missed out on one the greatest athletes the sports world has ever produced. 

And don't give me the "he's cocky", lot's of these pros are cocky and Jordan was pretty cocky himself.

People can use stats to support their opinions and focus on the mistakes these athletes make in their personal lives or on the field.  Well try not to judge the players personal lives because they are human and flawed just like us fans.

In Kobe Bryant, I see a player who plays to win, trains hard, practices hard, plays tenacious defense, leaves it all on the court, can score inside, mid-range and outside, can handle the ball, take you right handed or left, attacks the boards, leads his team in assists, plays big in the clutch and has proven it with four NBA championships and an Olympic Gold Medal.

(Yeah but Michael had a better that all you got)...Mike is the GOAT. We all loved him. He's retired now. Let's enjoy the current players, how bout that.

On the court or field or in the ring is what I'm looking at and just as the baseball world has no problem celebrating Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Willie Mays and Hank Aaron the basketball world should be big enough for both Mike and Kobe to be great.