Kobe or King James: Who Is the Next Michael Jordan?

AccountKiller AccountKiller@AccountKillerContributor IMay 16, 2010

PHOENIX - FEBRUARY 15:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Western Conference walks across the court in front of LeBron James #23 of the Eastern Conference during the 58th NBA All-Star Game, part of 2009 NBA All-Star Weekend at US Airways Center on February 15, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona.  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 Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Michael Jordan could take over a game at any moment. He would single-handedly control the contest, leading his team to a win in the process. Most NBA followers have said that no player will ever match Jordan's forceful dominance.

In the current NBA stratosphere, two players have come close to emulating Jordan's influence.

Kobe Bryant and LeBron James can do it all on the basketball court. They have both provided Jordan-esque performances. They have both been mentioned in discussions regarding the next Michael Jordan. But only Kobe Bryant truly resembles the great legend.

While there is no doubting James' dominance, he's won consecutive MVP awards, LeBron approaches the game differently than Jordan. LeBron sees basketball as a team sport. And through the first three-and-a-half quarters of the game, he distributes the basketball evenly to all of his teammates. LeBron still scores, but does so in short spurts, or at the free throw line.

James' game is geared toward triple doubles. James fits the prototypical NBA point-forward to a T. He led his team in rebounds (before the addition of Antwan Jamison), points and assists.

LeBron's game mirrors Oscar Robertson more than Michael Jordan. James is not a selfish player, and therefore has faced disappointment in the playoffs. He relies on his teammates, not on himself, to carry the Cavaliers. Jordan would never put the fate of a game in anyone else's hands.

Kobe Bryant is an assassin. No team has been able to stop his scoring production on a consistent basis. Like Jordan, Bryant plays the shooting guard position. He averages about the same number of assists and rebounds as MJ did. Bryant demonstrated how unstoppable of a scorer he can be when he put up 81 points against the Toronto Raptors.

Kobe Bryant also has four NBA championships (four more than LeBron) and is only two away from matching Jordan's six. Bryant possesses a scorers mentality. It's the same mentality Jordan had as a player.

After one game, Jordan was told that "there is no 'I' in team." Jordan simply responded, "There is an 'I' in win." Bryant would have answered the question in a similar manner.

Bryant may resemble Michael Jordan more closely than LeBron James. But by no means does that mean he will be a better player than James when it is all said and done. Bryant has not proved to the world that he is better than Jordan, or James. Bryant simply plays basketball with Jordan's killer instinct mentality.

LeBron may win seven NBA championships, but he should not be compared to Michael Jordan in any case. They don't play like one another, therefore James and Jordan can't be compared to one another.