In the continuing debate over who is better, Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant, there is no debate. Michael Jordan is better.
Michael was faster, quicker, leaped higher, had greater hang time, more body control, greater presence, was a purer scorer, was more creative, and was the greatest closer of all time.
Although, Kobe is a better three-point shooter, statistically, and probably a purer shooter, Michael was the better player, and not by a small margin.
Can you imagine what Michael could've done with the rules of today's NBA?
You could probably add 15 points to his average and increase his shooting percentage by 10 percent.
It's possible that he could've broken Wilt Chamberlain's record 100 points in one game.
Pound-for-pound, Michael was the best NBA basketball player ever.
The fact that Kobe copied his moves, adopted his speaking pattern and facial expressions, and occasionally even drives the lane with his tongue out, says it all.
Kobe copied the best, but isn't him. That said, Kobe is the best player in the NBA today.
We have to remember that Kobe is one of the elder statesmen in the NBA today. Though only 31 years old, he is a 14-year veteran of the league.
His legs have a lot of miles on them, and he has accrued a plethora of injuries over the years; the last few years having to play through the season and playoffs with them.
Whether it's been his knee, his back, or fingers, every year he finds a way to beat the other premier teams (and players) in the league.
Let's compare him to some other players in the league.
LeBron is a physical phenomenon.
His height, stature, athleticism, and basketball IQ is amazing, and night after night he is a human highlight reel.
It would be fair to say that he is stronger than Kobe, and maybe a bit quicker than him, but killer instinct and heart count for a lot in sports.
Kobe has bucket loads of both, in the regular season and the playoffs.
LeBron has hit some game winning shots, but if it was the fourth quarter of Game Seven of the finals, and your team was down by one with nine seconds on the clock, who would you want with the ball?
Wade is another complete player. Giving up a few inches to Kobe, he is lightning quick, is an explosive finisher on the drive, and plays stellar defense.
Wade has heart in bunches, and in many ways matches Kobe's nightly output. In the 2008/09 season he averaged more points, steals, and block averages than both Kobe and LeBron.
Kobe is a much better three-point shooter, and with his height, can effectively guard more positions.
While many fans lean towards LeBron being the better player, when taking into account the intangibles, Wade is the closest thing to Kobe in the NBA.
Give Wade three more inches, and we wouldn't be having this discussion.
Durant is one of the up and coming great players in the league. At 6'9"/6'10", he is as nimble as a guard and has great ability to score in bunches.
A pure shooter, Durant is a threat from anywhere on the court. He has good speed, and has learned how to draw fouls as well as his veteran counterparts.
What Durant hasn't shown consistently is the ability to create his own shot. With his shooting percentage under .500 in the regular season, and under .400 in the playoffs, that is something he has to work on.
Putting on a few more pounds will do him well. Working on getting better looks will also make him a better closer.
He has all the talent in the world, but needs a few more years to put it together.
Carmelo is a great scorer with everything he needs, except consistency and killer instinct.
If you could mix Carmelo with Chauncey Billups, and make one player, you would have Kobe Bryant.
Unfortunately for Carmelo, he isn't.
Despite 14 long seasons of wear and tear, injuries, and teams with younger superstars, Kobe is still the best player in the league.
Beyond the media hype and highlight reels of other players, when the game is on the line, there is no better closer in the league today.
He's still playing at a high level, entertaining us night after night and even if you're not a Lakers fan, enjoy him.
Great players like Kobe don't come that often, and since Michael Jordan retired, no one has been better. No one.