Last night after the conclusion of the amazing Suns-Lakers series, which I told you was going to be great, I was ready to write my wrap up of the series. I had my Itunes going, some drinks by the computer and, as always, I had my Twitter(www.twitter.com/chaseruttig ) and facebook tabbed up just to provide a distraction every now and then. This of course is always the downfall of me getting articles done, but last night it provided inspiration.
My twitter and facebook started exploding with the MJ/Kobe debate right about the time Kobe started jawing with Alvin Gentry and doing the airplane. I ignored it as it was an extremely Jordanesque performance in the fourth quarter and for the whole series if you think about it, but once the post-game presser's were done the debate kept going, which shocked me.
It seems at least once every year or so someone has to write their article on Kobe vs. Michael Jordan, saying it is unfair to both and other drivel that gets recycled by almost every sportswriter who follows basketball and needs a column idea.
I am not here to talk about who is better, because it is impossible to determine. They have similar stats, but people hang on to Jordan because he is a marketing icon and he has the legion of Air Jordan-wearing, extremely casual fans locked up. Kobe will never be that guy, but that shouldn't change how the debate should go, but it does.
Damn I fell into the trap, it is hard to stay away from it folks, it really is.
What I am here to talk about is why they get compared to one another and how it isn't blasphemy to compare the two. And how it definitely isn't unfair to Kobe Bryant to always have the shadow of Jordan on him, which is my biggest pet peeve about this subject, like it is unfair for a legendary basketball player to compared to the person who is consider to be the greatest of all time, get a grip people.
This debate occurs because the players are so similar.
It is why we compare Reggie Miller to Ray Allen when talking about great perimeter shooters. How Nash and Stockton get compared, how Russell and Wilt get compared. If two great players play similar positions there is going to be that debate it's never going to change.
No one has ever told me that it was unfair that Tim Duncan was being compared to Karl Malone and Kevin McHale when the powers that be were trying to peg him with the "best power forward of all time" label.
Kobe and Jordan were both shooting guards, both were amazing dunkers at the start of their careers, buth both developed an all around game. They both were coached by Phil Jackson. The list goes on and on.
But because Jordan is such a global icon and had the perfect storm of marketing and on court moments, people think he is above all of these comparisons, but do we do the same in any other sport?
Pele is compared to Maradonna, Gretzky was compared to Mario, all of these players are out of this world talents who brought something special to the table and are in a league of their own in their respective sports, but they still get compared to a similar player who is equal in on court talent.
Michael Jordan was great, but Kobe Bryant is also great. They will always be spoken about with the same breath, why is that so hard to accept? Why do we continue the charade?
Michael Jordan isn't the clear cut choice for greatest basketball player of all-time, and you want to know why?
It is impossible to compare a center to a shooting guard. Basketball, for all the people who diss it, is an extremely complex game. Players are so different and do different things well. But because of this, it will be impossible to ever determine who is the best, until there is a player who is heads and shoulders above the rest.
But until that happens, keep the debate alive. I got your back