MichaeI Jordan and Kobe Bryant: Imagine If The Two Superstars Switched Places

Mike B.Correspondent ISeptember 12, 2010

Michael Jordan vs. Kobe Bryant. An NBA superstar of the past vs. an NBA superstar of today.

Who's better?

Sometimes, younger fans give the nod to Bryant since they never watched Jordan play in his prime and feel that Jordan only dominated in the 1990s because the decade was watered down.

On the other hand, older fans claim Jordan is the greatest hoops player ever and that Bryant isn't even in the same galaxy because he played in a not-so-competitive era and served as a sidekick to Shaquille O'Neal for years.

Fans' opinions may differ on the subject, but everyone agrees that both players are all-time greats. 

So what if Jordan and Bryant swapped eras? Imagine Kobe playing his best basketball in the '80s and '90s, while prime-MJ graces the hardwood in the 2000s.

Does Bryant lead the Chicago Bulls to six titles? Does Jordan win five rings with the Los Angeles Lakers?   

Let's travel back in time.

Kobe in Chicago

A 21-year-old Bryant is selected by the Bulls with the third overall pick in the 1984 NBA Draft. Unlike Jordan, who averaged 28 points per game as a rookie, Bryant puts in 20 ppg and barely loses to Houston's Hakeem Olajuwon for Rookie of the Year honors.

Bryant eventually emerges as one of the game's top scorers and makes his way onto the Eastern Conference All-Star team year-in and year-out.

With the help of trusty sidekick Scottie Pippen and legendary head coach Phil Jackson, Bryant leads the Bulls from a perennial lottery participant to a team on the rise.

Chicago meets Isiah Thomas' hard-hitting Detroit Pistons in the playoffs four straight years, but fails to break through. The "Kobe Rules" strategy never materializes since Bryant is continuously shut down by the physical "Bad Boys" defense.    

The Bulls don't sniff the NBA Finals in '91, '92, or even '93 as the Lakers, Portland Trail Blazers, and Phoenix Suns all come away with titles.

In '93, after losing to the to New York Knicks in the Eastern Conference Finals, the 30-year-old Bryant retires and later pursues a career in baseball.

After returning to the league in March '95, Bryant leads Chicago to 55 wins—far from 72—in the '95-96 season. However, Bryant fails to reach the Finals once again as his Bulls are stopped by the Shaquille O'Neal and Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway-led Orlando Magic in the Conference Finals.

Bryant steers the Bulls to their first ever Finals appearance in '97, however they fall to the Utah Jazz in seven games. 

The following year, the Bulls lose to the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals in a hard-fought seven game series. Bryant retires for the second time in January '99.

Bryant makes another comeback in 2001 with the Washington Wizards, who he plays with for two seasons. 

He retires in 2003 as a 12-time All-Star with two scoring titles, but no rings,  MVPs, or Defensive Player of the Year awards.

Jordan in L.A.

Jordan is selected 13th overall by his home-state Charlotte Hornets in the 1996 NBA Draft. The 17-year-old kid, fresh out of high school, is then traded to the Lakers in exchange for Vlade Divac.

Jordan comes off the bench for the first half of his rookie season, but following an Eddie Jones trade, he moves into the starting lineup. He goes on to average 12 ppg and earns a spot on the All-Rookie Second Team. 

Within the next few years, Jordan becomes a household name and forms a devastating one-two punch with O'Neal, however the Lakers experience postseason heartaches with coach Del Harris on the sidelines.

Phil Jackson, who never won a ring during his tenure in Chicago, is hired by the Lakers in 1999. 

In 1999-00, Jordan brings home his first MVP and leads the Lakers to a title. He is named Finals MVP as well.  The Lakers also win it all in in 2001 as Jordan wins back-to-back regular-season and Finals MVP awards.

In the offseason, O'Neal, tired of being Jordan's sidekick, demands a trade. The Lakers end up dealing the disgruntled center to Phoenix for a package that includes Jason Kidd and Penny Hardaway. 

Kidd becomes Jordan's "Pippen" and the Lakers reel off six more titles. That's eight in a row, tying the Boston Celtics' record, which for years seemed unbreakable.   

Fast forward to today.

Jordan at 32 years of age, is widely considered the greatest player in NBA history. His resume includes eight championships, six NBA MVPs, eight Finals MVPs, two Defensive Player of the Year Awards, 12 trips to the All-Star Game, and a career scoring average of 35 ppg.

And the scary thing is that his career is far from over.


Who knows what would've happened if Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant had switched places.

Kobe just might have won six championships in the '90s like Jordan. And then again, he might have won one or two or even retired ringless. You would think Jordan definitely would've won at least five titles as a Laker, but of course you never know.

Nobody will ever know.


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