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Michael Jordan vs. Kobe Bryant: Why the Debate Needs To End

BARCELONA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 07:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers smiles during the NBA Europe Live match between Los Angeles Lakers and Regal FC Barcelona at the at Palau Blaugrana on October 7, 2010 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
David Ramos/Getty Images
Brent CaldwellContributor IDecember 18, 2010

Michael or Kobe, Kobe or Michael?

Just who is the greatest of all time?

This debate needs to end, and it needs to end now, for a very good reason. Beyond any and all stats, more significant than number of championships, prevailing over all records and accomplishments, there is one key reason why this debate needs to cease.

Because Kobe's career hasn't finished yet.

It seems so obvious to me, and yet the battle wages on between "Kobe-lovers" and "Jordan-lovers."

Let's be clear, most basketball fans can make a fairly good argument for putting Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird amongst the top 5-10 players of all time. And that's fine. 

But when you start to make the comparisons to present-day players who are still carving out their legacy, the debate becomes even more subjective.

Granted the entire debate over "greatest of all time" is a subjective one, as there is no set-in-stone formula for determining such an accolade. Based on number of championships, it's Bill Russell. Based on points scored, it's Kareem. Based on shooting percentage, it's Wilt Chamberlain. When it comes to leading the league in scoring, nobody did it more than Jordan, and MJ also scored more points than anyone in the playoffs.

The point is that there are an almost infinite number of stats as well as variables which go into analyzing every player's NBA career. Are Bill Russell's 11 NBA titles less significant than MJ's six because of the significantly fewer number of teams in the league at the time? I don't know, that's a matter of personal opinion. Is it fair to compare guards to forwards or centers? I haven't a clue. There's no set rules for this sort of thing.

So we can banter back and forth all day long about who is better, Kobe or MJ, but it isn't a relevant debate at this point in time because while Michael's career is over, Kobe still has presumably many years left in his. 

It's difficult enough to compare players from the past because they all played in different eras, with different rules and a different supporting cast. And that makes it nearly impossible to throw in comparisons of modern-day players.

So here's an idea: let's all settle down a little bit, take a seat in our favorite chair or on our favorite couch, grab our favorite beverage (I'll have an ice cold root beer, please!) and let's all watch some basketball. Let's watch as Kobe, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Steve Nash and a whole host of others do battle where it counts; on the court. 

And then, years from now, when those players have all cemented their legacy in the NBA, then we can truly start to compare Jordan to Kobe.

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