For all those hardcore NBA fans who honestly believe that Michael Jordan created the game of basketball, let me stop you right there. It only seemed that way, especially when looking in the rear-view mirror of a career that was mostly storybook and unequaled in the annals of the sport.
There never was and never will be another Michael Jordan. His individual statistics during his 15-year career (all but two with the Chicago Bulls) justify the recent comments made by Los Angeles Lakers head coach Phil Jackson when he told the Los Angeles Times' T.J. Simers to “stop comparing anyone to Michael Jordan. It’s just not fair. He was remarkable.”
Jackson, of course, should know. He’s coached two of the greatest players the game has ever seen in Jordan and Kobe Bryant. While acknowledging Bryant as an exceptionally gifted player in his own right, Jackson is quick to point out that the Lakers’ superstar is not MJ: “It's one thing to hope to be like him (Jordan), it's another thing to be like him."
The comparisons are inevitable, simply because both played the same position, they are the same height, they played for the same coach and they won almost the same number of NBA championships (Jordan has six, Bryant five). Bryant has emulated Jordan in many aspects of his game and has said as much.
Is Michael Jordan a better all-around player than Kobe Bryant? If statistics mean something, then the simple answer is yes. But if heart and will to win count for anything, then Bryant surely would give Jordan a run for his money.
Phil Jackson is right: Kobe Bryant is not Michael Jordan. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.