Michael Jordan vs. Kobe Bryant: A Head-to-Head Comparison After 15 NBA Seasons
The game was an unbalanced, unhinged and unbelievable finish to a series that left people wondering what happened to the two-time defending world champions.
Ever since Kobe came into the league in 1996, people have compared him to Michael Jordan.
From their similar physical size (both are 6'6"; Jordan's official playing weight was listed at 215 pounds, Bryant at 205 pounds), to their uncanny abilities to put the ball in the basket, the two have been put side-by-side in countless conversations and comparisons.
While these two superstars' careers overlapped, they were legitimately a part of two different eras.
Jordan was the final punctuation on a time that also featured all-time great players like Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Isiah Thomas.
Kobe helped usher in a new season in league history that includes superstars such as Shaquille O'Neil and LeBron James.
After 15 seasons, Michael Jordan retired from the game (for the final time) at the end of the 2002-03 season.
After 15 seasons, Kobe Bryant is still writing his story.
If you put Jordan and Bryant's on-court performances and achievements alongside each other, which player comes out on top?
Lets look and see how these two superstars compare after a decade and a half in the NBA.
Rookie Year Awards
Michael Jordan was outstanding from the very first year of his career.
He not only was selected as an NBA All-Rookie First Team (1985) member but also as the NBA Rookie of the Year, scoring 28.2 points, grabbing 6.5 rebounds and dishing 5.9 assists per game.
Kobe Bryant came straight out of high school into the NBA. He played in 71 games as a rookie, starting only six.
While at times showing great promise, Kobe averaged a mere 7.6 ppg, 1.9 rpg and 1.3 apg his initial year in the Association.
NBA All-Star Game MVP Awards
Both Jordan and Bryant have been perennial All-Stars, with His Airness being voted in 14 times and the Black Mamba being selected 13 times.
MJ was the NBA All-Star Game MVP three times (1988, 1996, 1998).
Kobe Bryant has already been selected four times (2002, 2007, 2009, 2011).
All-Defensive First Team Selection
Michael Jordan in his heyday, and Bryant right now, are more than just players who can score points. Both of them are exceptional defenders.
MJ was an NBA All-Defensive First Team selection nine times (1988-1993, 1996-1998), which was a record when he retired.
With the announcement about this year's ADFT, Kobe has also been selected nine times (2000, 2003-2004, 2006-2011).
The only other players in NBA history to match this are Kevin Garnett and Gary Peyton.
Career Regular Season Scoring Averages
It's one thing to be able to score lots of points in an NBA game.
It's another thing to be able to do that throughout your entire career.
Michael Jordan averaged 30.1 points per game over his career.
With that mark, Jordan carries the highest career regular season average in NBA history and has scored a total of 32,292 points.
So far, Kobe is averaging 25.3 points per game for his career.
At the end of the 2010-11, Bryant had scored 27,868 points.
Career Playoff Scoring Averages
The great players in league history not only score during the regular season, but take care of business in the postseason too.
Michael Jordan played 179 playoff games in his career, scoring 5,987 points, which comes to an average of 33.4 ppg, the league record for postseason scoring average.
His highest playoff average came in second year (1986) when he put up an amazing 43.7 points per game.
MJ only averaged less than 30 ppg in the playoffs in his rookie season (29.3 ppg).
Kobe Bryant, as of this year's playoffs, including this most recent series with the Dallas Mavericks, has played in 208 playoff games and has scored 5,280 points, which comes out to 25.3 ppg.
Bryant's highest playoff average came in 2007, when he averaged 32.8 ppg.
Kobe averaged 22.8 ppg in this year's playoffs, his lowest average in over a decade (21.1 in 2000).
NBA Scoring Championships
The NBA's scoring title is awarded to the player with the highest points per game average in a given season.
Michael led the league in scoring ten times (1987-1993, 1996-98) in his 15-year career.
Kobe has, up to this point, won the NBA scoring title twice (2006, 2007) in his 15 years in the league.
Jordan's 10 titles are the most in league history.
Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain are the only players to have won seven consecutive scoring titles.
All-NBA Team Selections
The All-NBA Team is an annual honor bestowed on the best players in the league following every season.
The All-NBA Team is composed of three five-man lineups—a first, second and third team.
Malone has the most All-NBA first team honors with eleven, while Bob Cousy, Bob Pettit, Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Jordan are all tied for second-most with 10.
Kobe, so far, has been selected for the All-NBA first team eight times.
NBA Most Valuable Player Awards
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar won the NBA Most Valuable Player Award six times.
Both Bill Russell and Michael Jordan (1988, 1991,1992, 1996 and 1998) won the award five times while Wilt Chamberlain won the award four times in his career.
Moses Malone, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson each won the award three times, while Bob Pettit, Karl Malone, Tim Duncan, Steve Nash and LeBron James have each won it twice.
Kobe has been named league MVP once (2008).
NBA Finals MVP Awards
The Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award is given to the player who performs best on the biggest stage in the league.
Since its inception, the award has been given to 26 different players. Michael Jordan, who led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA Championships from 1991 to 1993 and 1996 to 1998, is the only player to win the award six times.
Magic Johnson, Shaquille O'Neal and Tim Duncan all won the award three times.
Willis Reed, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird, Hakeem Olajuwon and Kobe Bryant won the award twice.
Jordan and O'Neal are the only players to win the award in three consecutive seasons (Jordan accomplished the feat on two separate occasions).
Olajuwon and Bryant have won the award in two consecutive seasons.
The highest distinction for any NBA coach or player is to win league championships.
Many a career has been questioned because the individual wasn't able to help his team capture a title (see Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Reggie Miller, etc.)
Both Jordan and Kobe have willed their teams to victories at this highest level.
Bill Russell was the centerpiece of the Celtics dynasty that won 11 NBA Championships during Russell's 13-year career.
Jordan led the Chicago Bulls to two NBA Championship "Three-peats" (1991-1993, 1996-1998).
Kobe helped the Los Angeles Lakers to one "three-peat" and also back-to-back championships (2000-02, 2009-10).
While Kobe Bryant's career has been outstanding from so many different angles, his on-court performance does not come close to the accomplishments of Michael Jordan.
While Kobe still has time to add to his resume, he will finish his career still looking up to His Airness.