Kobe Bryant vs. Michael Jordan: Who Else Can You Really Compare Them To?
Kobe, Michael, Michael, Kobe. The debate rages on and as fans of both players continue to wage a verbal war that will never be won, it seems a little perspective has been lost through all the battles.
For instance, why does the conversation always boil down to Kobe and Jordan when it comes to discussing the greatest shooting guards to ever play the game?
Maybe it's because no other player even merits a comparison.
Jordan for all practical purposes defined the shooting guard position and from the moment he ascended into legend basketball fans have been searching for his replacement.
Numerous players have been labeled as the "next' Jordan and it would be an understatement to say anyone has ever measured up. Do you remember Harold Miner?
But once Bryant entered the scene the whole "next' conversation shifted.
Miner may have had Jordan's hops but the younger Bryant appeared to have his game, literally.
Watching Bryant in high school was like watching a Jordan imposter, but he was a very good imposter.
Bryant had Jordan's act down-pat from the moves, mannerisms and the wicked first step, but he was still mostly dismissed by Jordan fans until they realized that Bryant had Jordan's court instincts and killer drive as well.
When Bryant began to win NBA championships the comparisons with Jordan intensified and in the process, many of the untruths that are accepted as fact today were formed.
For example since Jordan and Kobe's styles are so similar many people mistakenly assumed that Jordan must have been Bryant's childhood idol when in fact Bryant has said on numerous occasions that he grew up idolizing Magic Johnson.
There is also a misconception that Bryant's career goal was to be a better player than Jordan, and to be honest Bryant's real goal of being remembered as the NBA's all-time greatest player transcends a mere player comparison.
Bryant may never realize his dream of being the NBA's greatest player, but Jordan's fans are not being honest when they say the two players should not be compared, besides what other player can Bryant reasonably be compared to?
Some fans say Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade has surpassed Bryant as the NBA's premier shooting guard, but even that is up for debate. What's not up for debate is any historical comparison.
Wade is about 13,000 points, four NBA championships, a Finals MVP award and several other more subjective league honors away from even being mentioned in any all-time comparison with Bryant.
Wade could craft together a career that eventually rivals Bryant's since his eight career seasons are less than Bryant's 15, but in the present no one would consider Wade a Top 10 all-time player.
But Wade very well could be the third best shooting guard of all time right now, and if that's true then either Bryant and Jordan have prospered from a lack of quality competition at the position, or they have simply been heads and shoulders above the rest.
It's probably a combination of both, but it still strikes me as a little funny how Jordan's fans get upset when he's compared to Bryant.
Bryant may never be regarded as a better player than Jordan, but there are several factors that suggest he has earned the same historical respect.
Jordan is fourth on the NBA's all-time scoring list with 32,292 career points, while Bryant currently sits in sixth on the same list with 27,868 points and has a realistic chance of passing Jordan before he retires.
Bryant has also thrust himself into the argument as the greatest Laker of all time which is pretty impressive considering his main competition for that honor is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson.
In some circles Magic and Kareem are strong contenders for the title of the NBA's greatest player of all time, and if Bryant is good enough to share that legendary space, then surely his game can be compared to Jordan's right?
Jordan's fans will point to his 6-0 record in the NBA Finals and his 50% percent career shooting percentage from the field to prove he is a better all-time player than Bryant, and they make a good case. But this argument is not about who the better player is.
It's more about the reluctance of Jordan's fans to acknowledge that a reasonable comparison between Jordan and Bryant really does exist.
It's not blasphemy to say Bryant and Jordan have similar talent, and just because someone makes that observation doesn't mean that they think Bryant is a better player.
According to Jordan's fans history has already made that judgment, but in Bryant's case the tale is not yet finished.
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