Breaking Down Most Striking Similarities Between Kobe and Michael Jordan

Stephen Babb@@StephenBabbFeatured ColumnistAugust 29, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - FEBRUARY 9:  Michael Jordan (Washington Wizards) #23 of the Eastern Conference All-Stars jokes with Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers) #8 of the Western Conference All-Stars during the 2003 NBA All-Star Game on February 9, 2003 at Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER:  User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images license agreement. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Thanks to his first NBA title and third league MVP award, LeBron James has garnered the lion's share of recent Michael Jordan comparisons.

Fair enough, but let's not get too far ahead of ourselves.

James has a long way to go in cementing his already brilliant legacy, and oh by the way, Kobe Bryant is still pretty good. The five rings and countless clutch performances have set Bryant apart, as has his remarkable knack for scoring from anywhere.

But while Kobe's greatness remains obscenely rare, it's not unprecedented.

In fact, his similarities to Jordan are uncanny. Even if James ultimately comes closest to Jordan's record of accomplishment when all is said and done, there's little question that Bryant is the true heir to his style and on-court excellence.

The videotape doesn't lie in this instance.

Perhaps the most striking similarity between the two scorers is their shared preference for the same spots on the floor. Both lights-out mid-range shooters, Jordan and Bryant love rising above their defenders for jumpers from the high and low post alike, and they do a heck of a lot of damage from the top of the key.

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To get those shots off against even the stiffest defenders, these two utilize a dizzying array of spin-moves, fall-aways, pump-fakes and clever footwork.

With their backs to the basket, there's a relentless use of faking a turnaround in one direction before spinning the other way. When facing up, the ability to stop on a dime and pull up for a jumper keeps defenders perpetually off balance.

They also create a sliver of space with that signature leg-kick.

It goes without saying there is a lot of jump in those jump shots. 

Neither Jordan nor Bryant was small for their position. In fact, their 6'6" stature is the prototypical size for a shooting guard. Nevertheless, opposing teams have assigned their best, longest defenders to these guys, if not asking the defense to collapse on them altogether with double and triple teams.

Understanding that kind of defensive attention wasn't going anywhere, Jordan and Bryant simply jumped over those defenders and released their shots somewhere just north of the ionosphere.

The nuances of their games are ridiculously similar. 

You almost get the sense that Kobe Bryant didn't just want to live up to Jordan's legacy. It looks like he wanted to reenact it play for play. He followed in the man's footsteps...literally.

Of course, there are commonalities that transcend what happened on the court.

Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan defined what it meant to be competitive for their respective generations. They knew how to win, the moment to take over and how to translate their superlative talent into leadership.

It was impossible for these guys to be overconfident, because there's always been the most legitimate of reasons for that confidence.

The resulting celebrity and global image reflect as much even now.

There may never be another Jordan, but you might think twice after comparing him to Kobe Bryant.