Kobe Bryant vs. Michael Jordan: The Real Comparison

Armen DacityCorrespondent IOctober 22, 2010

Kobe Bryant vs. Michael Jordan: The Real Comparison

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    ATLANTA - FEBRUARY 9:  Michael Jordan (Washington Wizards) #23 of the Eastern Conference All-Stars talks with Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers) #8 of the Western Conference All-Stars at the 2003 NBA All-Star Game on February 9, 2003 at Philips Arena in Atl
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Are you as sick of the fake Kobe Bryant/Michael Jordan comparisons as I am?

    Seriously, why is not good enough for Lakers fans to simply accept that they have ONE OF THE GREATEST players of all time.  Why must they insist on trying to argue that Kobe is the greatest.

    I'm not a Bulls fan.  I fact, I hated how the Bulls made it impossible for my team, the Heat, to ever truly hope to make the Finals in the 1990s.

    I'm also, contrary to popular belief, not a Lakers hater.  In fact, I always pulled for the Showtime Lakers over the Larry Bird Celtics.

    I'm going to stay away from subjective opinion here and just present facts.

    I will look at each player's five best seasons in several statistical categories, as well as their career playoff stats in each of those categories.

    In doing so, I will demonstrate why the Kobe vs. Jordan argument is a farce. 

    Kobe is not even close to Jordan.

Points Per Game

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    Here are the top 5 regular season PPG totals for MJ and Kobe:

    37.1  Jordan

    35.4  Kobe

    35.0  Jordan

    33.6  Jordan

    32.6  Jordan

    Four of the top five belong to MJ. 

    Does the fact that the two played in different decades impact this statistic?  Not really.  While Jordan had some advantages in terms of the 3 point line, he also played during the "Jordan rules" years when hand-checking was entirely legal. 

    Who has the higher playoff average?

    Jordan: 33.4 ppg

Field Goal Percentage

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    Here are the top 5 FG% years for the two players:

    .539  Jordan

    .538  Jordan

    .535  Jordan

    .526 Jordan

    .519 Jordan

    Kobe has never had a season in which he shot 50%.  This one isn't even close.

    Certainly can't blame this one on different decades.  The basket is the same size and height today as it was in the 1990s.

    Who has the higher career playoff FG%?

    Jordan .487

Rebounds Per Game

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    Here are the top 5 rebounding years for the two players:

    8.0  Jordan

    6.9  Jordan, Kobe (tie)

    6.7  Jordan

    6.6  Jordan

    Again, Jordan has the better stats.

    Fair comparison?  Both players played with elite rebounders (Rodman, Shaq). 

    How about in the playoffs?  Who had the higher average?

    Jordan 6.4

Assists Per Game

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    Who dished out assists at a higher rate?  Here are the top 5 season averages:

    8.0  Jordan

    6.3  Jordan

    6.1  Jordan

    6.0  Kobe

    5.9  Jordan, Kobe (tie)

    Jordan again comes out on top.  Fair comparison?  Absolutely.  In fact, one might have expected that Kobe's averages would have been higher in the Shaq years.  Jordan never had a 30+ ppg. center to dish the ball to.

    Who has the higher playoff average?

    Jordan: 5.7

Steals and Blocks

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    It is difficult to use stats to establish who the better defender was.  That said, steals and blocks are quantifiable defensive stats.  So who had the better numbers?


    3.16  Jordan

    2.89  Jordan

    2.87  Jordan

    2.86  Jordan

    2.83  Jordan

    Playoffs:  Jordan 2.10


    1.60  Jordan

    1.52  Jordan

    1.17  Jordan

    1.01  Jordan

    .94  Jordan

    Playoffs:  Jordan .88

    Pretty clear winner here.

Three-Point FG Percentage

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    Here are the top 5 seasons (which may surprise you):

    .427  Jordan

    .383  Kobe

    .376  Jordan

    .375  Kobe

    .374  Jordan

    And the higher playoff average...?

    Kobe .337

    I'm giving Kobe the advantage here because he takes more 3 pointers, which would tend to result in a lower percentage.  I also accounted for the changes in the three point line.

Jordan By A Landslide

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    The numbers are clear. 

    Its Jordan, and its not even a contest.

    I know what the Kobe fans will say.

    "Stats aren't everything!" 

    Perhaps not, but they aren't NOTHING either.  When the numbers are this consistent, you can't help but consider that they are indicative of the correct answer. 

    "They played in different times!"

    True, but for every argument that can be made that the 90s was an "easier time," one can counter with the opposite hypothesis.

    "Jordan played with great players!"

    So did Kobe.

    "Kobe's not done yet."

    True, but, absent a trip to the Fountain of Youth, its hard to imagine that Kobe's best years are not behind him.

    Kobe Bryant is a great player.  He's one of the top 5 SGs of all time.  He's arguably one of the top 10-15 players of all time.

    But there's only one Number 1.

    That's MJ.

    You know it.

    I know it.

    The numbers prove it.


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