The Hoop Doctors love Michael Jordan. That’s got to be pretty obvious to everyone by now. So in honor of Michael, and to discourage the media from pretending to be clairvoyant in the future when it comes to comparing young ballers to the greatest to ever play, every week I will be shining a little light on each of the media’s shortcomings when it has come to these ridiculous and presumptuous predictions.
These posts are not intended to disrespect any of the players compared to Jordan in any way. They all had excellent careers and were or are tremendous basketball players. It is not your fault someone with very little knowledge of the game or even the skill to play this game decided to call you the “Next Jordan”. Part VIII to my series called “The Nextology of Michael Jordan” will be looking at Kobe “Black Mamba” Bryant:
But to take a good look at how different their careers were, I think you always have to start off by taking a birds eye view of the comparison by checking out their individual career stats. Here is the statistical comparison below in this chart:
From the feedback we have received thus far on this series it seems everyone reading is anxiously awaiting our final installment, the comparison to Kobe Bryant. We can make this as simple or as complicated as we want. The simple question is ‘who would win in a game of one-on-one between Michael and Kobe? Curiously, this exact question was asked recently of Jordan at a development camp he runs. This link has his answer…..I tend not to argue with the greatest ever, so i’ll take that as fact. Let’s move on to the more complicated version then, shall we?
When looking at the on-court statistical comparison between the two, it is quite simply not even a contest. Quite a few Kobe fans (many of which were not old enough to watch and appreciate Jordan in his prime), will try and tell you that the statistics are an unfair comparison since Kobe came into the NBA straight out of high school and in his first couple of years did not receive the same playing time as Michael did. While I will grant them that fact, it must be duly noted that Kobe has been in the league for 13 years now, and has only had 3 seasons where he averaged over 30 points per game. Jordan on the other hand had 8 of his first 13 seasons averaging over 30 points per game. Let’s forget point scoring for a minute though, because regardless of how it plays out, Michael and Kobe are both prolific scorers. Kobe has proven that fact by scoring 81 points in one contest against the Toronto Raptors in January of 2006. In that same season of 2005-06 Kobe also put up huge scoring numbers of 35.4 ppg on the year, which was quite close close to Jordan’s phenomenal 37.1 ppg in 1986-87.
So where else is Kobe trailing Michael statistically? A lot of fans would probably key in on the fact that Michael Jordan was a better passer and outperformed Kobe quite a bit in the assists column, or they might notice that Jordan had a better field goal percentage therefore saying he was a better scorer. But where I would like to focus is on the defensive end. Kobe is a great defender, and he proved as much the last two summer’s playing for Team USA often taking it upon himself to shut down the opposing countries biggest scorers. But has it translated for Kobe to his defensive play in the NBA? We all know Michael Jordan was a 9 time NBA All-defensive First Team selection and in 1988 was voted in as Defensive Player of the Year, and for good reason. Kobe has great numbers defensively, but if you look at how Kobe trails Michael significantly in defensive rebounding, steals, and blocks you start to get a flavor for the intensity Jordan brought to both ends of the floor. Kobe is a good defender, but he definitely is a much better offensive player, and on some nights leaves nothing to be desired on the defensive end. Michael Jordan was probably one of the most offensively and defensively balanced players to ever play the game. He rarely, if ever, took a night of defensively.
One of The Hoop Doctors readers last week when we did the Dwyane Wade comparison was kind enough to point out that of all the players compared to Jordan in this series, Dwayne Wade was the only player who has won an NBA Finals MVP Award. I would like to point out that Jordan has 6 of them, but regardless the point was well taken. Performing on the NBA’s greatest stage, the NBA Finals, and winning an award recognizing your achievement towards your contribution to your team’s success is the ultimate praise given out by the league. So to be clear, Kobe Bryant has three NBA Championships but due to the fact he played alongside the Diesel, Shaquille O’Neal, he doesn’t have any NBA Finals MVP awards as Shaq back then was clearly the dominant force driving the Lakers success. Kobe does however have a long list of awards and achievements during his career worth noting. Here is a comparison of the two player’s accolades:
|Rookie of Year
|All-NBA First Team
|Slam Dunk Title
I realize that Kobe’s career is far from over, but after 13 seasons in the league I think the above table of awards, really speaks for itself when you are looking to compare Kobe Bryant to Michael Jordan. Kobe is a great player with many accolades, however Michael Jordan is in a whole other universe, as the greatest player to ever play this game.
Lately there has been a lot of talk about how Kobe Bryant is the only player in the game today that has the same level of fierce competitiveness that Michael Jordan had. You know that feeling you got watching Michael play that told you he hated to lose more than anything in the world, and would do whatever it took to make sure he was a winner. Although Kobe early in his career was often labeled as selfish and only concerned with his own personal glory, over the years he has taken some huge strides towards involving teammates, and putting the team winning games before his own personal success. But regardless of how fierce a competitor Kobe is, I can’t help but think about how he ran Phil Jackson and Shaquille O’Neal out of LA a few years ago. At the time Phil was still the best Coach in the league, and Shaq was still the most dominant center and arguably the most dominant player in the league. When you really get down to comparing Kobe’s competitive edge with that of Michael Jordan you have to wonder, would MJ have ever turned away Phil Jackson and Shaquille O’Neal, regardless of his off-the-court relationships with the two? I highly doubt it. Michael loved to win too much.
The other comparison I often hear with Kobe Bryant in the last two seasons since L.A.’s rejuvenation, is that Kobe makes his team better like Michael Jordan. As far as intangibles go, I think this is a ridiculous statement. Michael Jordan in his prime was a leader that players wanted to follow. He was a guy that lead by example and his teammates followed. He was a player that did make everyone around him better, regardless of the quality of his supporting cast. When Michael did have a good supporting cast they set the record for most wins by any team ever in an NBA season at 72 wins. Kobe on the other hand is more often than not criticized by teammates after they leave LA about being a tough teammate to play with, both on and off the court. People often neglect the fact that when crunching the numbers throughout Kobe’s career the Lakers lowest winning percentages have come when Kobe averages more than 30 points a game.
So that is it for the series “The Nextology of Michael Jordan”……for now…..Why? Because the media has proven one thing over the years…although I cringe at the thought of another player being compared to Michael Jordan in the future by the media, it is bound to happen. I just hope to hell they at least wait until his career is over and done with before they pull out their lab coats and start dissecting his performances.
Tell us your thoughts below on Kobe Bryant being called ‘The Next Jordan’…..Thanks for tuning in….
Links to Other ‘Nextology’ Posts:
- Part I – Jerry Stackhouse
- Part II – Grant Hill
- Part III – Anfernee ‘Penny’ Hardaway
- Part IV – Harold Minor
- Part V – Vince Carter
- Part VI – Tracy McGrady
- Part VII – Dwyane Wade
- Part VIII – Kobe Bryant