Kobe better than Jordan?

michael-jordan-kobe-bryantMike Wise says that it’s no longer “heresy” to ask who’s the greatest NBA player of all time, Kobe or Michael? He summarizes arguments for both sides of the debate and shows that Bryant is poised to surpass Jordan in the relevant statistical categories. But then he concludes with this:

“The unfortunate truth for Kobe is he can never be Michael because he isn’t thought of as likable as Jordan, also the greatest commercial pitchman ever for an athlete. Even if he tied or surpassed Jordan in championships and postseason magical moments, Bryant’s public missteps — the prideful ego war with Shaquille O’Neal early in his career, the sexual assault charge eventually dropped in Colorado and his desire to leave the Lakers only a few years ago — will always be held against him. . .

“Purely based on his professional persona, I think Kobe gets shortchanged on the image issue. See, Michael was as cutthroat and undiplomatic and nasty as a champion ever was. By the time he put on the suit and tie, though, he was a much better actor. With his megawatt smile and disarming wink, he could conceal the shadow side of him in ways Kobe never really cared if he concealed.”

For me, Jordon’s Hall of Fame speech leveled the playing field on the likeability factor. Jordon’s image was shattered by that speech. For that reason, if Kobe surpasses Jordan in the relevant stats, the honorary title of best NBA player ever can be Kobe’s. Read the rest here.


  • Scott

    No. Not even remotely close. Jordan was a better passer, rebounder, a far better defender, an a better scorer. Jordan also won a national title in college & was a college player of the year. He would have seven-eight rings had he not toyed with the Birmingham Barons for a year.

  • danny

    Um… I’m not sure Kobe is even the best player of his generation. Tim Duncan, anyone? The thought that he’s better than Jordan is ridiculous (that goes for Scot McKnight’s claim that he’s better that Magic Johnson, for that matter).

  • D.J. Williams

    Kobe may get his fifth ring this year, but MJ still had six – and once he won his first one, he won the title in every full season in which he played until the end of his Chicago career. Kobe got three of his as the second-best player on his team.

  • Alex Chediak


    I grew up in Chicago with the Bulls. I agree with your assessment: Jordan was a good actor, but he was just as cutthroat as anyone. He also never realized his potential for being a role model to young boys/men – he seemed to despise that role, not realizing it was his whether he wanted it or not. And his Hall of Fame speech showed the depths of his narcissism.

    I think Kobe should work diligently on his character, and his image would improve. Career stat wise, another reason he might surpass Jordan is that Jordan quit to pursue baseball for a while, and it took a few years for him to get his game fully back.

  • Scott

    Good point John. There’s no way this Laker team would beat the Bad Boy Pisons (Isaiah, Dumars,Rodman, Johnson). I’m not sure they would be able to beat back the Knicks of Jordan’s day. They certainly would have struggled with both the Jazz Blazers (Drexler & crew).

    As someone mentioned, Kobe won several rings as a second option behind Shaq.

  • Myles

    Jordan was so good, he got tired of basketball and tried another sport. There’s littlenreason to believe he wouldn’t have won the 3 titles he missed while away.

  • Ryan K.

    This is not even up for debate. Jordan is, and always will be better than Kobe.

    Jordan one six championships as the best, most important player on his team. Kobe one three of his championships as second fiddle to Kobe.

    Jordan never lost a Finals and one the MVP everytime he was in it, the same cannot be said for Kobe.

    And the biggest thing that separates them is desire to win. Jordan not only won every Finals he was in but often willed his team to win when it looked bleak. Kobe on the other hand quit in 2008 when he ran into a talented and tough Celtics team.

    Lets end this debate because it is absurd.

  • mike

    this idea is just silly. Jordan could defensively lock up an guard or small forward in the league! Kobe gets caught out of position all the time on defense.

    offensively, they’re more comparable, except Jordan was a better passer and cleaned up the offensive boards better.

    i think Jordan’s defense makes him better than Kobe, no contest. like someone else mentioned, Kobe probably isn’t the best player of his own generation. to me that’s Tim Duncan, hands down.

  • Nate

    Kobe is no Jordan, however the notion that Kobe needed Shaq is ridiculous. Shag never won in Orlando with Penny Hardaway, won with Kobe, and then only won in Miami due to Wade. I think there is an argument to be made to compare Kobe with Duncan – those two are clearly the best of this last generation.

    Maybe we should also have a conversation about gifted athletes (Shaq) who don’t work hard and waste their abilities. At least Kobe works hard.

  • Jared

    No, but I do think he’s better than LeBron. Kobe has been finishing, and he has a will and desire that seems to far surpass where LeBron is. IMO

  • john

    Read an article today by Reily. He used the following description for a player that hasn’t been mentioned…anyone know who this is?
    “The NBA’s all-time leading scorer, winner of six rings, six MVPs, 19 All-Star berths and, oh yeah, the greatest college player ever?”

  • Nate

    Kareem? But I didn’t think he won six rings. Also, an argument could easily be made that Bill Walton was the greatest college player ever. He went undefeated as a collegiate.

  • Jason

    ‘d like to put an asterisk next to Larry Bird’s name as the best player before the carry and 4 or 5 steps were allowed.

  • Tim Webb

    Wilt Chamberlain buries both of them in statistical categories, except for championships (I think he only won one). Statistically, Wilt is #1 and there is no #2.

  • Brent Hobbs

    Statistical categories aside, Jordan made the NBA worth watching, in my opinion. Many other players can score points and win games, but nobody else has been able to keep my attention – compelled me to follow a sport – the way Jordan did.

    Maybe that says more about me than it does him, but I think a lot of people are like me and just lost interest in the NBA in the post-Jordan era.

  • daddyrich4040

    ncaa champion nasmith player of the year 2 time olympic gold meadlist nba rookie of the year 63 point playoff performance (nba record) 10 straight scoring titles 3 steals titles,defensive player of the year, 5 time reg season mvp,6 time nba champion 6 tim

  • daddyrich4040

    6 time finals mvp 30.1 carrer ppg avg 33ppg carrer playoff avg both nba best countless game winners in reg season and post season most point scored in a half 35 in playoffs 40.1 ppg nba finals record 9 time all defensive team selection 6 consecutive defen

  • daddyrich4040

    defensive 1st team selection tied with gary payton has never lost in nba finals 3rd all time leading scorer in nba history and all done in his 13years with the bulls not to mention his records with washington this is kobes 15th year and hes not even close

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