By: Rob Botts
With number 24 (formally number 8) of the Los Angeles Lakers recently passing number 23 (no reference needed) there are some people out there saying that Kobe Bryant might actually be the better basketball player. Alright, get near your closest water cooler or glass filled with water…. or step up on that soap box or any box that will elevate you slightly so that your opinion is viewed as better and more superior.
It’s time for a good old fashioned lesson. The lesson is needed because there are actually human beings walking around on this planet that believe that the Mamba bests the Swoosh as a baller because of the passing on the all time scoring list. A tremendous accomplishment and much respect to Bryant but….He is the better player? Silly. He is the second best shooting guard of all time. SECOND. But there are people out there (mostly the kids who didn’t see MJ play and die hard Laker fans) who really believe he is simply the best. Really? Alright kids, get on the bus… time to go to school….
The Black Mamba. One of, if not the deadliest snakes on planet earth. The Swoosh. One of, if not the deadliest sales symbols representing a billion dollar sports goliath retail company on planet earth. In any comparison, the facts are needed for any level headed, measured and educated choice to be made of who the better player is. Let’s take a peek shall we? Ok….
Championship Rings: Mr. Jordan 6 / Mr. Bryant 5
Points Per Game Average Career: Mr. Jordan 30 ppg / Mr. Bryant 25 ppg
NBA MVPs: Mr. Jordan 5 / Mr. Bryant 1
Finals MVPs: Mr. Jordan 6 / Mr. Bryant 2
Finals Appearances: Mr. Jordan 6 / Mr. Bryant 7
Seasons Played: Mr. Jordan 15 / Mr. Bryant 19
Scoring Titles: Mr. Jordan 10 / Mr. Bryant 2
Also, Mr. Jordan never lost an NBA Finals series, and not once did any of his series go to a seventh game. He went 6 for 6 with 6 MVPs. Did you read that kids? 6 FOR 6 WITH 6 MVPs. Again, Mr. Bryant’s accomplishment is very impressive but is more about his scoring ability, work ethic and longevity than about anything else. Every time he pulls up for that jumper..every time he does that up and under in the post for that duck in scoop..every time he dunks on the break..if you blink your eyes,who do you think you are watching? Heck..even the way he bends down to pull on his shorts when tired, to the way he would speak after games..It’s MJ! Or something that is REALLY CLOSE to MJ…If there was no MJ for Kobe to covet and study, would his game have looked as it has looked? Kobe is without a doubt the closest thing we have ever seen to the swoosh and probably ever will. That is incredibly impressive just on that alone but remember…the closest thing still ain’t the thing kids.
Passing MJ in anything is a nice milestone and should be celebrated because he IS the best ever. Did you hear that kids? The best ever…It’s as factual as saying heat is hot and ice is cold. It just is. Yes, Kobe passed MJ for third on the all-time NBA scoring list but here are some factual reasons why as well…Kobe to this point, has played four more seasons than Michael and has taken and made way more three pointers as well. Michael didn’t take many threes until later in his career and he also had left the game for 2 years in the middle of his prime. Kobe has played many more playoff games than Jordan yet MJ has scored more points in the post season.
Then there is “Krazy Kobe” we need to address who has reared his whacky head every once in a while without explanation over the years. Remember when he showed up in Phoenix for game 7 on the road when he had been encouraged by the Zen master himself to get his teammates more involved? Mr. Bryant reacted in the maturest of ways by passing the ball almost anytime his mitts were on it. A game of hot Spaulding ensued that ended up just killing the Lakers in that game and they were eliminate from the playoffs…Could you ever picture Michael EVER doing that? Then there was game 6 of the NBA Finals in Boston(’08) where the Celtics blew the Lakers off their home court and won the title. Kobe seemed irritated, off his game, frustrated and couldn’t will his team to even a respectable loss to the men in green. Then there was 2010 NBA Finals, game 7 against the hated dudes from Boston again where he almost shot his own team into the loss column…6 for 24 in the biggest game of the year for both teams.
Now, Let’s get into the actual skill section of our lesson for the kids…Here is a breakdown:
Ball handling: MJ with the slightest of edges. Bigger hands, more control..
Shooting: Pure shooting would go to Kobe Bryant. Actually making the shots would go to MJ….Michael became a better shooter and honestly by the end of his career, could shoot better than Kobe can now. Sorry kids…..#truth
Rebounding: MJ..stronger and quicker to the ball
Defense: MJ..better on the ball and was a killer in help defense situations..Just ask Karl Malone(#2 all-time in scoring by the way)
Passing: MJ and it’s not close
Dunking: MJ and it’s not close
Congrats to the Mamba for a tremendous accomplishment and as I mentioned before, passing Michael Jordan in anything is “most impressive” as a certain helmeted Sith Lord once said from a galaxy far, far away. But here is the thing…Many of you kids have regarded the passing of MJ recently on the all-time scoring list as PASSING MJ. If that is the case that passing MJ is actually PASSING MJ(stay with me), then there are actually 3 total players now that are better than the swoosh..Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Karl Malone and now Kobe Bryant by that crazy criteria.
Lesson over kids and thanks for actually showing up. Any of you who still believe the slither is superior to the swoosh, please pick up your straight jacket and ticket to a nice padded room on your way out and for those of you who have seen the light, grab a free pair Hanes undies and a Gatorade…..Class dismissed!(always wanted to write / say that)