The 2012 NBA Playoffs are underway and I’ve been reading a lot of underlying stories that could take place given certain circumstances. Will LeBron finally get his first elusive ring? Will Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich upgrade their legacy by grabbing their 5th title together? Can the Bulls win without former MVP Derrick Rose? Can Kobe get his 6th Ring and finally catch up to Michael Jordan? That last one is the one that bugs me the most and has been for several years now. There is no question Kobe Bryant wants to be compared to Jordan, if not surpass him when it comes to their ring collection. Does Kobe winning a 6th ring make it fair to evaluate Kobe on an even playing field with Jordan? Does 6 rings for both men mean they are equal superstars? Is Kobe really being compared to being the next Jordan? I mean all rings aside the two aren’t even in the same league. I’ve heard it all too. Kobe had developed a better jumper earlier in his career than Jordan did. Kobe this and Kobe that. I’m not saying everybody actually believes Kobe could be considered an equal or even better than Jordan, but the media seems to like to compare the two when really there is no comparison at all. The only thing Kobe has over Jordan is the number on his jersey.
First lets compare their stat lines per game:
Michael Jordan: 30.1ppg 6.2rpg 5.3apg 2.4spg 0.8bpg .497FG% .835 FT% .327 3P%
Kobe Bryant: 25.4ppg 5.3rpg 4.7apg 1.5spg 0.5bpg .453FG% .838FT% .337 3P%
Jordan scored more points, more rebounds, more assists, more steals, and more blocks per game than Kobe. Jordan also shot a higher field goal percentage. Their Free Throw percentage is basically the same and Kobe has a slight edge on his 3 point percentage than Jordan. The way people say Kobe is a much better 3 point shooter than Jordan made me believe the percentage was at a great disparity when in fact it is not. Kobe has made almost a thousand more 3 point shots than Jordan has, but that wasn’t Jordan’s game and he didn’t shoot much less efficient than Kobe. I’ve previously said Kobe’s numbers are more comparable with Dwayne Wade’s but that’s up for another discussion.
Kobe is blessed with playing in a league where it is nowhere near as physical a game as it was when Jordan played. The NBA is catered to offense because fans rather see an offensive game than a low scoring defensive struggle. It’s like that in baseball, hence the American League adopting the DH. It’s like that in Football which is why we saw 3 QB’s eclipse the 5,000 yard passing mark this year while only seeing twice before that. Kobe still averages less points per game. Kobe has only scored over 30ppg twice in his career while Jordan has done it 8 times. Kobe is a prolific scorer but has only won the scoring title twice while coming very close to grabbing his third this year. Jordan won the scoring title 10 times. Kobe has one MVP award. He probably deserved maybe a few more, but never got it. Jordan won MVP 5 times second to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 6. Jordan probably deserved it every year from 1987-1998.
Jordan won rookie of the year and a defensive player of the year award. Kobe was on the bench his rookie season and is never even mentioned in the conversation for top defender honors. Kobe came straight out of high school, but that’s no excuse for him to start his career on the bench. I’m sure he could of went to any college in the country to play, but he declined and headed straight for the NBA. Jordan spent three years at the University of North Carolina and won a National title. Some will argue and I agree that going to college prepares a player’s body and mind for the NBA. Kobe has already been playing a whole season longer than Jordan. There is no doubt that the both are Hall of Famers, as Jordan was inducted in 2009.
I don’t really like the rings comparison for players to determine how great they were, but it’s a hot topic so I need to have some input. Jordan won 6 NBA Championships along with 6 Finals MVP trophies. He was the best player on the best team every time they played in the Finals. Kobe has won 5 NBA Championships so far, with 2 Finals MVP trophies. He was not the best player on his team when they won the first 3 championships. There was one of the most dominating centers in the history of the NBA named Shaquille O’Neal on his team and the recipient of 3 Finals MVP awards. If it wasn’t for Shaq would Kobe have those 3 rings? If it wasn’t for Kobe would Shaq have gotten those 3 with the Lakers? Who knows and it’s hard to tell. It’s hard to say that someone is as great as the greatest player in most people’s opinions when the one who wants to be compared had a player who out shined him. Didn’t Shaq leave LA because Kobe wanted to shine? If were talking about rings then isn’t Robert Horry better than both of them? Didn’t think so.
My main argument for why Kobe will never be Jordan is that Jordan never lost in the Finals. Kobe has lost twice in the Finals. The 04 Pistons and the 08 Celtics beat the Kobe led Lakers. In essence Kobe has had more opportunities than Jordan to win more rings. And had Jordan not taken two years off to play baseball I’m almost positive that Jordan would have led the Bulls to two more Championships. It’s hard to argue otherwise. Most great players in that era didn’t get to win a ring because of Jordan. Those two years off had NBA greats salivating at the opportunity. Hakeem Olajuwon and the Hawks were the one’s who capitalized on that short window. Jordan doesn’t lose when it matters most. Jordan won a NBA title with the flu. Kobe is always hurt, but I’m almost convinced it’s for effect because he still will come out and drop 37 without a grimace on his face unless he misses.
Jordan is the greatest of all time. So great that Pat Riley of the Miami Heat retired Michael Jordan’s jersey. His legacy was so great that he believes nobody on the Heat deserve to wear that number. No LeBron didn’t just change his number he had too, and the whole change of scenery remark he made. Kobe changed his number from 8 to 24 to prove he is one better than Jordan. Like I said before that’s the only thing he has on him.