Who’s better? Kobe or Jordan?
If tabs were kept on topics of discussion around watercoolers, Kobe vs Jordan would be one of the most common points of debate. That debate can start anywhere, anytime. Bump a random person on the street, look at their Air Jordans and shake you head with disdain and claim “Old news man. KB24 for life!” plucking at your new Kobe jersey. And the two men bond for life/end up in a catfight. Anywhere. That debate can start anywhere. The comments section of a video on Youtube, of a cat eating a cheeseburger, even that can devolve into a flame war between Team Kobe and Team Jordan.”Six rings! Talk to the hand! Oh wait, his rings don’t fit on one hand. We’ll talk about who is a better player after your man Kobe wins six rings.”"81 point game. Has Jordan pulled that off?”
“Kobe had Shaq.”
“Jordan had Pippen.”
“Kobe had Gasol.”
“Jordan had Rodman.”
And so on and so forth. After both sides have exhausted their coherent points, the argument further devolves into derogatory territory of accusations about the each other’s family tree, etc.
To me the comparison between Jordan and Kobe seems baseless. Since both players played in different eras. The quality of opposition was different. These days every year we see athletes get more and more explosive. Back in Jordan’s time the level of athleticism across the league was lower. But the standard of defense was a lot higher. Hand check rules were implemented after Jordan’s time. You can’t really compare the two unless they both played in the same time.
A more fitting comparison, will be between Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. Both have played in the same era, relatively compared to Kobe and Jordan. So let’s begin. First of all let’s get the rings out of the way.
Using championships to compare players doesn’t make too much sense. Because winning a ring depends on the your team as much as it does on you. Anyway, delving into the championship issue. Kobe has five rings. LeBron has one. Kobe had Shaq and Gasol. LeBron had noone of that caliber in his earlier playoff fights. But he won his with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
It can be argued that LeBron choked and let championships slip away from him, but so did Kobe against the Suns once upon a time when he suddenly decided to just become a passive spectator.
Championships left aside for a moment, I’m looking to draw a comparison between the two player’s style of play. Numbers and statistics can be compared and analyzed forever.
Anyway, LeBron beats Kobe hands down in numbers:
Let’s look at the two players as we see them play:
You see Kobe bring the ball upcourt, what do you suppose he intends to do? He has that look in his eye and that scowl which says, “Come at me. I dare you.” He’s looking to score. That’s not to say Kobe doesn’t pass. Although the numerous memes and cartoons everywhere would have you believe otherwise. Yeah Kobe passes, but LeBron passes a lot more.
Kobe’s name is synonymous with clutch, but numbers show that he has hurt his team a lot more in clutch than he has helped them. The number of jokes about LeBron choking in the fourth quarter are only eclipsed by jokes about Kobe not passing the ball. Although those jokes have been laid to rest this season, LeBron still hasn’t earned the reputation of Kobe in the clutch.
If I had the choice of putting the ball in the hands of either of those players with the game on the line, I’d choose LeBron over Kobe if LeBron had teammates who could knock down a jumper. In clutch situations, the thing to do is to take the best shot. Both of those players can score at will on their man. But LeBron is more willing to make the right play, if he’s being double teamed, if he sees a play developing which could lead to a teammate getting a better shot he will put his ego aside and make the right play.
Kobe goes into “Me against the world” mentality and doesn’t let up. He overlooks that it’s a ‘we against the world’ situation with his teammates, and he’s not alone against the opponent. It is so much easier to take a shot and live with the consequences than it is to be the man and pass up a chance at glory when your teammate may be in a better position to score. Imagine living with the scorn which LeBron faced while all he was doing was making the right play.
Fans love to cheer for superstars. We want to see a heroic narrative. Watching the man dish it off to a sidekick doesn’t make for the story we want. Selective amnesia is often applied to Kobe Bryant in the clutch, we view his performances through a filter which lets the misses pass through and retains the shots he makes. Having Gasol and Bynum in your front court should give you plenty of reasons to try and work the ball inside. But Kobe goes into hero mode. LeBron makes the right play.
Kobe is a better shooter than LeBron. But LeBron is taller and more athletic, so he can get off better shots. Hence LeBron’s shooting percentage is higher than Kobe’s. Kobe still shoots better from a distance and from the free throw line though.
Kobe has an arsenal of polished post moves. His footwork is among the best in the league an he can finish with either hand a lot better than LeBron can. Post game is about size as much as skill. LeBron is a bulldozer with polished moves, although fewer in number when compared to Kobe, his effectiveness when he gets the ball and posts up is scary good.
No question here. Kobe is a more effective leader. His tunnel vision focus leaves little room for anyone on his squad to loosen up. LeBron has been berated for his pre game antics, although he has since dispensesd with most of what critics are used to throwing at him. As a leader, Kobe Bryant is seen as the paramount alpha dog and he inspires his teammates to live up to or die at the high expectations he places on them.
Here’s the thing, while Kobe is also willing to make the pass to an open man for a jumper, LeBron also looks to make the extra pass. Where the pass may not lead to a direct score, but it may lead to another pass which in turn results in a bucket. LeBron James wins this one hands down. Even his staunchest critics will give him that.
Even Kobe’s teammates will give LeBron that.
LeBron James is a wrecking ball, a human Juggernaut in transition. He just steamrolls his way through with, to quote Marc Jackson, “No regard to human life.” Kobe’s fast break game is nothing to frown at either, but LeBron takes the cake here.
Kobe is a pretty good lockdown defender. And has been on multiple all star teams.
But LeBron is much more athletic and his chasedown blocks give players on fast breaks nightmares.
Ultimately, LeBron James is a better basketball player than Kobe Bryant. But there’s one category of which Kobe remains the king of, and it’s mainly because of that why he is seen as a better player than LeBron.
Swagger. Ice cold, take no prisoners, no holds barred, psychotic obsession with perfection and winning.
Even though LeBron James may be a better baller, Kobe Bryant just spanked him in the video above, literally. Until LeBron sheds everything and becomes as single minded as Kobe is about winning, and James is very close to that mindset right now, but until then we can holler all we want that James is a better baller. But popular opinion will probably side with Kobe Bryant.
Let’s just have respect for both: