Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant are two of the greatest players in the NBA history. Both of them played in different eras and ruled them. Playing at the same shooting guard position, Bryant was the closest to Jordan the game has seen since MJ retired in 2003.
Two players so similar in style that it is almost impossible to say that one is better than the other. They were considered as undisputed stars for their respective teams and won a ton of team and individual awards. It could be said that 'The Black Mamba' was the mirror image of 'His Airness'. But when it comes to the stats, let's find out who was the best.
#1 Biographical details
Born 17th February 17, 1963, Michael Jeffrey Jordan is considered as the greatest basketball player of all time. He was the 3rd overall pick in the 1984 NBA Draft. Jordan played 15 seasons in the National Basketball Association for the Chicago Bulls (1984-1993, 1995-1998) and Washington Wizards (2001-2003).
Jordan was considered instrumental in popularizing the NBA around the world and is also one of the most effectively marketed athletes. His biography on the official NBA website states: "By acclamation, Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time." (no arguments there)
Kobe Bean Bryant, born August 23, 1978, joined the NBA straight after graduating high school. He was the 13th draft pick by the Charlotte Hornets in 1996, and was then immediately traded to the Lakers and played his entire 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers (1996-2016) and is widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time. He holds the NBA record for the most seasons playing with one franchise for an entire career
Both Kobe and Jordan have a similar build, playing position and style of play.
#2 Regular season performance stats
Jordan at his best was an unstoppable force and destroyed any team with his offensive skills, Kobe too was the same. But when it comes to defending Jordan was as good as he was in attack. In terms of performance in the NBA regular season, Jordan edges past Kobe by a mile in every area of the play.
MJ holds the lead in points, steals, assists, rebounds and blocks as well. Michael Jordan is the all-time leader in points per game in the regular season, a record which won't be broken easily. Scoring was fun for Jordan and also he won the NBA scoring title a whopping ten times, more than anyone else in the NBA.
Both Kobe and MJ are well-rounded players, also contribute to the offense as well as the defense of the team and are lauded for their work ethic and competitiveness.
#3 Playoffs performance stats
Michael Jordan holds the record for the highest career playoff scoring average, 33.45 points per game. He was an absolute beast in the playoffs and gave his phenomenal best. MJ's stats in the playoffs are even better than his regular season. It is not easy to perform at this level against the top teams, but Jordan proved his worth and always came out on top.
Jordan's incredible performance in the NBA Playoffs made the Chicago Bulls complete the three-peat not once but twice with him on the team. Kobe was also instrumental in the Lakers three-peat but not as much as Air Jordan with the Bulls.
Kobe also played better than his regular season and gave his best for the Lakers in the playoffs and always led them to the top. Although his stats are impressive but still they are not as good as Jordan, who again edges past Kobe in the Playoffs stats.
#4 Total performance stats
Best of NBA
Both Jordan and Kobe had long and successful careers, scoring tons of points, giving assists, getting rebounds, blocks and steals. Whenever they were present on the court, the opposition teams were feared of their incredible attacking form as well as their defensive rigidity.
While Jordan played for only 15 seasons in the NBA, Kobe played for straight 20 seasons, giving him lead in the total stats. Jordan's best came for the Chicago Bulls and Kobe was the face of The Los Angeles Lakers for 20 years before retiring in 2016. One can make an argument about Jordan not retiring and playing with the Bulls and he would have even better stats, but for now, these are the total stats.
Jordan played fewer games but still holds a great lead in the defending aspects of the game like steals and blocks. Both of these players have played more than 1000 games and scored well over 30,000 points.
#5 Shooting percentages
Michael Jordan is considered as one of the most dangerous shooters of all time and the same could be said about Kobe. Both of these players have great shooting percentages, in the regular season their percentages are very similar with MJ having the upper hand in field goals and Kobe was better in three-pointers as well as free throws.
The Dagger was known for creating his own shots and is a competent three-point shooter. Kobe has great shooting percentage when considering that he has played for 20 seasons straight.
In the playoffs, however, Jordan was slightly better than Kobe in field goals, three-pointers and free throw percentages as well. The G.O.A.T always gave his best in the playoff series. At the crucial moments, Jordan never missed and improved his overall performance, carrying the team on his back and always led them to victory.
#6 Honours and awards
When it comes to individual honors and awards, no one comes close to these two players. Kobe and Jordan have won every award there is to win, whether it be the MVP, Finals MVP, scoring titles and All-NBA Team selections and many more. They have won it all. A lot of players play in the NBA and only few can win these awards and winning all of them is nearly impossible for a player, but these two are unique.
Jordan edges past Kobe again as he has won all the above-mentioned titles (even more times than The Black Mamba) and also added some individual awards which Kobe never won, like the Defensive Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year and Steals leader as well.(Not to mention he has won 4 more regular season MVP awards and 8 more scoring titles)
#7 NBA Championships and seasons
Out of 15 regular seasons, His Airness has played 14 All-Star games whereas Kobe played 18 All-Star games out of 20 seasons, which is incredible. When it comes to NBA Championships, Jordan and Kobe have won it 6 times(1991–1993, 1996–1998) and 5 times(2000-2002, 2009-2010) respectively, something which many players dream of.
Michael Jordan was also selected as Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year in 1991. He was added to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2009.
In 2007, an ESPN poll voted Kobe the second best shooting guard in NBA history, behind Michael Jordan.
One can argue that Michael Jordan has a better statistical record than Kobe but no one can deny that both of these players have changed the game and were the face of NBA during their prime. Kobe seems to follow Jordan in every aspect of the game and it looks like he will be added to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame soon.