Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Kobe vs. Jordan: A Complete Comparison of Two NBA Greats


The Black Mamba and Air Jordan. This comparison is one that will be made for years to come because of a multitude of reasons, namely the fact that these premiere NBA scorers are the two greatest shooting guards of all time. And while the argument that Jordan revolutionized the sport is valid, I will remove that consideration and take a closer look at Kobe and Jordan’s respective statistics (regular season and playoffs), awards (including championship titles), and clutch performing—which these two guys are generally considered some of the best ever.

This column seeks to provide a complete comparison of these NBA greats and show you who ultimately is both the better and the greater player. And as I always like to turn to first, let’s have a look at the regular season statistics of Kobe and Jordan:

Per game statistics
Kobe Bryant
Michael Jordan
Points
25.4
30.1
Rebounds
5.3
6.2
Assists
4.7
5.3
Steals
1.5
2.3
FG percentage
.453
.497
3PT percentage
.337
.327
Minutes
36.5
38.3
PER
23.5
27.9
eFG percentage
.487
.509
Note: All stats for Bryant are as of 11/20/12

Really there’s not much to debate here, Jordan is clearly the better regular season performer. The only statistic that Kobe has an edge in is three-point percentage, and that advantage is by a whole one percentage point. Truthfully, Kobe’s first three years did set him behind a bit, but even if you eliminate those years from consideration, he still has less points (27.8) and fewer assists (5.1) while most other categories remain relatively constant.

Kobe is known primarily for being a scorer and not only did Jordan score more than Kobe does, but Jordan also shot a significantly higher percentage—hence the large disparity in PER.

Now, how about playoff statistics?

Playoff per game statistics
Kobe Bryant
Michael Jordan
Points
25.6
33.4
Rebounds
5.1
6.4
Assists
4.7
5.7
Steals
1.4
2.1
FG percentage
.448
.487
3PT percentage
.331
.332
Minutes
39.3
41.8
PER
22.4
28.6
eFG percentage
.480
.503
Games played
220
179

Same story—only this time Jordan owns the better numbers in every single category. Something else worth noting is the relative improvement/decline of each players’ numbers from regular season to playoffs. Kobe’s stats remain relatively constant, with an insignificant increase in points as well as small increases in rebounds, assists, and minutes per game. However, his FG percentage, PER, and eFG percentage all decrease. And while comparing separate players PER may not be the greatest statistical measure, it is reasonable to look at an individual players increase/decrease in this number.

In utter contrast, Jordan’s points, rebounds, assists, and minutes per game all increase, as well as his three-point percentage. But he does have slight decreases in FG and eFG percentages as well as steals per game. But in the end, Jordan clearly has the better playoff numbers.

Of course, statistics do not tell the entire story and the major argument for Kobe Bryant as a great NBA player is his five championship titles. And while that may look favorably upon the Black Mamba in a comparison of Kobe and LeBron James, it does not do the same when comparing Kobe to Jordan.

Here is a chart of their respective playoff accolades and overall achievements/awards as of November 2012.

Kobe Bryant
Michael Jordan
5x NBA champion
6x NBA champion
2x NBA Finals MVP
6x NBA Finals MVP
1x MVP
5x MVP
14x All-Star
14x All-Star
N/A
NBA Defensive Player of the Year
N/A
NBA Rookie of the Year
2x scoring champ
10x scoring champ

This drives home the proof that there truly is not much of a competition in this comparison. Jordan has more titles, but more importantly he demolishes Kobe in Finals MVPs which is a much more telling tale of a great champion. Why? For three of Kobe’s championship titles he wasn’t even the best player on his team. Seriously, it’s like saying Derek Fisher’s five titles (all won as a teammate of Kobe Bryant) are equal to Kobe’s when comparing a player’s legacy.

That is as fallacious of a statement as saying that Kobe, as a champion, is on the same level as Jordan.

Now let’s address the other major points of this chart, the most important one being the MVP award disparity. One argument I want to address is the claim that Kobe should have won the MVP in 2006: this is erroneous because not only did Nash have a better season than Kobe, but so did LeBron James! In that year, LeBron had a statistically monstrous season and singlehandedly brought the Cavaliers into the playoffs, not to mention in his playoff debut he recorded a triple-double…

So, we stand firm at a measly one MVP award to a five-time MVP.

Then comes the Defensive Player of the Year award differential. Clearly, Jordan was a shut-down defender. And not only do I think that Kobe is an overrated defender, but so does his former coach, Phil Jackson. To quote the 11-time champion Zen Master on Kobe’s All-Defense First Team awards: “The voters have been seduced by his remarkable athleticism and spectacular steals, but he hasn’t played sound, fundamental defense.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

And what about those scoring titles? Kobe is supposed to be the greatest scorer in the league right? For one, two players, one of which has been in the league far shorter than Kobe, have more scoring titles than he does. Yup, Allen Iverson and Kevin Durant both reigned supreme as the NBA’s leading scorer three times each during Kobe’s career. So there could even be a debate if Kobe is the best scorer of his own generation!

Then there’s Michael Jordan. 10 scoring titles says it all—he netted baskets like nobody else, and is tied with Wilt Chamberlain for the all-time record of career points per game. Kobe isn’t even in the top 10.

If by now you still aren’t thoroughly convinced that Jordan is far superior to Kobe, there is one more thing to drive home that point: clutchness. This analysis comes in two forms: greatness during the playoffs and performance in the final 24 seconds of a game.

One’s performance in playoffs is “clutch” in the sense that it provides a glimpse into whether or not you can get it done in the games that matter most. Jordan’s six Finals MVPs to Kobe’s two only begin to tell the story. If you look at the greatest playoff performances of all time, Kobe has a grand total of zero in the top 10 compared to Jordan’s three which include the renowned “Flu Game,” as well as the 63 point game and the free throw jumper over Bryon Russell to seal the 1998 NBA Finals win for the Bulls. Not sold? Well, ESPN only gives Kobe one top-25 playoff performance all time (Jordan’s name appears eight times).

Is it any closer in terms of “last-second” shots?

Chasing 23 lists every single clutch shot of Jordan’s career, where clutch is defined as “shot attempts made with the intent to either win or tie the game within the final 24 seconds, during which a player’s team is either tied or trails by three or fewer points.” The final verdict Jordan is 9 of 18 in such situations—or an astounding 50 percent. How about Kobe? A similar study finds Kobe with an unimpressive 7 of 27, or 26 percent.

In other words, Jordan is about twice as good as Kobe in last-second shot situations.

Kobe is a great player and deserves to be on the same playing field as some of the greatest of all time, but the reality is that he is significantly inferior to Jordan. Stats, awards, clutch performing, it all points in the same direction: Kobe vs. Jordan may be a comparison, but it is not a very competitive one.

So, Kobe may believe that he has no rivals in the today’s game, but if he was playing in Jordan’s era, the great Air Jordan would express similar sentiments regarding Kobe.


If you liked this comparison, check out our series of comparisons that includes: Kobe vs. LeBron, LeBron vs. Jordan, and Kobe vs. Duncan.

92 comments:

  1. Kobe actually averages (regular season) 4.7 apg, and 5.3 rpg, not 4.2 and 5.0. I know it's not a big difference but 4.7 is much closer to Jordan's 5.3, which helps dispell the notion that Kobe is a selfish player while Jordan is not. Also, in his first three seasons, he averaged 1.3, 2.5, and 3.8 apg, respectively; that's a pretty big difference.
    http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/b/bryanko01.html#all_per_game

    Also, you put down that Jordan won Rookie of the Year, which Kobe didn't win because he played 15 minutes a game, while you don't put down first-team all-NBA appearances and first-team all-Defense appearances, where the race would be far more closer. I think that's far more relevant than a ROY award whose recepients have included Emeka Okafor and Steve Francis.

    I know you address the all-defense by discussing how you think he's overrated, while all-NBA's aren't even discussed, but it really should be mentioned how Kobe has been able to remain an elite player for so many years, and all-NBA appearances are a testament to that. Kobe is in his SEVENTEENTH season in the league, and he is averaging 27/5/5 on 53% shooting. I know the season isn't over and his FG% will probably trail off a bit, but that is remarkable. Try to find me another guard (or even a big man...) who averaged anything CLOSE to these numbers in their 17th season. I'll spare you the time - you won't find one. Even Reggie Miller, one of the most durable guards of all time, averaged 12ppg on 40% shooting in his 16th season; his 17th isn't even worth mentioning. MJ was also amazingly durable, but Kobe is setting an all-time standard by even being mentioned as a top 5/10 player in the league today.

    I felt that this article was just stating the obvious. In terms of stats, Jordan bests Kobe by a country mile. Now, I don't think Kobe is better than Jordan at all (except for possibly durability). BUT, I feel that there can certainly be a comparison made in terms of HOW they played.They were both phenomenal scorers who relied not only on athleticism, but on precise footwork and shot technique developed over hours and hours of practice almost daily. Here's a solid video on the subject: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v27Hk5OIe-k

    I'm sure you noticed the almost creepy similarity. Now, some like to say that Kobe simply "copied" Jordan, and isn't really his own player. That's quite funny, because I'm sure 95% of current basketball players, especially guards, considered Jordan their idol, including Tmac, AI, Carter, and more. None of them have achieved the same level of success that Kobe has. Kobe has been able to be the defining player of the 2000s generation, not just in the US, but throughout the entire world, in spite of the rape accusation saga. Once again, he won't top Jordan in terms of how much he did for the NBA worldwide, but he is closer to Jordan in that regard than any other player since him or before him. Even though Lebron is clearly the best player in the NBA right now, whenever I speak with people from other countries (such as my roommate from Korea, family friends from Russia, etc), they usually don't recognize Lebron, but they know Kobe quite well. That's not a coincidence, and it's something that only Jordan can say has done better.



    I know Jordan is better than Kobe and it's pointless to compare the two in stats - it isnt close and won't be. But, if you compare them as PLAYERS, they are very similar to each other, and that is the primary reason why they are compared often.

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  2. First, thanks for keeping me honest there with Kobe's stats...for that one thing I happened to look at the per 36 minutes stats, not per game. Good call and it's fixed now.

    You're right, I didn't discuss All-NBA selections, mainly because I found them stating the obvious because we all know that both players are essentially (if not) the best of the generation therefore would land All-NBA awards nearly yearly. And while the mention of Kobe maintaining performance at the top of the game is completely accurate, the problem is that the same can be said of Jordan. Jordan came back from playing a completely different sport at age 38! And he still managed 20+ PPG at age 38 and 39... That's insane. If Kobe can do that, props, but 1) that remains to be seen and 2) he said he plans on retiring well before that age. Personally, I think that's well within Kobe's ability but I doubt he'll play that long (by choice).

    I'm not trying to take anything away from Kobe because the fact remains that he is still playing like a top player in the league (which I said he would in my Top NBA Players of 2013 article). But Jordan performed equally as impressive as his career waned (at 38 he averaged 23/6/5).

    As for the argument of "renowndness," I'm not sure comparing Kobe to LeBron is quite fair never mind relevant at this point. For one, LeBron still has many years ahead of him so to say that the international community knows Kobe better is pretty obvious because Kobe's been in the league longer. And personally, I expect that gap to close rapidly because of the insane increase in the online community and bloggers, etc. But more importantly, it isn't quite relevant to this column which compares Kobe to Jordan. In this regard, Jordan far surpasses Kobe because of what MJ did for the sport of basketball. I don't think it would be far-fetched to say that nobody can ever accomplish that same feat that Jordan did, which is why I rendered this topic irrelevant because it is unfair to Kobe simply because the inequality of opportunity.



    As for the comparison, I agree that they are compared because of similarities in playing style. Both are VERY good (and in Jordan's case the best) at what they do. But to compare Jordan to Kobe just ends poorly for Kobe.

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  3. First, thanks for keeping me honest there with Kobe's stats...for that one thing I happened to look at the per 36 minutes stats, not per game. Good call and it's fixed now.

    You're right, I didn't discuss All-NBA selections, mainly because I found them stating the obvious because we all know that both players are essentially (if not) the best of the generation therefore would land All-NBA awards nearly yearly. And while the mention of Kobe maintaining performance at the top of the game is completely accurate, the problem is that the same can be said of Jordan. Jordan came back from playing a completely different sport at age 38! And he still managed 20+ PPG at age 38 and 39... That's insane. If Kobe can do that, props, but 1) that remains to be seen and 2) he said he plans on retiring well before that age. Personally, I think that's well within Kobe's ability but I doubt he'll play that long (by choice).

    I'm not trying to take anything away from Kobe because the fact remains that he is still playing like a top player in the league (which I said he would in my Top NBA Players of 2013 article). But Jordan performed equally as impressive as his career waned (at 38 he averaged 23/6/5).

    As for the argument of "renowndness," I'm not sure comparing Kobe to LeBron is quite fair never mind relevant at this point. For one, LeBron still has many years ahead of him so to say that the international community knows Kobe better is pretty obvious because Kobe's been in the league longer. And personally, I expect that gap to close rapidly because of the insane increase in the online community and bloggers, etc. But more importantly, it isn't quite relevant to this column which compares Kobe to Jordan. In this regard, Jordan far surpasses Kobe because of what MJ did for the sport of basketball. I don't think it would be far-fetched to say that nobody can ever accomplish that same feat that Jordan did, which is why I rendered this topic irrelevant because it is unfair to Kobe simply because the inequality of opportunity.

    As for the comparison, I agree that they are compared because of similarities in playing style. Both are VERY good (and in Jordan's case the best) at what they do. But to compare Jordan to Kobe just ends poorly for Kobe.

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  4. No question it's Jordan. What's even more impressive is that MJ only had Scottie Pippen to depend upon while Kobe has been surrounded with plenty of stars throughout this career (Shaq, Gasol, Bynum, currently Nash AND Howard).
    They're both great players, but really there's no competition.

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    1. Jordan was the biggest, most athletic 2guard in the league over his entire career. Against (at that time) a mediocre Western Confernce. No OTHER team (again at that time) was built with NBA top rebounder (Rodman, Grant was not top but no slouch on boards) TOP 50 greatest to ever play teammate (Pippen), best defenders in entire NBA during this time (Rodman, Pippen, Jordan), best "just" 3point shooters in league (Kerr, Paxson, Hodges), 7-footers to CLOG THE LANE and hit the 12 footer (worthless other than that) and Phil (the best coach ever, who introduced a new system, the triangle, which won 5 more times in LA). Give me one team built like that back then. Their are ZERO. They were supposed to win. They should've dominated.

      After getting Phil, Jordan NEVER had a team full of nothing but BUMS... Before Kobe got Gasol and Phil coming back, his help was the likes of Smush Parker!! Players like Sedale Threatt, Luke Walton, Devin George.... Seriously?? HOW COULD HE HAVE DOMINATED OR WON?? And Jordan scored 23/6/5 at 38 as THE HORRIBLE WIZARDS only option!! MAJOR DIFFERENCE FROM A MAN doing it in his 17th year, with talent around him that can actually compete for a ring.... Not in J-Money's case. I agree Jordan is the GOAT, but he's not the 3pt threat Kobe has been. Kobe has similiar numbers to MJs even while having to take in his 1st 3 years and while being a 2nd option to Shaq!! Not in J-Moneys case either.

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  5. Definitely. And another interesting consideration that is more subjective (which is why I didn't include it) is that if MJ was in Kobe's situations with the players that Kobe has, there's no doubt that MJ would've won more titles than Kobe on those teams.


    Although an interesting consideration that was brought up is that Kobe and Jordan had significantly different roles in their respective offenses (even within the Triangle Offense under the Zen Master). Kobe had a lot more ball handling to do than MJ which complicates the comparison a bit.

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    1. Kobe's had to play for 9 different coaches. 9 differents systems. He's been a beast in all. Nuff said.

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    2. So basically Eli, Jordan was gonna win with Vlade (at 40), Odom, Chucky Atkins, Devean George, Brian Cook, Caron Butler (2nd year), Medvedenko, Jumaine Jones, Chris Mihm, Brian Grant, Sasha Vucecic, Kareem Rush n Luke Walton? Or Von Wafer, Kwame Brown, Smush Parker, Jimmy Jackson, Laron Profit, rookie Bynum, Aaon Mckie?
      I mean keep it real. And i think Rudy T. was the coach then too! Jordan wouldve never won with these teams! NEVER!

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  6. Kobe is the greatest player in the world. He scored EIGHTY ONE points and has FIVE rings. MJ, who dat? He's the guy who picked Adam Morrison!!!! LOL.

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    1. Againts raptors...

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    2. Mj has 6 rings and scored 63 points againts celtics on a playoff.

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  7. Mj has 6 rings and scored 63 points againts celtics on a playoff.

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    1. Raptors are an NBA team with a 12 man roster, and 5 players on the floor. Bad argument. Kobe's 81 nowhere near irrelevant.

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  9. Jordan, its not even close

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  10. You forgot to mention that Jordan led the League in steals 3 times. Something Kobe has never done even once. He also led the league in scoring those years. He was the first person to do this something only accomplished by Iverson (twice). Jordan was also the first person in NBA history to have 200 steals and 100 blocks in a season. He did this twice. Something only accomplished by two other people Hakeem and Pippen. They both did it once. Jordan is #3 all-time in career steals and #3 all-time in steals per game and #2 all-time in career steals in the playoffs behind Scottie Pippen. Kobe is 15th on the all time steals list and has played 120 more games than Jordan. He needs 800 more steals just to tie him. I think it's safe to say that probably won't happen. Jordan was not just a great defender he was arguably one of the best of all time. This is what truly separates him from Kobe. That being said Kobe is great and should be celebrated in his own right for his storied career.

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  11. You forgot to mention that Jordan led the League in steals 3 times. Something Kobe has never done. He also led the league in scoring those years. He was the first person to do this something only accomplished by Iverson (twice). Jordan was also the first person in NBA history to have 200 steals and 100 blocks in a season. He did this twice. Something only accomplished by two other people Hakeem and Pippen. They both did it once. Jordan is #3 all-time in career steals and #3 all-time in steals per game and #2 all-time in career steals in the playoffs behind Scottie Pippen. Kobe is 15th on the all time steals list and has played 120 more games than Jordan. He needs 800 more steals just to tie him. I think it's safe to say that probably won't happen. Jordan was not just a great defender he was arguably one of the best of all time. This is what truly separates him from Kobe. That being said Kobe is great and should be celebrated in his own right for his storied career.

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  12. Those are definitely some great points. The mentioning of his per game stats, DPOY award, and the Zen Master's comment on Kobe's (lack of) defense were enough to prove Jordan is a better defender than Kobe, but these points add some more statistical significance to that argument.


    On that note, I am cautious to place too much weight on steals for evaluating a players defensive capabilities. For the most part, I would argue that a player's defensive ability is hard to quantify. For example, Steph Curry recently said on the BS report that D12 is of course not having the greatest season but his presence and defensive ability alters shots in and of itself. Similarly, steals can inflate the appearance of a players defensive ability because someone who plays the passing lanes will get more steals...but they'll also give up more buckets.

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    1. I agree with you about steals. They can be an inflated stat although if you look at the people who are consistently on the top of the steals list at their position they are more times than not great defenders. Also you can't be someone who simply jumps the lane if you also have over 100 blocks in a season. The combination of those two stats usually mean you are a shut down defender. Especially for a guard it's not like a center who is just hanging in the paint blocking people who are coming into the lane and stealing entry passes. Jordan had 893 blocks in his career. There is not a guard within another 150 blocked shots. I know you completely agree with me. I am really reiterating this for people who are trying to make the Kobe comparison. If Jordan was just a good scorer instead of a great scorer there is a really good chance he still would have made the hall just on his dominance on defense the same reason Pippen made the hall. You definitely could not say the same for Kobe.

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  13. I agree with you about steals. They can be an inflated stat although
    if you look at the people who are consistently on the top of the steals list at
    their position they are more times than not
    great defenders. Also you can't be someone who simply jumps the lane if
    you also have over 100 blocks in a season. The combination of those two stats
    usually mean you are a shut down defender. Especially for a guard it's not like
    a center who is just hanging in the paint blocking people who are coming into
    the lane and stealing entry passes. Jordan had 893 blocks in his career. There is
    not a guard within another 150 blocked shots. I know you completely agree with
    me. I am really reiterating this for people who are trying to make the Kobe comparison.
    If Jordan was just a good scorer instead of a great scorer there is a really good
    chance he still would have made the hall just on his dominance on defense the
    same reason Pippen made the hall. You definitely could not say the same for
    Kobe.

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  14. Thanks for checking back in, Derek, and well said.

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  15. 81 points, 18-year career, never quit on the sport like MJ did.

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  16. 81 points in a regular season game compared to a 63 point playoff performance and many of the greatest playoff performances (regular season and playoffs) in NBA history? Those 81 points come in behind all of those MJ games. Also, MJ quit because he 1) had the ability to play another pro sport (which Kobe does not) and 2) he had destroyed the competition for so long that it became almost boring to him. A competitor like him desired a challenge, and basketball wasn't doing it for him at the time. He won 3 in a row before leaving and 3 in a row after coming back...

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  17. Kobe is better Jordan came in the league as the man on the bulls team and really didn't have anybody who just like him like Kobe did so really Kobe better BC he literally have to start over when shaq left

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  18. If you are referring to the fact that Kobe is better than Jordan because he had to start over without Shaq, keep in mind that he only had two titles post-Shaq. Most of Kobe's success was with the help of some great players. Kobe came into the league with the luxury of better players on the team, Jordan on the other hand did not. He was the man right from the get-go. What facets of the game do you believe he is better than MJ in? Because Jordan clearly has the more impressive list of awards and achievements.

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  19. Jordan is the greatest EVER, Kobe isn't even the greatest Laker, EVER. Get a clue.

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  20. That's pretty much exactly what the article says..

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  21. I was referring to the comments on here stating Kobe is better.

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  22. Ah that makes more sense... Was just a bit unclear because it wasn't in response to a particular comment.

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  23. There were multiple comments either directly saying that Kobe is better or implying it, so I didn't know where to place my comment. Anyway,nice article!

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  24. Definitely and that's fair. Thanks!

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  25. We can compare the statistics but MJ is simply unique! Watching this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_2M_xws77AY MJ>KB24
    www.compae-now.net

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  26. just curious, what was their record vs each other during the time they played in the league together?

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  27. http://www.basketball-reference.com/play-index/h2h_finder.cgi?request=1&p1=bryanko01&p2=jordami01

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  28. defenders now is better and stronger than back in the day. Zone/double teaming is alot harder to play against then aggressive 1 on 1. And plus MJ had the green lights to do whatever he wishes, whereas Kobe was the 2nd option before shaq left.

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  29. kobe out scored the mavs in 3 qtrs. When MJ was interviewed about kobes 81 pt performance he and said that he wouldn't allow kobe to go off like that. but kobe lid his ass up to 45 in the first half.

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  30. i wonder if MJ had come into the nba with shaq on his team would he have lead the nba in scoring 10xs?? OR have 5 mvps?? or even 6 finals mvps?? I DOUBT IT! its all about timing..kobes best individual yrs were when SHAQ LEFT cuz he had to do more.. thats when his 2 scoring titles came n he MADE HISTORY while doing them DOING THINGS MJ HAS NEVER DONE 81 PTS, 62 PTS IN 3 QTRS 50 PTS plus IN 5 STRAIGHT GAMES, or 40 pts plus in 12 straight games, n avg 35 ppg for the season n he got robbed for MVP while doing ALL THIS..ALL THINGS MJ NEVER DID.. IMAGINE IF HE HAD MORE YRS without shaq to do this while being younger?! that would equal more scoring titles n more individual awards.. keep in mind jordans best statistical yrs were in the 80s while losing.. STATS DNT TELL THE WHOLE STORY..

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  31. What also great about Jordan is he make his Teammates Better.. i don't think Kobe can ever do that..

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  32. ppl needa get their mind fixedMarch 7, 2013 at 6:39 AM

    agreed!

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  33. ppl needa get their mind fixedMarch 7, 2013 at 6:41 AM

    agreed! ppl just choose to put whatever titles and stats in favor of MJ in the article, because they have the conclusion before they even started writing this BS

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  34. To you I would ask: do you choose what you want and whatever favors Kobe you look at? I would bet that you have your conclusion before you even started reading this. And my point is: who cares? I came up with a plethora of evidence to substantiate my claim.

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  35. Haha the one thing u didnt realize.....Jordan would not survive against these players today.Kobe could have dominated those chumps that jordan played with.....with his eyes closed. Enuff said......

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  36. Two great players! Jordan is the greater player. I remember when Jordan, Bird and Magic played. True basketball days!

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  37. I like you said Kobe is know for his scoring but averages less the Jordan, but forgot to say Kobe played with shaq and pau who are better then any player Jordan played with. So of course he's not gonna score as much and when Kobe didn't have a good team he led the league in scoring twice averaging 35 pts one year

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  38. ... did you not read any of this article?

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  39. lol that was one of the most baseless comments I've ever seen.

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  40. You can't make this comparison (a stat comparison) between these two coz unlike Jordan, for a huge part of Kobe's prime, Shaq was the main offensive player for the Lakers.

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  41. a great author/news writer tends to leave bias out of his writings. Your article is full of it!! You don't even write about what kobe does good. Let's also forget the saying there's lies, more lies, and then their statistics. Statistics do not show everything. Kobe played with shaq and played within the offense, he made his team better, he's also a facilitator when he needs be. I do think michael jordan is the GOAT, but you said he's significantly inferfior to jordan. I disagree I've watched him play for over ten years seen countless minutes of him on floor. But, atleast I'll admit my judgement is a little biased because I am of the younger generation and didn't get to see him play countless minutes on the floor. Biased is biased nuff said.

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  42. Jordan was a better leader making him a better player, but make no mistake about it if they ever played each other Kobe would roast Jordan just like he did everyone else. He outscored the Dallas Mavericks himself by scoring 62 points in 3 quarters (wow) and then a month later scored 81 points in a GAME. This article is biased. Shaq was not the best player on the Lakers during those first three years, the Lakers just played weak East teams in the finals. Go back and look at the "stats" for series against better teams like the Trailblazers, San Antonio, and Sacramento. Kobe was clearly the best player on the court. The western teams had much better front courts than the Pacers, 76ers, and New Jersey Nets. In the western battles Shaq wasn't even allowed to touch the ball in the fourth quarter because he was such a liability on the line. I believe Jordan was a better player, but do not make it sound like he was on a different level.

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  43. Can I also just mention, that the rules of the game has changed. The defense during the Jordan days were much different. Defenders were allowed to do much more, they were allowed to put a hand on the player etc. Those rules were changed later. If Jordan was to be playing in today's rules, I truly believe that no player would have been able to stop him (He was unstoppable back then, so imagine today).

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  44. If Jordan were to play today he would consistently have to play against players who are bigger (Lebron, Artest, Anthony, Iggy); taller (Durant, George, Sefolosha); faster (Iverson, Curry, Paul, Rose) , and less non athletic guys as well (Majerle, Hornacek, Bird) on the wing, then back in the 80's. In his era, Jordan was an athletic freak compared to the other players, but now players are just as big, as tall, and as athletic as Jordan was back then. This is true in the comparison of any old era with the current era. Jordan would probably still average the same numbers but he would not be anymore unstoppable than Durant, James, or Kobe.

    As far as the defensive rules, then those rules also apply to Jordan. When he played, Jordan was a bully and did his best to intimidate others, with these current rules he would not be able to play as close or as tough as he did then. In this instance, I think his numbers would be closer to what Kobe averages because Jordan would have to play in a defensive scheme that is more team oriented than man on man defense.

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  45. I can't stand this comment... Kobe has the strictest work ethic of any player currently in the league, maintains the highest level of focus, and sacrifices his body through any and every injury. If that 's not motivation enough for other players, than that's not Kobe's fault, that's more indicative of the type of players in the league right now. When Kobe was on the Olympic "Redeem team" all of the young upcoming stars spoke about how impressed they were by Kobe's work habits and how it inspired them to make changes in theirs. Kobe's only focus was to win and he took less shots, played defense on the opposing team's best player, and enabled the younger guys to play their game with confidence.

    I'm not mad that he could not make all stars out of Kwame Brown, Smush Parker, Mark Madsen, Sasha Vujacic, Luke Walton, Travis Knight, Ronny Turiaf, Jordan Farmar, Brian Cook, Chris Mihm, Vlad Rad, Adam Morrison, or DJ. I do know that Shaq didn't win until Kobe began his prime years (and Phil Jackson came) or that Pau had not won a playoff game until he played with Kobe. How about Lamar he's played great w/o Kobe... I'm pretty sure Fisher would have been the starting PG on many championship teams w/o Kobe... As far as those role player mentioned above, where are they now? Kobe got those players to the playoffs and won some games, that's far more than most star players could do with similar teammates.

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  46. Sure Jordan is the greatest player ever, but comparing stats is useless because they're not playing in the same era. Kobe is not playing against players Jordan conquered and Jordan defensively did not have to deal with all of the rules favoring offensive output. Finally, the quality of star players in the current era by far are better the other star players during Jordan's reign. Essentially, this article is too biased, stats are great to see but they only tell the story that wants to be told

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  47. I have always said this ! Its funny how @elijah didnt reply lol. There is so much more talented players now that kobe has to play against then there was during mj's days

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  48. disqus_nwsJqSt7u7March 31, 2013 at 6:16 AM

    This comparative research between these two great athletes is very nice. However, I would also observe that the comparison attempted above, is based on data of the past and the present time, and I personally believe that the data have changed greatly over the years. The qualitative standards for the teams playing in the NBA now that Kobe Bryant plays, since Michael Jordan was playing are a little different. This was probably the result of the very entrance of players from all parts of the globe. The best players on the planet, all the "Primus inter Pares" around the world started mainly after the departure of Jordan to come and make a career in the NBA, as well as the influence of new teams have entered and of course the developments that have occurred in the NBA over the years .

    The Jordan is my favorite athlete and posses a very special place into my heart, but I believe, that maybe this research is a little unjust towards Kobe Bryant, since the comparison is made based on not exactly the same data .

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  49. While there is not much disparity between Jordan's and Kobe's career numbers, which creates the illusion of the opportunity to compare the two players overall, the biggest difference between MJ and Kobe is that MJ elevated the game of Basketball to a whole new level and standard of play. Kobe and all players that have come after MJ, have played their game at that level. MJ revolutionized the game in style of play, level of determination, fan inspiration, improving players around him, endorsements, even style of uniform (shorts). Jordan was the first one to move away from wearing the high-cut shorts to wearing looser, longer shorts that are now prevalent throughout the entire game of basketball. No one can point to any aspect of the game and say "Kobe is responsible for the way that aspect of the game is played!" Its kind of like comparing Bill Gates to a current windows programmer. In many ways Kobe's problem was that he tried to mimic Jordan's style of play and life style off the court. And you know what....I don't blame him for that. MJ's standard of play was so high it meant that if you could mimic it, you were going to be successful on the court. So why why not play at that level? Jordan is a once in a lifetime or generation kind of player. Kobe is a great player but has not had the same impact on the game of basketball that MJ did. The other problem is that MJ's evolution of the game was so great that its hard to imagine, right now, how the game could be evolved any further. Short of players with such talents that will allow a team to go 4 on 5, or a player averaging 50 points and 30 rebounds a game, or going 100% from the free throw and 3-pt line, I just don't see how the game could be evolved any further. That's not to say that it can't be evolved, but...... maybe not in my lifetime! MJ was a pioneer of the game. Kobe simply walked the path that MJ created. That's why you can't compare the two!! I hope this gives a better perspective on MJ's greatness on the court! Now.... as an NBA owner......that's another story....but I ain't mad at him!

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  50. disqus_pwAjewNRYdMarch 31, 2013 at 6:47 AM

    We all know MJ is the best.. why even compare

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  51. I'd rather have this stat line from jordan http://www.basketball-reference.com/boxscores/199003280CLE.html
    than the 81 point game.

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  52. The reason these things never work out is because there is always a bias. Yes, Jordan is the greatest SG to ever play the game, but you can't compare Kobe to Jordan anymore than you can Compare Shaq to Russell. First off Jordan played in an era where zone defense wasn't allowed, which has been used to slow down guys like Lebron and Kobe. Secondly the MAJORITY of Jordan's threes were made in the 3 years they shortened the line. Outside of those three years Jordan shot a paltry .288 from downtown. Putting that aside, even with the advantages one thing you neglected to mention was Jordan averaged 22.9 shots per game, while Kobe averages 19.6. As a starter Kobe has averaged 1.3 points per shot, and Jordan averaged 1.31, pretty damn close....... imagine if Kobe could have a shortened 3-PT line for 3 years in his prime. Like I said, I am in NO WAY saying Kobe is even close to as good as Jordan was, but it is easy to tell a slanted story.

    One last thing I wanna throw out, you always go to your best weapons in the Finals, and in pretty much any era that would have been Shaq, on any team. If you look at the Lakers runs though, they never would have even gotten there without Kobe, and without Kobe in the Finals Shaq wouldn't have been able to do what he did, woulda been Orlando all over again.

    Anyway, Jordan will always be the best SG, and Kobe will always be behind him. How far behind him is something that will never truly be able to be quantified.

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  53. Kobe is always going to be on the short end of the stats stick compared to Jordan. The NBA added six, SIX NBA teams in the years Jordan was playing. They increased the number of teams by 25%. To imagine the impact, just imagine right now if the league went from 30 teams to 38 and those eight teams all filled their rosters with whatever talent they could find. What do you think Mr. Bryant would be scoring a night against those scrubs?

    International players had not even started coming into the league in large numbers when Jordan played. A full quarter of the NBA team positions now are filled with the best talent the world offers, not just America.

    So stats absolutely do lie. Jordan is a great player no doubt and certainly one of the best of all time, but if you put him in as a rookie right now with this number of teams and this degree of world talent, there is no way he would do what he did in the 90's. That isn't to say he wouldn't get a ring or two, or a scoring title or two, etc. It simply means he would not be able to dominate as he did in the 90's because the quality of players around him on all sides would be so much better and not diluted.

    Jordan entered the league in 1984 but didn't get his first ring until 1991. He didn't get anything while While the Lakers, Celtics and Pistons were all stocked. It is only when these stars retired and the league expanded that Jordan was able to do what he did.

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  54. I'll try to answer this. Don't want to write an essay, so I'll just list my thoughts.

    Firstly, note that in MJ's return from baseball, he overlapped with a transition period that included KG, T Mac,Vince Carter, Kobe, Shaq and Penny. Seeing has he reeled off his second 3 peat, I think he did just fine. He didn't win them all, but the consensus is that he gave the kids a lesson. Kobe did drop 55 on the bulls (once), but I"m pretty sure the bulls were world champions that year and Jordan did his thing per usual. Shaq+Penny did knock out the bulls when Jordan returned in the middle of the playoffs. This the last time he lost a playoff series as he vindicated himself with 3peat #2.

    While I agree that players are getting more athletic, I think there is more to this team sport than athleticism. Jordan's Bulls epitomized a well balanced and well coached team run by Phil Jackson. Note that Phil came back and built another dynasty with the Lakers under his stewardship. The lakers with Shaq + Kobe were an utter disappointment before Phil arrived.

    It's interesting how Larry Bird is mentioned in the same line as Majerle and Hornacek (both exceptional players). But for a 7 footer, Bird was pretty damn mobile and skilled. Think Dirk with more resolve and D. 8 titles is nothing to scoff at.

    Also it's peculiar that an entire generation of players that includes: Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Hakeen Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, Clyde Drexeler, Isiah Thomas, Magic Johnson, Reggie Miller, Tim Hardaway, Young Shaq, Penny, Gary Payton, Dominique Wilkens, Shawn Kemp, Joe Dumars, Rodman(pistons), John Stockton, Karl Malone, Kevin Johnson and so many more were represented by a three person list: of Hornacek, Marjele, Bird (it's an insult to Bird for being mentioned next to the other two - see my comments above).

    While todays players are more skilled, thanks to the example MJ set, it's a bit subjective to say that he'd struggle in today's game when the real defense was played even before MJ's time. MJ played in a transition period where the game was moving away from being much more physical (see Jordan's Rules). The result? He adapted and flourished. Take away hand checking and Jordan can't be stopped.

    As good as the players are getting now, for every Sefolosha, there was a Kendal Gill that kids today don't know about. And for what it's worth, Kendal Gill and Gary Payton could not stop MJ and that was when you could hand check and put a hand on the defender.


    Fundamentally, the quote from phil jackson says it all. The players today rely on their athleticism and not their fundamentals. Including Kobe on defense.


    Would have been fun to watch MJ play in this era. Maybe he'd still be the best and maybe he wouldn't. I'd put my money on him being one of the greatest if you gave him the same formula for winning that he received with Chicago. If we had a time machine we could stick him on the lakers in place of kobe and see how he does ; )

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  55. i think id rather see them play together on one team rather than having them fight eachother, now that would be more interesting...

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  56. nuff said is my favourite. As if that made your argument valid

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  57. i really like your work on these articles. too bad it is not 100% objective, since you are obviously a LBJ fan making him look better vs. MJ and make Kobe look worse.
    I'm not a fan of either one, i just believe in Jordan to be the best, until LeBron proves he is after 10 more seasons.
    anyway nice effort!

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  58. but compare the game back then to today as humans evolve people become more skilled i mean the biggest threat other than Jordan was john Stockton Scottie pippin which doesn't even really count because they were on the same team Karl Malone and hakeem the dream now we players are much more athletic like derrick rose Lebron James Dwayne wade and the list goes on its just much more competitive and difficult today then it was then

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  59. "Seriously, it’s like saying Derek Fisher’s five
    titles (all won as a teammate of Kobe Bryant) are equal to Kobe’s when
    comparing a player’s legacy."

    Good God, what a fucking idiot.


    Fisher even at this best was a role player. Kobe Bryant was top 3 in the league. Take him away and Shaq wins 1 ring instead of 3. (and considering that one takeover of him against the Pacers, he may have zero) Jordan nuthuggers alos ignore that their god would've been Robin to Shaq as well, as Phil stated, so that argument goes down the drain.

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  60. Take Pippens away and u would see the difference in Jordan's game, Pippen's made Jordan life so much easier by MJ being able to save energy until the 4th qtr by not having to chase Reggie all over the court b/c when MJ did he didn't have the legs to finish that game, then Pip shutdown Marc Jackson, Pip shutdown John Starks and many more. Kobe never had a "sidekick" like Jordan meaning playing the same position with equal skill sets! Jordan could count on Pip throughout the whole including the 4th qtr. Just like Lebron have DWade to do so also. Kobe always get older stars not current or rising stars now he has Dwight who was injured for most of the season and now getting healthy now DO ME A FAVOR COMPARE THE AGE OF ALL KOBE CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM TO JORDAN'S and Lebron's? If u don't I understand!

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  61. When Zen Master made that comment it was to get him to enhance his defense even more against AI in the championship series. Stop trying to negate what this young man has done. Just say you don't like him and you will get more respect, no reason to beat around the bush. PUT ON YOUR BIG BOY PANTS(Kobe voice)!

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  62. Kobe played the role of Pippen in the offense except when the Lakers got in trouble they went to KOBE SAVE THE DAY(when he destroyed the Spurs and knocked them out the playoffs)! Jordan never had to defer to anyone or listen to everyone and including his own teammates talking about him! Do me another favor Elijah? Look at Kobe road playoff games average since you are so good at getting stats! Thanks I know that won't be to hard! lol

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  63. All about rates. If Kobe was before Jordan and Jordan was playing now, people would say that Kobe is better than Jordan.

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  64. mmm Kobe was an NBA defense player of the year and he scored more points in a single game then jordan and scored 45 points on jordan

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  65. Kobe has never been Defensive Player of the Year.

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  66. Well said! If your talking comparison/who's better, it is Kobe! Forget about the stats and look at the moves, difficult shots, athletics of Kobe vs MJ. By all means not to disrespect the phenom of MJ in his era, but to compare who's better, it is Kobe! Again, forget the stats for a sec. Think if Kobe went to a team like Cleveland in his rookie year and was let loose and shoot! Yeah, he didn't have the luxury of that, such as MJ or other rookies who got to start immediately!!! Kobe also went directly into a team that had other superstar egos (shaq), who doesn't want to give up the #1 'star attraction' of the team/fans!

    Think this: Old school vs New school. New school always win! It's just the natural progression of 'most every' sports. Example, just 10-15 years in time difference in... Formula One, Skateboarding, how bout Surfing? It's just the natural progression of life in general regarding sports! You just get better and new moves and abilities emerges!

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  67. Jordan did for basketball? How about mentioning Magic and Bird first???

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  70. I wonder why you didn't mention the fact that Kobe has a career 169 double doubles and 19 triple doubles to Michael's 51 and 1?

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  72. You're making it seem like that both eras were played the same way. While the league has more players & teams, Jordan had the more physical defenders like the Bad Boy Pistons & etc. Half of Kobe's career has been against zone defense, no hand checks and quick to whistle referees. Let's not forget all the floppers now. The league now is much softer than how Jordan played it.

    Jordan also attacked the rim more than Kobe did. Realize how many true centers were in the league during Jordan's tenure. Ewing, Olajuwon, Mutombo, Shaq, Lambeer and many more. Let's not forget some of the strong forwards that were waiting for him down low like Rodman & Malone.

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  77. Jordan Kellogg WallaceJune 9, 2013 at 4:11 AM

    I think that stats are irrelevant when It comes to comparing Jordan and Kobe because the game changed a lot in between them playing. I do agree jordan has an advantage over kobe, but only because jordan was able to go 6/6 in the finals and never let a finals series go to game 7 #dominance but other than that kobe was a better shooter, quicker, and better dribbler than michael....michaels fg% is higher simply because he took smarter and easier shoots, creating more space before pulling up. Kobe lives for taking difficult shots. In terms of defense, ofcourse jordan was a better defense when basketball was more physical being allowed to play touch defense and flopping didn't exist. On and in case who didn't know. ...the MVP award is voted on by group of reporters and analysts. There are many years in which players like shaq had better years than michael having avg a double with 25+ ppt and 11+ reb and got skipped over because of michaels name...same thing for kobe. Only difference is kobe was despised for a while (rape allegations, perceived as ball hog) so he was skipped over in his years of being the best in the world because he was on an unsuccessful team with no other potentially good players. Kobe also came into the league avg 15 mins a gamr an under another superstar. Michael came into the league as the star just like LeBron, iverson, irving...they are allowed to do what they want n never play the 2 spot. Kobe was essentially a pippen in his early years in terms of role but had mj talent. Kobe was avg all star number in his number 2 role which he played in probably 1/2 of his career. Should a player that is the 2nd option shouldn't have the same numbers as the goto guy michael. We know that kobe can avg 35ppg when he is that guy. Stats don't tel the whole story in dofferent time periods. The players have to overcome completely different ovstacles. How many amazaing players were there in jordans era? I mean truely amazing like coming out of college being great. Kobe has had to deal with the LeBrons, durants, kyries, westbrook, rose, etc. Players just come outta college playing all star basketballn curry, lillard...so much that you have to cut people from the all star ballet because there aren't enough spots....or you have players like carmelo and parker(both players considered for mvp) on an nba second team because there is to much talent.. players are so versitle and dominant now. They are freaks of nature. Just think, we had a 7'5 center in the league. They thought mj was the ultimate athlete? Lebron is 6'8 280 with the speed, hops and vision of a guard, body of a forward, strength of a center. Players that can get up the court in 3 seconds ( john wall, rose, westbrook, rondo, etc). Alot of the players that played during jordans era would even get a scholarship to play college ball. I am not saying kobe is better than mj at all..but you have to recognize the effect of time on their games and stats. To act as if kobe is so inferior to mj in every aspect of the game is ridiculous because he is pretty damn close. I wouldnt say in the same breath but definitely the same sentence. And I was gonna say paragraph but I think kobes love for the game, his ambition, and drive to win put him up there with michael

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  80. Comparing Kobe to Jordan in this fashion is ridiculous.

    For per-game stats, Jordan played more minutes, which significantly increases his averages over an entire career comparison. Minutes played has to do with coaching and the current team/opponent, so all per-game stats should be recalculated as if they both played the same minutes to be completely fair in comparison.

    Jordan played in an era with far less competition than Kobe. The only threat to Jordan was Hakeem and the Rockets, arguably the Utah Jazz. Jordan had a team with some of the best players in the league at the time such as Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant, and Dennis Rodman. Kobe has only had a single teammate that would be considered one of the best for their time, Shaq. The amount of competition in Kobe's career is astounding with teams like the 08 Celtics, Spurs, Heat, 04 Pistons, mid 2000's Suns, 2011 Dallas, and even more talent with individuals such as Carmelo Anthony, Grant Hill, Tracey McGrady, and others (talking about throughout Kobe's career).

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  81. Before calling it ridiculous, I would check my stats.

    You said Jordan played significantly more minutes. I would hardly call less than two minutes a game that. Also, if you look at the career numbers, Kobe has played more minutes than Jordan in their respective NBA careers.

    Second, stats is only part of the comparison. Look at the awards: Finals MVPs, regular season MVPs, scoring titles, the list goes on and it does not help Kobe.

    Third, you said that competition was a large differential. There's a problem there because: 1) Jordan played with nobody of Shaq's caliber. Period. 2) Shaq won the Finals MVPs during the early 00s Lakers three-peats thus Kobe was the No. 2.

    But most importantly you are highly underestimating the great players in the Jordan era. To say that Scottie, Horace, and Rodman were "some of the best" in the game is simply false. John Stockton, Karl Malone, Charles Barkley... the list there goes on as well. There's no way that you can blatantly claim that the Kobe era had better competition when it's backed up with nothing. In fact, many retired greats say that this era is particularly weak.

    And since per 36 minutes stats are important to you, here they are: http://www.basketball-reference.com/play-index/pcm_finder.cgi?request=1&sum=1&p1=bryanko01&y1=2013&p2=jordami01&y2=2003



    They don't favor Kobe in any way.

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  82. Because MJ didn't have 51 and 1. He had a lot more.

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