Question of The Decade: Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant?

MJ or Kobe? Getty Images

Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant? Who is better?

This is the most asked question in basketball today. The mystery all of us basketball fans cannot answer. When you bring out this topic you could easily witness a debate because this particular topic will show you who the Jordan fans and Bryant fans really are. This is the most talked about topic in all of basketball and even professional players will argue with you who they think is really better.

Ever since Kobe came in to the league in 1996, everyone have compared him to Michael.

From their similar physical attributes – both of them stands at 6’6″, weighs around 205-215 lbs – to their amazing abilities to put the ball in the basket and play in a high level every single night. Let’s not forget how they walk alike, and even their mannerisms are the same. There’s no surprise why these two great players are always mentioned together in the same breath.

MJ or Kobe?

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant sharing a moment with the Larry O’brien trophy

Kobe Bryant came into the league in 1996 and unlike Jordan, he came straight from his high school, Lower Merion in Philadelphia where he was recognized as the top basketball player in the country. He was picked 13th overall by the Charlotte Hornets and eventually traded to the Lakers for Vlade Divac.

Without any college basketball experience, Kobe came into the league as a young talent with a big potential. At the same time, he is immature and had a hard time in his rookie season but earned his reputation as a high-flyer and a fan favorite. He came off from the bench behind guards Eddie Jones and Nick Van Excel. By the time he played his first NBA game, he was named the youngest NBA player to ever play the game.

He won the 1997 Slam Dunk competition and was named the youngest ever to win the award.

In his sophomore season, Kobe worked hard and saw more playing time and as a result he showed of his skills as a young talented guard. With him receiving more minutes, his production more than doubled from 7.6 to 15.4 points per game. Despite Kobe coming off from the bench, he was named runner up to the Sixth Man Award.

In addition to his sophomore season, Kobe was named to the All-Star team and was named the youngest ever to play in an all-star game and the youngest ever to start in an all-star game.

This marked Kobe’s emergence as one of the top players in the NBA.

In 2000, Kobe, Shaq and the Lakers won the NBA Championship against the Pacers with Shaq leading the way and named Finals MVP. This paved the way for the Lakers to repeat in 2001 against the Iverson-lead-Sixers and in 2002 sweeping the Nets. Shaq was named Finals MVP in all of the three outings.

Eventually, Kobe and Shaq couldn’t exist with Shaq arguing that Kobe is stealing his spotlight and Kobe is mad at Shaq because of Shaq’s poor work ethic while being the leader of their team. After they lost to the Pistons in the 2004 finals, Kobe, Shaq and Phil Jackson split up and began new chapters in their careers.

Kobe and the Lakers did not make it to the playoffs in 2005. But in the 2005-2006 season, with the return of Phil Jackson, marked the return of the Lakers and the rise of Kobe’s career. In January 22, 2006, Kobe Bryant scored 81 points against the Toronto Raptors. Do not forget the fact that early in the first half, the Lakers were down by 20 points. This was the 2nd greatest scoring output by a player, behind Wilt’s 100.

Kobe Bryant in the 2005-2006 season

In that same month, Kobe also became the first player since 1964 to score 45 points or more in four consecutive games, joining the likes of Chamberlain and Baylor as the only players ever to do so.

By the end of the 2005–06 season, Kobe Bryant set Lakers single-season franchise records for most 40-point games (27) and most points scored (2,832).

Bryant scored 50 points or more in four consecutive games and ten total in the 2006–07 season.

Eventually, Kobe lead the league in scoring with 35.4 points per game.

Later in the season, Kobe wanted to change his jersey number from 8 to 24. 24 was his first number in high school and then he changed it to 33.

Moving on to Kobe’s career, in the 2007-2008 season with Pau Gasol going to the Lakers by a trade, the Lakers went on capturing the West best record and eventually Kobe Bryant was named the league’s Most Valuable Player.

They went to the 2008 NBA Finals but came short with the Boston Celtics defeating them in six games.

But in the 2009 season, it will be a whole new story. The Lakers went to capture the Western Conference best record and returned to the finals and eventually beating the Orlando Magic in 5 games. Kobe was named the Finals MVP, and it was his first Finals MVP.

In 2010, Kobe had a difficult year because of his injuries that would sideline him for some time but he will comeback and with his banged up knee, his worn out bone-to-bone index finger which also became arthritic, and his injured ankle, he will carry his Lakers to the top and they will meet the Boston Celtics again for a rematch.

Kobe celebrating after the Lakers won the 2010 NBA championship

But this time, the Lakers came out on top with an epic 7-game series and an exciting finale, this was the sweetest championship of Kobe’s career and by far the hardest.

Kobe Bryant has been selected to 13 All-NBA Team (nine times to the All-NBA First Team) and 11 All-Defensive Team (nine times to the All-Defensive First Team). He is also a 13-time All-Star and a 4-time All Star game MVP.

As of his last game last season, Kobe has had 5 sixty-point games, 24 fifty-point games, and 107 forty-point games.

Michael Jordan

Here’s a young Michael Jordan

In 1984, Michael Jordan was drafted 3rd overall by the Chicago Bulls and went on to win the Rookie of The Year Award. The 1984 draft class also features the likes of Charles Barkley, John Stockton and Hakeem Olajuwon and would easily be one of the most talentend draft classes ever.  He averaged 28ppg in his first season alone that is why he was named the 1984 rookie of the year.

Let’s not forget that prior to Jordan’s rookie year, he lead his University of North Carolina Tar heels to the NCAA championship game, and eventually, won the NCAA championship in a dramatic fashion.

Michael Jordan’s shot that would define him as a clutch player

In the 1990-1991 season, Jordan won his second MVP award after averaging 31.5 ppg on 53.9% shooting, 6.0 rpg, and 5.5 apg for the regular season. The Bulls had an outstanding 15–2 record during the playoffs, and advanced to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history, where they beat the Magic Johnson-lead-Lakes four games to one. Perhaps the best known moment of the series came in Game 2 when, attempting a dunk, Jordan avoided a potential Sam Perkins block by switching the ball from his right hand to his left in mid-air to lay the shot in.

Jordan posted per game averages of 31.2 points on 56% shooting from the field, 11.4 assists, 6.6 rebounds, 2.8 steals and 1.4 blocks.

He won his first Finals MVP and NBA Championship while crying and holding the trophy.

Michael Jordan crying after winning his first of six championships

Meanwhile, Jordan and the Bulls continued their dominance in the1991-1992 season establishing a 67–15 record, topping their franchise record from 1990 to 91.

Jordan won his second consecutive MVP award with averages of 30.1 points, 6.4 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game on 52% shooting.

In 1993, the Bulls captured their third consecutive NBA championship on a game-winning shot by John Paxson and a last-second block by Horace Grant, but Jordan was once again Chicago’s catalyst. He averaged a Finals-record 41.0 ppg during the six-game series, and became the first player in NBA history to win three straight Finals MVP awards.

He dedicated this championship for his dad who died prior to this championship.

He scored more than 30 points in every game of the series, including 40 or more points in 4 consecutive games.

In 1994, Jordan retired from the game to play baseball because that is what his dad wanted him to do.

On March 18, 1995, Jordan announced his return to the NBA through a press release: “I’m back.” He came back in 1995 wearing jersey number 45.

In the 1995-1996 season, Jordan was determined to bring the championship back to Chicago. He trained hard and with the addition of a great defender and rebounder in Dennis Rodman, the Bulls achieved the best regular season record in NBA history with a 72-10 regular season record.

They defeated the Seattle Supersonics in the finals and Jordan and the Bulls started their quest for their 2nd three-peat.

Jordan got his 4th ring and 4th NBA Finals MVP.

In the 1997 finals, they met the Utah Jazz with the regular season MVP Karl Malone and John Stockton leading the way.

The series against the Jazz featured two of the more memorable clutch moments of Jordan’s career. He won Game 1 for the Bulls with a game winning jump shot. In Game 5, with the series tied 2–2, Jordan played despite being feverish and dehydrated from a stomach virus. In what is known as the “flu game”, Jordan scored 38 points including the game-deciding three-pointer with less than a minute remaining. The Bulls won 90–88 and went on to win the series in six games.

This will be Jordan’s 5th ring and 5th Finals MVP and further boosting his resume as the greatest ever.

In the 1998 finals, they will face the Utah Jazz again but this time Jordan is the regular season MVP.

In game 6, with the Bulls leading the series 3-2, Michael Jordan’s heroics is considered to be one of the greatest clutch performances in NBA Finals history.

Jordan’s shot that would define his greatness

With the Bulls trailing 86–83 with 40 seconds remaining, coach Jackson called a timeout. When play resumed, Jordan received the inbound pass, drove to the basket, and hit a layup over several Jazz defenders.

The Jazz brought the ball upcourt and got the ball to Karl Malone in the post and was being guarded by Rodman. Jordan quickly got behind him and swatted the ball out of his hands for a steal.

Jordan and Jazz guard Bryon Russell went one-on-one and with fewer than 10 seconds remaining, Jordan started to dribble right, then crossed over to his left, pushing off Russell, and made the shot that would be dubbed as “The Frozen In Time” shot. This shot is known for bringing him and the Bulls their 6th championship in 8 years, their 2nd three-peat and his 6th finals MVP.

Words cannot explain how great Jordan was and you have to see how he play to believe how great he is.

Furthermore, Michael Jordan is a leader in every sense of the word and he won’t let his team lose. He will play every game even if he is sick. Jordan is even one of the most intelligent basketball players if not, the most intelligent basketball player.

Michael Jordan’s Achievements

And thanks to the help of the ever useful Wikipedia, here are some of Jordan’s milestones.

Jordan won the 1987 and 1988 Slam Dunk contest with an epic showdown with Dominique Wilkins.

In Jordan’s career he was named in the All-NBA First Team 11 times and in the All-Defensive First Team 9 times.  He won the Defensive player of the year once in the 1987-1988 season. He lead the league in steals 3 times (1988, 1990, 1993) and also lead the league in minutes played 3 times (1987, 1988, 1989). He’s a 14-time all star that won the all-star game MVP 3-times.

Michael Jordan is a 10-time scoring champion in 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997 and 1998 respectively.

In 1988, 1991, 1992, 1996 and 1998, Michael was named the league’s Most Valuable Player.

Obviously, we all know he and his Bulls won the 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, and 1998 NBA championship.

Also in 1997, he was named as one of the NBA’s 50 greatest players.

Jordan’s decorated career stands tall above everyone’s career and that is why he is referred to as “The greatest ever to play basketball”

Who is the greatest to ever play the game?

Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant

Everyone of us has his/her own opinions. No one could ever prove who is the greatest, but in paper and based in achievements alone, Jordan edges Kobe.

They’re truly the greatest players in their generation.

No doubt, Kobe Bryant is the closest player to MJ and I doubt that there will be guys who will be close to these two.

Still, we don’t know who is better in their prime. We can’t decide who is better.

MJ and Kobe are the ones who can only answer our question.

Kobe giving MJ a hand

…But time doesn’t want this question to be answered.

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