Kobe vs Jordan Argument
Kobe vs Jordan
It all started one night at a sports bar, where I made one offhanded comment and from there a ridiculous argument ensued. My roommate and I, the same roommate who inspired my roommate rant series, were watching a Lakers game at a local bar. Kobe Bryant was stroking it that night, hitting his patented fade away 17 footers, his spot up threes, and so fourth. I looked over at my roommate and plainly said, "I think Kobe is better offensively than Jordan ever was."
From my roommate's reaction, one would've thought I said, "I spit on your mother, your father, your brother. You know what, the heck with it, let's just throw your entire family in the mix. I hate them all," because he was instantly hostile as if I offended him by this single comment. He immediately went on the offensive and said, "Are you insane? You are joking right?"
I looked over and of course went on the defensive and said, "No. I'm serious. I think Kobe is a better all around offensive player than Michael Jordan. When I look at Kobe, I see someone who possesses the skill set of Jordan and then some. I think Kobe can physically do all the things Jordan did, but I don't think Jordan can do some of things I've seen Kobe do."
And so, the argument began. It was an epic battle that was tossed back and forth. I argued my personal opinion. I saw Jordan and Kobe play the game and I personally think that Kobe had a better offensive game. My roommate used statistics as his "proof" that Jordan was better. As if stats is the end all, know it all, as to who is better offensively and who is not. As the saying goes, "The numbers don't lie." But don't they?
Stats is based off an individual's performance against a certain team at a certain time. There is no way to tell had Kobe been placed in the exact same circumstances as Jordan if he would have performed better or worse than him. There is absolutely no way.
Is Jordan's story better? Sure. He did grow up with something to prove. He WAS cut my his high school coach. He does have 2 gold medals. He was on the first Dream Team. And yes, I'm well aware of the Jordan 6 ring argument. Yet, none of these amazing accomplishments proves that Jordan was a better offensive player than Kobe Bryant. None. It shows that Jordan was a better NBA player. Sure, I'd agree with that. Hands down Jordan was a better basketball player than Kobe. But that is not my argument.
Statistics also show that Jordan had a better field goal percentage than Bryant. Okay. Steve Kerr had the exact same career field goal percentage as Jordan's lifetime FGP. So therefore, Kerr is on par with Jordan offensively? Who cares? That's why I throw stats out the window because it's so objective, with different times, different defenses, different rules, different scenarios.
So, we were at a stalemate, cursing at each other and calling each other idiots and I thought that was the end of the argument. However, my roommate wasn't finished and so he decided to take the argument to Facebook.
Roommate's Original Facebook Post
I was tired of arguing with my friend about Jordan being better than Kobe. His argument is that Kobe is a better offensive player than Jordan because he is more versatile or at least can do more "things" than Jordan could do. For example my friend has seen Kobe hit fadeaway 3 pointers numerous times against tough defense and Jordan rarely did that. Granted I don't remember Jordan drilling many of those (Even my friend admitted that Mike didn't really have to because he usually was in a better position to score than having to resort to a desperation 3 point bomb) and I'll admit I've seen Kobe chuck up some crazy prayers that go in. I don't really have an argument against that other than, I can't argue against someone's mental highlight real of Kobe 3 pointers just as he can't really argue against my nostalgic memories of Jordan's overall domination of the sport.
First off, yes Kobe is one of the best players of all time, and one of the best Lakers definitely with Magic, Kareem, Shaq and a few others in the argument. Unfortunately there haven't been that many great Bulls so Mike is probably, at least in my opinion the greatest player of all time, with a few guys that can be thrown into the argument (Wilt, Bill Russel, Magic, Oscar) but it's not really too much of a debate in that regard.
So the question is, how do you define this argument about Kobe being a better offensive weapon than his Airness?:
Is it regular season stats, post season stats, awards, accolades, youtube highlights, impact on the game? Does the moment count? Reputation? Clutch factor? I mean really what is the basis of the argument? It got pretty passionate where "Stats don't mean anything! What about Shaq? What about Pippen? Mike can't hit a 3 like Kobe! Kobe can't drive like Jordan!" got shouted back and forth from frothing, spit covered mouths. (Nothing gets more heated than a basketball debate)
As I have no qualms about ripping into the classic Kobe BS/Mike Debate, I've done my research in that field pretty well. I'm a Knicks fan so I've had a lot of free time during the playoffs these last 10 years (hehe). I've thoroughly looked at the careers of these two elite players. I've watched them both play in meaningless games on WGN and SportsSouth and when it was all on the line in the playoffs and even the finals. I've poured through box scores and stats from games until my eyes have bled with field goal percentages and Assist to Turnover Ratio figures. I've spent many sleepless nights watch youtube videos of these guys where people even spliced together some of their nearly identical moves. I've watched the replays of classic games from NBA TV. I own all the old MJ Highlight VHS tapes (Come Fly With Me etc..) I've kinda slept through Kobe Doing Work, A spike Lee Joint and hell I've got my memories of Mike ripping my heart out right along with Patrick Ewings and leaving my MAN John Starks jock strap dangling from his shattered ankle. I watched as Kobe shot 2 for 90 or whatever it was against the Celtics in Game 6 of the finals and still somehow get the Finals MVP. Actually that game finally made me really respect Bean. I've never seen a guy try so hard with the world riding his on his shoulders like a 800 pound green and white gorilla and completely fail so many times yet get right up and try again. He just kept shooting, man! (On the brighter side he did have like 12 rebounds that game...) ((If you really want to have the perception of Kobe's image deflated in front of you just stack all 7 of his finals appearance box scores next to Jordan's box scores. Every game one at a time. It will blow your mind how good Mike actually was. But that's neither here nor there in this debate I suppose.))
Is their anyway to actually compare the two elite player's games? Kind of I guess. Can you throw out the eras? Ehh maybe. 90's iso-ball, hard fouls and perimeter handchecking vs 2000's heavy transition, flopping, and zone defenses? Oddly different games.
Obviously I believe Jordan was the better offensive player in every way though I think Kobe does spread the floor deeper with his three point shooting frequency err... ability. Though they both played in the triangle offense under the Zen Master it was a slightly different one. In his most successful years Kobe always had a fairly dominant post player.. ahem... cough... The Diesel, Gasol, Bynum, while Mike had another guy that was nearly as athletic and amazing as he was that could handle the ball... Pippen... Mike never had the greatest centers helping him out but he did have a pretty good supporting cast of roll players surrounding him as does Kobe. So it's kind of hard to throw the team argument in there other than Jordan was always the most potent weapon on his teams while Kobe did play second fiddle to Shaq for his first championship run (But that may have been due to youth and how the offense was set up at the time, and because maybe, just maybe Shaq was the better player at the time.)
An interesting way to look at it is what if you put Kobe on the Bulls and Jordan on the Lakers of their respective eras and their respective primes. That would be interesting to play with...
Jordan Kobe Conclusion
Who won the argument? Who is a better offensive threat, Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan? Well, I would have to say the roommate won the debate, because of the "overwhelming statistics". I believe people get caught up in the Jordan brand and amazing highlight reels. Yes, Jordan was phenomenal both with his control and his ability to take over games. But, let's remember here, I never made the comment, "Kobe outperformed Jordan." I'll leave it at that.