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Ron Harper on Kobe: "He's the closest thing we've ever had to Jordan"

Jun 23, 2010, 3:12 PM EDT

Thumbnail image for kobeglare.jpgRon Harper has perspective. He was on the Bulls during their heyday for three titles. He was on the Lakers for the first two titles of the Kobe/Shaq era. Through it all he was like a coach on the floor.

And he told FanHouse Jordan remains the best, but don’t think the gap is very wide.

“I tell people that they are two great, great players, and Michael remains the best of all time, but Kobe now is right there next to him. He’s standing right next to him. He’s the closest thing we’ve ever had to Jordan. There is no one else even in the ballpark,” Harper told FanHouse Tuesday from his home in New Jersey. “Kobe is hands down the best player in the game today.”

“Michael still gets the edge because of when he played, and who he played against, but don’t take anything away from Kobe,” Harper said. “Michael played when the rules allowed all the grabbing, holding and bumping that isn’t allowed now on the perimeter. He also played against [Clyde] Drexler, [Joe] Dumars and guys like that every night. But after saying that, Kobe still would have been a star in that time.”

Harper goes on to make an interesting note about team play — the Bulls had it, the Lakers have it now. That is not just the triangle and Phil Jackson, it is a management buying into the system, it is players being willing to accept roles to win.

Look at the teams in the finals this year — the Lakers and Celtics played more like a unit than any others. They had continuity of players and system. Management went and got players to fit the system, and once in the culture players outside it bend to its will. You see the same thing in Phoenix right now. Orlando has a system. It’s not a coincidence they are the four left standing at the end.

This is not a slap at modern players — there were plenty of teams and guys out for themselves in the 70s, 80s and beyond. The point is that teams win.

Of course, it really helps when Kobe or MJ are on those teams.

  1. Mo - Jun 23, 2010 at 3:40 PM

    I find it amusing that Harper uses Jordan’s competition as an advantage for Jordan. The one thing about the Jordan era* is that the competition was relatively barren at the wings, as evidenced by him using Joe Dumars as his other non Glide example. It wasn’t like the 80s (Dr. J, Bird, Magic) or the 00s (Kobe, Wade, Lebron, Pierce). The 90s strength was in the bigs (Admiral, Ewing, Hakeem, young Shaq, Malone and Barkley).
    * One of the major critiques of Jordan vs. Magic, Kareem, Wilt, Russell in the GOAT discussion is the relative paucity of exceptional talent in the league during Jordan’s era compared to others.

  2. Eman - Jun 24, 2010 at 10:42 AM

    I have one word to say to this article:
    I do not even need a last name because all of you know who I am talking about. No one has changed the game more or been so dominant in it. Jordan was incredible and Kobe is very close to him, but nobody can touch WILT.

  3. James Gradsnigo - Jun 24, 2010 at 11:44 AM

    Ron Artest is the greatest defender of all times. He broke the will and the back of the Boston Celtics. He broke up the team. He has everybody quitting. Now, they don’t know waht to do.

  4. James Gradsnigo - Jun 24, 2010 at 11:54 AM

    Now, we can put all the questions concerning the trade of Trevor Ariza for Ron Artest to rest. I like Trevor Ariza, but I like the defense of Ron Artest. Now, Artest has his ring. I am very happy for Ron-Ron. He is a Celtic killer. Ron-Ron broke up the Celtic entire team. Doc Rivers is quitting. Raasheed if quitting. Ray Allen is quitting. They are trading Kendrick Perkins. They are in disarray. All because of Ron-Ron Artest broke the will and the back of the Celtics. And, the rest of the team (Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett) are just toooooo old.

  5. Anonymous - Jun 24, 2010 at 12:10 PM

    At the end of Game 7, you saw dejected Celtic team. It will take tmen a very very long time to get over this defeat (if they ever get over it) All because of Ron Artest. He got under Paul Pierce’s skin. He taunted Paul Pierce. He completely humiliated Paul Pierce and the Boston Celtics. The Celtics will remember the three point shot that Ron-Ron made in their sleep. It was a glorious moment in time. Paul Pierce made a statement when they won the NBA finals over a depleted Laker team (Andrew Bynum was hurt)that he was the best basketball player in the league. Ron Artest proved that he isn’t. Ron-Ron told Kobe (the best player in the league) that is you get me to L.A., I will help you beat the celtics. And, he made good on his promis. Hooray, hooray, hooray, hooray, for Ron-Ron Artest. He brok the back and the will of the Celtics. In fact, he broke up the entire team.

  6. James Gradsnigo - Jun 24, 2010 at 12:38 PM

    Now that the Celtics has been reduce to nothing, who is going to step up and beat the Lakers. Paul Pierce was humiliated by Ron Artest. Who is the next victim. I see a threepeat. I see a fourpeat. I see a fivepeat. Everybody is scrambling (trading) to find someway to beat the Lakers. Come one come all. Come and beat the MIGHTY MIGHTY LAKERS!!!

  7. James Gradsnigo - Jun 24, 2010 at 1:07 PM

    Hey Mo:
    I never looked at it that way, but you are absolutely right!!!

  8. James Gradsnigo - Jun 24, 2010 at 1:13 PM

    Wilt was a center. You would also have to include in that list: Bill Russell, Abdul Jabbar, Hakeem Ologuwan (not correct spelling), all hall of fame centers.

  9. James Gradsnigo - Jun 24, 2010 at 1:27 PM

    I’ve been a Laker since Elgin Baylor and I am a Laker to the end. But, I think Michael was a little smater that Kobe. Kobe does not trust his teammates enough. Michael did not take a lot of bad shot like Kobe. Kobe needs to pass the ball more. He needs to get more assists.

  10. Hokwei - Jun 24, 2010 at 7:30 PM

    The “Kobe is selfish” argument is tired and ridiculous. Who led the Lakers in assists each of his 5 chips? That’s right, Kobe. So please, stop with this absurd argument.

  11. dave - Jun 26, 2010 at 12:18 AM

    Yes kobe is a all around complete player now I think.He has learned 2 trust his team mates alot more i think. Im a lakers fan have been all my life and I even got upset at him in the past 4 being a ball hog as u call it. He has lost a little in his step and jumping and all and knows 2 keep them rings coming his way he needs 2 trust the other 4 on the floor and I like seeing him play like that than i do seeing him scoring 50 points he knows how to rest himself now and he will win a few more champsionships before he is done with or without phil there im sure.GO LAKERS!!!!!!!!!!!

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