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Phil Jackson: Kobe is not Jordan, nobody is

Mar 13, 2011, 5:00 PM EST

Kobe Bryant Michael Jordan

Phil Jackson has been there, he has played golf with Michael Jordan. He has had dinners with Kobe Bryant. He has coached them both. He has won championships with both. His perspective on comparing the greatest player of his generation (if not all time) and his heir apparent may have the most insight.

And he wants us to stop comparing the two.

Really, we need to stop comparing anyone to Jordan, he told T.J. Simers of the Los Angeles Times.

“Kobe has patterned himself after Michael, and there are a lot of identical things there, but it’s one thing to hope to be like him, it’s another thing to be like him….

“I’m with [ESPN’s] Bill Simmons on this,” he says. “We have to take Michael Jordan out of the equation. Stop comparing anyone to Michael Jordan. It’s just not fair. He was remarkable. Kobe’s in his own sphere.

“He doesn’t shoot the same percentage [.455] as Michael [.497]. He has the same characteristics as Michael, but he’s not the same player. It takes nothing away from him — he’s a great player in his own right.”

Not sure there is much to add there. Kobe is a great player. Maybe the second best wing player ever. But he is not at the top of the list.

  1. bobthis - Mar 14, 2011 at 9:34 AM

    This is Phil Jackson’s way of saying he is the reason the Lakers have won championships not Kobe. The fact is Kobe is as good as Jordan and in a lot of ways better. The myopic Laker haters will never agree. That being said I still think Magic was the greatest of all time.

    • cornbreadbbqred - Jul 25, 2012 at 3:28 PM

      Dunno. Even Magic is on record saying he was not as good as Jordan.

    • hoopfan71 - Jul 25, 2012 at 8:33 PM

      So, if someone doesn’t agree with your opinion, they’re automatically a “hater”? That’s a pretty narrow-minded point of view. That word “hater” is so overused, and I hear it most often when someone doesn’t have a leg on which to stand in their argument.

      There are some things that many ball players have over MJ in terms of skill. That doesn’t mean they’re as good an overall BASKETBALL PLAYER as MJ. Also, saying Magic is the greatest of all time is a reach, and I’d bet even Magic wouldn’t agree with that statement in a private moment. He’s said publicly that in his opinion MJ is the greatest of all time.

      • davidly - Jul 26, 2012 at 3:58 AM

        Which kind of raises the off-topic, but topical, tangential question:
        How could there be a better team than Magic, Jordan, Pippen, Barkley, and Ewing?

    • davidly - Jul 26, 2012 at 3:41 AM

      You’re right about Kobe. Except for Jordan being a better ball-handler and slasher, creater and passer, shooter and scorer, post and perimeter defender, shot-blocker, stealer, and forcer of turnovers, and clutch at having the ball in his hands at the end of the game, KB is far superior.

    • isaachaze1 - Jul 26, 2012 at 4:50 PM

      I’m not trying to be rude here, but I think a lot of people that really don’t know much about basketball have that opinion. For one thing, it ignores half the game (defense). There is no argument that MJ was a much better defender than Kobe. But he was a better offensive player as well, with better shooting percentage and intangibles, such as never choking during big games (and yes, Kobe HAS choked at times). Kobe is a great player and it would be stupid to say otherwise. But he will never be MJ. Phil is right and we should stop having these discussions. Just say Kobe is a great player and possibly the greatest player playing right now and leave it at that. The goat is, and always will be, the goat. And the people who know b-ball know who the goat is.

    • Insight Law Firm - Dec 19, 2012 at 6:52 AM

      No. I am a Lakers fan and Kobe is no Jordan. Not even close. Jordan was never shut down on offense. Kobe has been shut down in a few series, the first being the 2004 Finals vs. Detroit. Tall rangy defenders like Teyshaun Prince can give Kobe problems.

      Who was that guy that shut Jordan down? Oh nobody. That is right.

      Lets look at defense. I am also a Magic Johnson fan. Remember that defense Jordan stuck on him in the 1991 Finals? Could Kobe have done that? Jordan was very possibly the best defender in the league. I saw him literally deny his player from even seeing the ball for an entire quarter.

      The reality is, Jordan never faltered except for his comeback year in the series vs. the Magic when he wore 45. After that, we were back to the flawless Jordan. Kobe never developed a go-to shot as he left his prime in the way Jordan developed the turn around jumper. Jordan improved his defense it seemed every year. Kobe has been falling off in that department for almost a decade. At some point, he just got bored with it and started freelancing.

    • stone52norris2 - Feb 11, 2013 at 5:41 PM

      you’re lame and kobe is DONE

  2. hateradeonrocks - Mar 14, 2011 at 11:32 AM

    bobthis in what way is kobe better than jordan? jordan won 72 games and he was the only player that averaged more than 14 points per game that year. he won 6x with 6 finals mvp’s and has how many regular season MVP’s and Kobe has 1 that he didn’t even deserve. Kobe will never be Michael stop being a huge laker homer. and magic isn’t either thats just ridiculous.

    • bobthis - Mar 15, 2011 at 2:58 AM

      The 2 MVPs that Nash won would have been Kobe’s if it was not for his legal problems at the time. The 2 that Lebron won were bogus. There are several players who never won anything that were as good as Jordon.

      • ahemahem - Mar 15, 2011 at 8:39 AM

        Nash. Never been to the Finals while JKidd did it twice.

        At least 1 should be Kobe’s.

      • mistercharitystripe34 - Jul 20, 2011 at 7:33 PM

        I agree that Nash didn’t deserve the second MVP. Dirk should’ve won in 06 instead of 07. Kobe should’ve won in 07 for carrying a team with Odom and Smush Parker to the playoffs. I’d give Kobe’s 08 MVP to Chris Paul that year, quite easily. He meant the most to his city and his team and won almost 60 games with David West and Tyson Chandler, and not much more.

        As for LeBron not deserving his two MVP’s, that’s just total LeBron hatred. Criticize the “Decision” all you want (and I would agree), but LeBron was just phenomenal from 09-10. I would love to see someone carry his teams to deep runs in the playoffs. His numbers from the 09 playoffs were some of the best all-around basketball of all-time (something like 30-10-9).

        The NBA has great talent in it right now and some compelling playoffs. That being said, no one playing right now (or since he retired) can touch Jordan.

      • connaniii - Aug 1, 2011 at 8:16 PM

        Shame on you; try digesting these: MJ won the MVP on every single Finals he played, on top of it he raised his scoring average which on every ocasion was already tops in the league up a notch, nobody has come even close to doing that!!!!

    • ymihere42 - Nov 12, 2012 at 12:44 AM

      Why are there so many “thumbs up” for a post that is factually wrong. Pippen averaged 19 ppg that year. Beyond that, “jordan won 72 games” is a ridiculous statement. They also had the coach of the year and the 6th man of the year. Along with Jordan, Pippen was all NBA first team. Pippen and rodman were also NBA defensive 1st team. Either one of them could have won defensive player of the year (pippen should have, several times). I saw virtually every game of the championship seasons for Jordan and Kobe. Admittedly, I’m a bigger Kobe fan. Shaq was dominant, but during the last two championships, Kobe’s teammates weren’t comparable to Jordan’s. Jordan’s FG% was reflective of the league when he played. Stats in general were gaudier- fg%, scoring, steals, blocks, assists, etc. Despite the overlap, they essentially played in two different eras. Further, Kobe had to put up with Shaq. Yeah, he was dominat, but should have been even better. He was lazy, and came to trainng camp out of shape or hurt every year. Jordan would have clashed with him, too.

  3. davidly - Mar 14, 2011 at 3:29 PM

    All you guys are gonna be like, “Oh man, how could I forget HIM!” when I remind you who the GOAT is. Are you ready? Skibby MaRew!

  4. ahemahem - Mar 14, 2011 at 6:46 PM

    A lot of angry people here. What did Kobe do to you?

    Have a beer. Relax, and enjoy the game.

  5. loungefly74 - Mar 15, 2011 at 8:50 AM

    that fact that a lot of comments are even suggesting kobe has the resume/skills to match MJ are incredible and speaks volume of kobe’s game. look, i’m a Laker fan…kobe is my favorite player but i will say MJ is in his own ballpark. that takes nothing away from kobe as he will become an all-time great when his career is over.
    the arguement about the playing style of the different eras is a great debate. i guess, i’m in the boat that believes the game now is harder/tougher due to the international players involved now. the diversity in their game raises the level of competition. look how we destroyed the world in 1992-94..now it’s a lot tougher.
    for those that are saying kobe is junk because you don’t like him? fine but that arguement is weak. sure, the kid has had issues but not to get all biblical, let he with no sin cast the first stone. huh, i remember mj being a jerk on the court as well, people forget that.
    anyway, i feel lucky to live in a time where i get to see a couple of the all-time greats.

  6. huegtoad - Mar 16, 2011 at 2:46 PM

    i watched just about every game jordan played, have seen Kobe a bunch. here’s my breakdown

    god gifted ability adv kobe. he’s faster, jump higher, more explosive, maybe not as graceful but more powerful

    baskeball knowledge and awareness: JORDAN, kobe had to learn on the fly within the NBA. Bobby knight said it best. Jordan Learned how to play basketball from Dean Smith at UNC. Kobe’s first teacher past highschool, actually i don’t remember but he didn’t start playing “i am not going to rely on just my ahteletic ability and actually play basketball” basketball until his 5th or 6th year

    competetiveness: adv michael, if michaels kid beat him in chutes and ladders it would ruin his day. Kobe is one heck of a compitetor but mj was over obsessive about it

    leadership: actually a push. remember pau gasol arrived because kobe spoke his mind. jordan was never shy either. both lead by example as well

    defense/intangibles: jordan kobe is good, jordan was great. everybody remembers the shot jordan hit against utah in 98, but i remember the steal he made to get the ball, just tremendous court awareness and timing. my favorite jordan play, game 7 92 east semis, jordan splits double hits lay up, runs back to steal outlet, has ball taken from him knicks throw the ball out to mcdaniels for an easy layup and jordan runs it down and blocks the shot. kobe has never done anything close to either one of those plays andjordan did them all the time

    i pick jordan

    • ahemahem - Mar 16, 2011 at 5:20 PM

      I’m a Kobe guy, but I like your appraisal and sort of buy it, so far. It’s not like the essays buy the Kobe-haters who would pick against him if the other guy was Eduardo Najera.

    • hoopfan71 - Apr 4, 2011 at 3:44 PM

      I agree with your conclusion, but in what universe has Kobe jumped higher, run faster, or been more explosive than MJ. That is absolutely incorrect. Maybe you’re remembering MJ v2 from the late-90’s.

    • bobzilla83 - Apr 5, 2011 at 12:39 AM

      I’m sorry but you must not have seen much of Jordan before ’90 if you think Kobe is more explosive, jumps higher, or is faster. Kobe isn’t even more explosive than Vince Carter in his prime.

  7. ejmor - Mar 17, 2011 at 6:54 PM

    First of all, to the guy who said Lebron’s MVP’s were bogus, does anybody realize that, pace adjusted, Lebron averaged a triple double last year. If you adjust pace back to Oscar Robertson’s season based on team FGA for points, team FG misses for rebounds, and team FGM for assists, Lebron’s numbers are equivalent to 40.1 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 10.8 assists on 50.3% shooting in 39 minutes per game. Oscar’s numbers were 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 11.4 assists on 47.8% shooting in 44 minutes per game. Lebron’s season was incredible and his pace adjusted averages over the last 4 seasons are roughly 40 points, 10 rebounds, and 9.5 assists. Bogus MVP’s? I don’t think so.

    As far as Jordan vs. Kobe, Jordan’s career averages are numbers Kobe couldn’t dream of getting in a single season, especially the field goal %. In the playoffs Jordan’s average was 33.4 points and Kobe’s highest is 32.8.

    Jordan also played in the hand check era where defenders could be much more physical. He also didn’t have a large circle around the basket where he couldn’t be called for a charge. He played in an era where it was extremely hard to finish at the basket because of dominant shot blockers like Shaq, Hakeem, David Robinson, Mutumbo, Mark Eaton, Alonzo Mourning, Ewing and others.

    Think about this. Based on PER Jordan’s third WORST full year as a Bull was in 92 with a PER of 27.7, 30.1 points, 6.4 rebound, 6.1 assists, 2.3 steals, .9 blocks, and only 2.5 turnovers on 52% shooting. Compare that to Kobe’s third BEST year which was in 2007 with a PER of 26.1, 31.6 points, 5.7 rebound, 5.4 assists, 1.4 steals, .5 blocks and 3.3 turnovers on 46% shooting.

    You can even make an argument that Jordan was a more effective player as a rookie than Kobe was in his prime. Put another way, could Kobe ever average over 28 points on 51.5% shooting? I don’t think so. Jordan wins.

  8. truebasketballfacts - Mar 19, 2011 at 9:34 AM

    let me sum this all up once and for all:
    Michael Jordan is greatest of all time because numbers don’t lie. Just compare the stats career average (people please understand that career average is what you achieve through out your career of playing PER game not one single game.) There is saying Men lie Women lie but number don’t lie. There are facts and evidence for everything.

    Let’s not talk about supporting casts: Pippen,Shaq,kukoc, Or the Ocar Winner: Fisher Flopper, ect…. Because they have nothing to do with these two as basketball players.

    For kobe fans: please do not bring up the All star game mvps because those trophies and stats are useless because all star games are pick up games. Lebron can win 10 all star game mvps if he wants to…REALLY..
    For Jordan fans: please do not bring up the facts about jordan makes more money or sold more shoes blah blah blah because that has nothing to do with being the best basketball players.

    The second fact that jordan is greatest of all time is: I do not remember anyone took 2 years off of playing professional basketball and come back and still dominate the game. PERIOD. Until someone can do that then jordan will forever be greatest.
    For people who argue that kobe is playing in a tougher league (much stronger, faster, ect…)Duhhhhh…because it is a different generation. Jordan himself has never said that he was the greatest even though many people and magazine have dubbed him the greatest.HIs
    answer was “i have never played against Wil, Oscar, Cherry West due to different generation.” So stats are the only thing that Us fans can use to compare. And by the way, how many hall of famers and NBA’s top 50 players played in MJ’s era ? ( A lot…so i don’t see how can people say today’s competition is harder than back then)

    Also, when MJ was playing in his era…did anyone in the world actually have to debate to see whether mj was the best player in the league…???NEVER… Unlike most of Kobe’s era…there were years that Shaq, T-mac, A.I, LEBRON, WADE, DURANT considered being the best player of that year…

    Last, please check MJ career average in the playoffs…NOT EVEN CLOSE…That is when everything counts…when money is on the line, when your career being defined…MJ stood out..and numbers don’t lie…

    Not saying Lebron and Wade are better than kobe but KOBE playoffs numbers are not as good as those two’s..

    And at the biggest stage???Finals…it is a long distance when you compare kobe numbers to mj numbers…

    At the end of the day, i would say kobe is the shadow of MJ. He will ended up in the top 7 of all time..And as the 2nd best SG of all time…Kobe probably had more “that One amazing game” than Michael Jordan. But MJ had legendary/excellent/great games his entire career…Tell me any nba players came out of retirement 2nd time at 38-40 still balling at set nba records as MJ did.

    The one thing that really set MJ apart from rest of the league was how he left the league in 93 then came back and still be #1 and 98 at 33 years old he was still the BEST in the league. He was named athlete of the century (beated out Mohamed Ali and babe Ruth)..until someone can do that…Jordan will be the greatest….

    One last thing, people always try to argue that kobe is better than mj because kobe takes tough shot and shoot the 3s better than MJ…Well, should Michael Jordan apologize to the world that he was so better than anyone else that’s why all of his shots look easy and he did not force his shots or tried to take over games by putting up as much horrible as possible. Also, he did not have to shoot the threes as much doesn’t mean he was not as good as kobe…check the percentage…It’s like saying Bill gates doesn’t know how to take the bus..NOT true because he doesn’t have to…

    • ahemahem - Jul 17, 2011 at 11:06 PM

      If numbers don’t lie, then Wilt is the greatest, or Russell.

      • willhnic - Aug 1, 2011 at 1:00 PM

        Not true…if numbers don’t lie…Wilt is the greatest high scorer the game has ever seen. However, MJ is still the greatest player the game has ever seen.

        They both (Wilt and Jordan) averaged 31 ppt career over 16 yrs. However, Jordan’s averages were consistently high throughout all 16 yrs while Wilt dropped almost 40% productivity after his first 8 years. He went from averaging ~40ppg his first 8yrs to 20ppg his last 8 yrs. Jordan averaged 30+ the first and last 8 yrs of his career. He still dominated his competition as he go older…Wilt wilted a bit when he new centers his size started showing up. Let’s not add to the fact that Jordan has the highest Playoff ppg PERIOD.

      • ahemahem - Aug 1, 2011 at 3:27 PM

        That makes a lot of sense, especially when you factor in how Jordan got more rebounds and blocked away more shots than Wilt.

  9. 1historian - Jul 17, 2011 at 9:47 PM

    MJ is the Beatles – he is his own category.

    • ahemahem - Jul 18, 2011 at 12:30 AM

      Maybe Kobe is Amadeus.

  10. joeksnuffy - Jul 27, 2011 at 2:39 PM

    Jordan and Kobe are very similar players with identical styles. I think physically they are about equal in terms of overall raw athleticism, with Jordan maybe being a bit stronger. Competetiveness is about the same: they would both rather die than lose. Jordan was a touch smarter than Kobe. His situational awareness and spatial awareness are just unmatched. I don’t think Jordan was quicker, but he seemed to be able to get better looks than Kobe, especially with the game on the line (though i think Kobe can consistently hit tougher shots, maybe because those are the shots he can get). Jordan was a better one-on-one and team defender due to his edge in awareness and strength.

    When it’s all said and done, I think it will be fair that (1) they are in the same conversation, (2) Kobe gets to Jordan’s scoring level, and (3) Jordan has 1 more ring than Kobe.

    • hoopfan71 - Jul 27, 2011 at 3:04 PM

      Kobe’s a great athlete, but MJ was on another level. His speed and quickness during his prime were rarely matched. I agree that he got better separation on his shots than Kobe, mainly due to his strength and quickness, so Kobe has to take tougher shots. Kobe’s potential longevity will put him close or past MJ in terms of career scoring, but MJ’s numbers at a finer detail level and his overall impact on the game are unmatched.

  11. bigbigbuck - Dec 31, 2011 at 5:48 AM

    Can’t believe you clowns are this deep into the discussion without anybody mentioning 81.

    Black mamba plays against much tougher competition and athleticism than MJ did.

    • isaachaze1 - Jul 26, 2012 at 4:57 PM

      Hmmm, yea, in which alternate universe is that?? MJ competed against the best, Barkely, Malone, Ewing, Drexler etc. So yea, sorry, that whole, “the players of the 90s were so much slower and weaker than the players that came 10+ years later” is just a lot of hogwash. Nice try though

    • hoopfan71 - Jul 26, 2012 at 5:59 PM

      Ugh, not this, again… the knuckle-dragging caveman argument. Better athletes? Based on what? For example, the top 5 vertical leaps of all time were by guys from the 80’s and 90’s. Some of the fastest 40 times in the NFL were run by guys from the 80’s and 90’s: Bo Jackson, Deion Sanders, Darrell Green (ran a 4.45 at age 50). Also, do you remember MJ dropping 43 at age 40 just nine years ago and 50 at age 38?

      The rules of the game have changed to give guys who drive and slash an advantage, which is part of the reason the league is so guard-heavy. Great traditional post players are a rare breed anymore in the NBA.

    • superhumanevolution - May 16, 2013 at 2:41 PM

      not even close buddy. Get on the basketball court and try this. First, have a buddy defend you but can’t lay a hand on you. After that, rest a bit, drink some Gatorade and ask your friend to use his hands and forearms.

      You may not score a bucket in both instances but I guarantee it will be harder for you to play with the hand checking.

  12. greenejoemean - Jan 4, 2013 at 6:30 PM

    kobe can’t compare to jordan for the simple fact that jordan never lost in the finals. I would still take kareem’s basketball legacy over MJ’s.

  13. cep123456 - Feb 16, 2013 at 5:41 PM

    Ever wonder why Bryant is so hated by sooooo many. Not just players but fans alike. If he just shut his mouth, respect his mates and get his team on the same page perhaps he and they wouldn’t be where they are now. Could not compare Bryant with Michael. Jordan is the ONE.

  14. miguel3557 - Feb 17, 2013 at 9:46 PM

    Kobe and Michael are/were awesome players. The great ones always want the ball at the end, and these are two of the greatest closers ever. They are/were incredible physically gifted. I’ve read all the foregoing comments, and I have to agree with most of them: I’d take Michael in a pick-up game for the championship anytime. You just can’t argue with his numbers–6 championships in six chances, MVP each time, driving force for all 6 teams, indomitable force, played through sickness, always rose to the challenge, played his best when challenged the most. Michael Jordan was a better defender, as many have observed. In fact, MJ is one of the best defenders of all time. Kobe is a better long shooter [but I got to tell you he may not even be the best in the game today–Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant may be better at 25-30′]. Both have/had great body control and are/were great dribblers and penetrators. Kobe was a tremendously gifted shooter at 16 years old, when he was drafted in 1996 and my Warriors passed him over for the eminently forgettable Todd Fuller] , but Michael’s shooting got better over time. But the measure of a true champion is, when the game’s on the line, how often does the champion succeed/win/step up to the plate/conquer his opponent. That goes to Michael, who is probably on this account the greatest all-around athlete of all time.

    There are a number of different skills for which a basketball player can be judged. Bigger greats, like Wilt or Kareem, play a position that doesn’t require as many skills as those needed by smaller players, whether it be dribbling with both hands, a great first step, the ability to stop and pop, cross-over dribbles, or driving on other players. Their shots aren’t nearly as difficult to execute, although Kareem’s sky hook was as beautiful as it was indefensible and Wilt had the greatest finger-roll of all time. I love stuffs as much as the next former player, but a twisting 23-foot jumper on the move over a hand in your face is a more difficult shot to make than a stuff by a big guy.

    The NBA has always been a beautiful ballet by incredibly talented athletes. Enjoy it!

  15. superhumanevolution - May 16, 2013 at 2:31 PM

    No one can dispute that Kobe is great and because I think Jordan is better, doesn’t mean that I hate on Kobe. I actually have a lot of respect for him. Laker fans and the under 30 crowd may say that Kobe was the best but in my opinion its Michael Jordan.

    People compare the two because they look so similar when they play offense but the main difference is defense. Kobe wasn’t ever a ball stopper and teams never feared him defensively. Another note here is that during Jordans era, defense consisted of basically holding, pushing, and pulling. When Kobe came into the league, it was basically a hands off league. A lot of experts consider this to be a huge change to how the game is played. You still have to have the skills necessary to play the game but without being able to touch the player you are guarding, it makes it easier to shoot and to drive to the bucket. Also, check out how many over 6’10 players there were during the mid 80’s – 90’s. How many great Centers played in the 80’s and 90’s? They clogged up the lane and basically barricaded players from getting to the hole. Cmon, go on youtube and see the difference in style of play. How would certain players react when they get hit with elbows and get held on offense. It changes the dynamics and that is why you no see a league where teams like to run the fast break style of ball. If you talk to a player now, its a technical and back in the day, you would basically take a players legs out and it might just be considered as a hard foul. Style of play definitely dictates the game and I think Jordan played in the tougher era, the more well rounded era and still won all them rings. Have a great day guys

  16. superhumanevolution - May 16, 2013 at 2:50 PM

    Forgot to mention in my last post.

    Jordan left the game for 2 years in his prime. Everyone knows that Jordan never slept, gambled in everything and still was the best of the best. No one in his Prime came close and there was never an argument. If anything Jordan underachieved based on his time off and lifestyle.

    Kobe on the other hand, takes really good care of himself and was never engaged in the extracurricular activities Jordan was involved in.

    Physically similar, mentally different, but in the end the competition, rules and gameplay is the main difference. With that said, Kobe would have been pretty dominant in the 80’s and 90’s as well but his numbers would def be lower.

    • davidly - May 20, 2013 at 5:47 AM

      Excellent, thought provoking point. A lot of folks would question your saying Jordan underachieved. But I think it overlaps with something I was thinking about very recently: the greatest teams of all time

      The 72-10 Bulls–while not being underachievers–underachieved. I have seen their record attributed in large part to league expansion. But what many fans don’t consider (or realize) is that that second three-peat Chicago team averaged 67.7 wins over those three seasons.

      In Jordan’s final year in Chicago, they won the finals and had 61 reg season wins. Can anyone in today’s game imagine breaking such a team apart? That’s insane. But perhaps another discussion.

      Anyway, as to the greatest teams of all time–and how many people talk about the current Heat team being one who’ll elapse that 72-10 record: those Bulls already elapsed by far over three seasons what the Heat did this year (minus the streak). And fair or not, last season’s championship will always have *shortened season next to it.

      Back to the underachievement of the ’96 Bulls: they could’ve won 74 or 75 games. Like you said, MJ never slept. You can damn-well bet that Rodman didn’t either. I remember a game in Denver where they came back from about 30 down to take the lead, only to run out of gas at the end in the thin Denver air. And then a meaningless one-point loss to the Pacers in their second to last game (particularly meaningless because they had already suffered their only other home loss against Charlotte two weeks earlier).

      Just look at that line-up: You got Harper, Jordan, and Pippen as essentially three huge point guards at both ends of the floor. And the game’s best ever pure rebounder cleaning up against guys like Ewing, Mourning, and Shaq. Phil Jackson actually had Rodman take Shaq one-on-one to great effect when they swept Orlando in the playoffs.

      But more to the point of your comment, I think “the rings” argument that some people make in favor of Jordan is not the decisive point, and potentially misleading. He played on a couple of the greatest teams of all time. What makes him better than Bryant is the clutch-skill he showed as basketball player at both ends of the court over the course of his entire career.

      To wit, I’ll finish with a quote from huegtoad upthread:

      everybody remembers the shot jordan hit against utah in 98, but i remember the steal he made to get the ball, just tremendous court awareness and timing. my favorite jordan play, game 7 92 east semis, jordan splits double hits lay up, runs back to steal outlet, has ball taken from him knicks throw the ball out to mcdaniels for an easy layup and jordan runs it down and blocks the shot… jordan did [those plays] all the time

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