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Michael Jordan counts the rings, picks Kobe Bryant over LeBron James

Feb 14, 2013, 5:52 PM EDT

Jordan talks with Bryant Getty Images

Kobe Bryant or LeBron James? It’s a discussion almost every sports fan has had at some point, and we know the arguments for both sides.

This is nothing new. Rings, assists, scoring, rebounds, defense, choker, clutch, blah blah blah. You’ve heard it all before.

But when the guy most consider to be the greatest player ever weighs in on the debate? People tend to listen.

So who would Michael Jordan take? Kobe or LeBron?

“If you had to pick between the two, that would be a tough choice,” Jordan, now owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, told program host Ahmad Rashard, “but five beats one every time I look at it.”

Bryant has won five championships with the Los Angeles Lakers, with James winning his first NBA title last June. Jordan, of course, won six championships with the Chicago Bulls

“And not that he won’t get five,” Jordan said of James. “He may get more than that, but five is bigger than one.”

Ira Winderman | South Florida Sun Sentinel

It’s the only argument he needs, Shawn! In one fell swoop, Michael Jordan just vindicated everyone making the “Ringzzz!” argument all these years. This is a real watershed type moment for the screaming basketball fan who gives you unsolicited hot sports takes. Michael Jordan is on their side! The greatest ever! Who is more qualified to judge greatness than Michael Jeffrey Jordan?

What does LeBron think about all this? He doesn’t care so long as he can keep talking in the third person.

Told of Jordan’s view regarding Bryant, James left the conjecture to others.

“That doesn’t matter to me,” he said. “If you take Kobe one and then I go second . . . it doesn’t matter. I don’t really get too involved about what guys say about me, or if you take Kobe or if you take LeBron.

“As long as I’m on the floor and I try to make plays for my teammates, I don’t do what I do for other people’s approval.”

Make plays for your teammates? That’s a nice subtle dig, LeBron. Although he can’t do it now, ask LeBron about this seven years from now when he’s in full blown no filter mode like Kobe is now. Bet the digs might not be as subtle then.

With LeBron all but abstaining from the debate, Dywane Wade was asked for his opinion on how LeBron stacks up with Jordan instead of Kobe. That’s a whole different debate, but Wade made the tough choice the only way you should make tough choices, obviously.

For a moment, Kobe-LeBron took the spotlight from Jordan-LeBron, but only for a brief moment.

And yes, Heat guard Dwyane Wade said Thursday, teammates are more than aware of the growing comparisons.

Of Jordan-LeBron, Wade said, “If I’m a GM, I close my eyes and I pick out of a hat if they’re both at the same age. I close my eyes and pick out of a hat.”

Like many, though, Wade said the comparisons are unfair.

“It’s simple,” Wade said, “there’ll never be another Michael Jordan. He was the first kind of to do a lot of things. Whenever you’re the first, there can never be another.”

So Jordan would take Kobe over LeBron, LeBron doesn’t care if you take him or Kobe, and Wade would leave the LeBron-MJ choice to fate.

Got all that?

  1. yousuxxors - Feb 14, 2013 at 7:57 PM

    jordan is the GOAT but lebron never had shaq win three for him. kobe always had better teams.

    • hodaghunter - Feb 14, 2013 at 9:41 PM

      Jordan also had Pippen (one of the most under-rated great players) and in his later years he also had the Worm (if you like Rodman or not you can’t deny that guy would stop the other teams best interior player every game)

      • fanofthegame79 - Feb 15, 2013 at 12:55 AM

        If Jordan’s only argument to this question is “five is more than one” then he just admitted that he is not the best and really can’t be considered. That title would go to Bill Russel because “eleven is way more than six”. Besides, I know everyone is entitled to an opinion, but it’s not like Jordan has shown his acumen in building a good basketball team or scouting or drafting. His bobcats suck and most of the picks they’ve wasted have been just that: wastes. Trades have been terrible too. So I’m not putting much stock in him taking Kobe over LeBron. I’d be more interested in what Bird has to say – he has actually succeeded in coaching and GM’ing a contending team. Basketball is a team sport, and LeBron will always have a more team-centric style of play compared to Kobe.

    • rabellford - Feb 15, 2013 at 1:04 PM

      Ummm..Lebron needed to form a super team with D Wade and Bosh to win one. Also, Lebron did have Shaq in Cleveland and couldn’t win one.

    • omahakidw - Feb 16, 2013 at 2:58 PM

      Absolutly ! He forgets that, and if its about “rings”, Bill Russell has 11 ! Guess that makes him No. 1 then beased on this criteria. Magic needs to reconsider, and so does Jordan.

    • jimbo1525 - Oct 2, 2013 at 2:35 AM

      Yeah Kobe won 3 titles with Shaq. But without Kobe there would’ve been no titles. Kobe also won 2 without Shaq. Glad you mentioned that. Lol. LeBron has won titles with a dream team of Wade,Bosh, and Allen and of course couldn’twiwin a title without those guys. Facts are Facts.

  2. isujames - Feb 14, 2013 at 8:04 PM

    Why would my favorite player of all time not pick his son, a guy that idolizes him and worships his every move.No ones game in the past or present resembles Lebron’s game, he is an original.

    • rtfinch - Feb 15, 2013 at 11:24 AM

      I’m sorry, I missed the highlights of Kobe wearing number 23? Where are those at?

  3. kspinnerjr - Feb 14, 2013 at 8:06 PM

    So does that mean Bill Russell is the best that’s ever done it? No one has more ships. You put Lebron on every team Kobe has played on and he would have at least 6 rings at least!

  4. bigwii - Feb 14, 2013 at 8:20 PM

    You say LA is “ring city” hahahahahahahahaha ok first of all the Celtics have 17 to their 16 and when you compare all sports LA can’t come close to Boston or New York who each have over 30 rings.

    Now to the article Jordan isn’t wrong nor is he right. If you want a championship you pick Kobe you want the best record in the NBA you pick LeBron that simple.

  5. rabellford - Feb 14, 2013 at 8:31 PM

    Lebron’s aight, but Kobe’s nice!

  6. newyorkfootballjets - Feb 14, 2013 at 8:44 PM

    Lebron = most efficient player of all time. Would have won championship 12-15 times if he played in jordans era.

    • hodaghunter - Feb 14, 2013 at 9:42 PM

      Totaly different era… I’m not so sure LeBron could handle the bad boy Pistons when the modern day Celtics flustered him so easily

  7. lemfaxx - Feb 14, 2013 at 9:25 PM

    Starting five: Oneal duncan lebron jordan stockton

    • fanofthegame79 - Feb 15, 2013 at 12:57 AM

      I’d take Magic over stockton…or even Isiah Thomas.

  8. jckid21 - Feb 14, 2013 at 9:36 PM

    Lebron is fortunate to play in today’s NBA. In Jordan’s era physical play and defensive struggles was the nightly norm. To say Lebron would have won more championships in that era is foolish. Give me the NBA team today that plays as physical as the Bad Boy Pistons or Knicks of the late 80s or early 90s. If you want more justification on how great Jordan’s era was take a look at the NBA all time 50 greatest player’s list and count how many played during Jordan’s career. I think the number is 19 or 20.

    • borderline1988 - Feb 14, 2013 at 11:39 PM

      19 or 20 sounds impressive, but that’s just twisting the statistics.

      Considering the 50 greatest were chosen in 1996, and Jordan’s career began in 1984…that covers a lot of time. I think there were only 2 players chosen from before the mid1960s…so Jordan’s era actually covers a significant portion of the the entire time period covered by the greatest 50. So having 19 or 20 of the greatest 50 overlap during his playing era is almost statistically expected.

      In fact, I would argue that many of the greatest players actually played in the mid1980s. And when Jordan was winning in the 1990s, many of those great players were in the twilight years of their career. Not many of the 50 greatest were in their primes during Jordan’s championship years.

      Also, that list needs to be updated. Dont you think Kobe, Lebron, Durant, Duncan, Garnett, Wade, Allen, Pierce, Nowitzki, Kidd, Nash and others deserve to be on that list (or at least considered for it)?

      Anyways, considering what an incredible physical specimen Lebron is, I doubt he’d have any trouble playing in the 1980s.

  9. rodge1 - Feb 14, 2013 at 9:42 PM

    Wouldn’t be the first time MJ bet on the wrong horse…

  10. jckid21 - Feb 14, 2013 at 9:45 PM

    Starting 5

    Johnson
    Jordan
    Lebron
    Duncan
    Wilt

    Bench
    Oscar Robertson
    Larry Bird
    Shaq
    Russell
    Kobe
    Stockton
    Moses Malone

    • fanofevilempire - Feb 15, 2013 at 7:15 AM

      how about a fella with a good sky hook, if only there was one out there. I would even take one with the most points in the game and even if he has only 6 rings and 6 MVP’S. If only there was a guy like this.

      • cleekk - Feb 15, 2013 at 7:39 AM

        As a teammate, I’d take Bird over all of them. Dude was freakishly good without having all the athletic ability of a Jordan or a James. His teams also had a winning record against Jordan – not even close. And his will to win was every bit as good as Jordan’s. And yeah, fanofevilempire, leaving Kareem out of the lineup would be quite the oversight. I wouldn’t have Russell playing behind Wilt either. Russell won his championships against Wilt. Pure speculation on my part, but I believe Bird and Russell in the same lineup in their primes would have run any other combo off the floor – with the possible exception of Duncan. These, along with Magic, were the smartest players ever to lace up the sneakers in my opinion.

  11. whodey2012 - Feb 14, 2013 at 10:35 PM

    Everyone on here talking about Robert Horry and all that BS are freaking ridiculous! All this GM talk is irrelevant. Rashard tried to get Jordan to slip up and start a debate… Which worked and now all of you idiots took it out of context and start comparing apples to oranges. MJ is the greatest, Robert Horry sucks, and between Kobe and Lebron… Who cares?

  12. ryanmaxfield27 - Feb 15, 2013 at 4:22 AM

    Look how Jordan runs a team hahhaa the bobcats? Really? Who cares what he says

  13. BigBeachBall - Feb 15, 2013 at 4:40 AM

    hypothetically, if phil jackson decided to be a buddhist monk instead of an NBA coach….Then neither Micheal jordan or kobe bryant would have rings…..

  14. buffalobills2012 - Feb 15, 2013 at 7:34 AM

    So Bill Russell Sam Jones KC Jones Tom Heinsohn John Havelcheck and a handful of others with 7 rings are all better than Jordan because they have more rings. Dumb statement. Lebron would steamroll Jordan in 1 on 1 and in a reg game wouldnt even Be guarded by MJ. Rodman would.

  15. jayfur4u - Feb 15, 2013 at 11:07 AM

    So with that logic Big shot Bob Robert Horry is better then Lebron?

  16. curtis35w - Feb 15, 2013 at 11:10 AM

    Jordan is a bitter old man. personally i think the greatest to ever play the game. but just wish his ego wasnt as big. wish he was a little more humble.

  17. jckid21 - Feb 15, 2013 at 11:40 AM

    To fanofevilempire,

    I think Kareem probably should be in there and obviously Moses Malone would be out, but these 2 are rare and in that they have more than a few head to head match ups with each other where Malone average 6 more points per game against Kareem and also average almost 7 more rebounds a game too. I am we’ll aware of Kareem’s hardware collection, but I always felt Malone was a better player. It is close. Granted if you take Karem’s accomplishments and points then obviously Karem wins. Here us the link to there head to head matchups.

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/play-index/h2h_finder.cgi?request=1&p1=malonmo01&p2=abdulka01

  18. trimaster1 - Feb 15, 2013 at 11:43 AM

    Kobe has played in nthe NBA for 17 seasons. Lebron for 10.

    Kobe is 6 years older than Lebron. Yes, they play “together,” but Kobe played 7 MORE SEASONS than Lebron.

    Kobe is without a doubt a GREAT player. But let’s not compare them and the fact that Kobe has more rings RIGHT NOW. Let’s wait for the end of lebron’s career before we get serious about who’s better.

    Or, compare them at their respective ages. For example, whos better: a 28 year old Joprdan, a 28 year old Kobe or a 28 year old Lebron? Who would you want on your team?

  19. rabellford - Feb 15, 2013 at 11:53 AM

    Man, Bron aight but Kobe’s niiice!

  20. beardown2489 - Feb 15, 2013 at 5:23 PM

    I agree w/ Wade that there will never be another MJ. Kobe is the closest possible player.

    But damn this quote is dumb…
    “Whenever you’re the first, there can never be another.”

    Really?

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