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Phil Jackson compares how Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant treated teammates

May 16, 2013, 11:15 AM EST

File photo of Lakers' Bryant yells out in the 4th quarter of their NBA basketball game against the Nuggets

One thing that made Michael Jordan so great was his ability to make his teammates better. Like all superstars, Jordan attracted attention on the court, and that gave the Bulls’ other players room to operate. But unlike, say, Magic Johnson, Jordan didn’t necessarily excel at setting up those open teammates, at least relative to his other elite skills.

Rather, Jordan required his teammates to match his incredibly intense drive.

But demanding so much from his teammates – even punching them in the face when necessary – can be pretty alienating. In his new book, “Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success,” Phil Jackson explains how Jordan got away with it while comparing MJ to Kobe Bryant. Via Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times:

“Michael was more charismatic and gregarious than Kobe. He loved hanging out with his teammates and security guards, playing cards, smoking cigars, and joking around,” Jackson said in the book, which was obtained in advance by The Times.

“Kobe is different. He was reserved as a teenager, in part because he was younger than the other players and hadn’t developed strong social skills in college. When Kobe first joined the Lakers, he avoided fraternizing with his teammates. But his inclination to keep to himself shifted as he grew older. Increasingly, Kobe put more energy into getting to know the other players, especially when the team was on the road.”

Not to harp on a relatively minor flaw – keep in mind, compared to the greatest player of all time – Kobe didn’t bring his teammates to his level with the same success. A fun-loving Shaquille O’Neal never matched Kobe’s seriousness, and we still talk about how Smush Parker brought down Kobe rather than how Kobe elevated Parker.

But that’s part of the reason Jordan is the best and Kobe is merely one of the best.

  1. aboogy123456 - May 16, 2013 at 4:02 PM

    Kobe didn’t quit basketball to play baseball, so he’s the better player. There, I used Dan Feldman’s type of logic to prove a point.

  2. aboogy123456 - May 16, 2013 at 4:04 PM

    Believe it or not, dumb author, Kobe actually improved since his rookie year. Next time, compare apples to apples.

  3. themars211 - May 16, 2013 at 4:21 PM

    So I suppose a 17 yr old walking into an NBA locker room and lifestyle was suppose to be a leader of men? I think not. Its called evolving which everyone does. Jordan was not the greatest of teammates. He was a bully! How quickly you forget the petty vindictive speech he gave at his HOF induction. Its funny how without Shaq, Kobe seemed to gel and mesh better with his teammates because he was the alpha. There are few situations where 2 alpha male guys are going to coexist for long periods of time. You can’t have 2 presidents….smh.

  4. paulhargis53 - May 16, 2013 at 5:23 PM

    The article I’d about what PHIL said. You lakers fans are just plain ignorant.

    Kobe shouldnt be in the same sentence with GOAT. Kobe is top 15.

    Jordan isn’t the goat either, he’s not even the best guard.

  5. rohozx - May 16, 2013 at 8:36 PM

    kobe should be in there with OJ they are two of a kind.

    • badintent - May 17, 2013 at 3:20 AM

      OJ appealling his sentence ! got fat . Run Juice run !

  6. loungefly74 - May 16, 2013 at 9:48 PM

    its all good. I have friends who are social butterflies and friends who are like travis bickle…each bring their own part to the game. all good…

  7. txnative61 - May 17, 2013 at 1:43 AM

    On the field OJ was indeed “one of the best” at the very least. Character wise, dubious rape charge notwithstanding, Kobe is hardly “two of a kind” with OJ, even if you only consider just the recent conviction that has him in prison. But really, if you expect say Mahatma Gandhi of your athletes, beyond David Robinson your list is likely to be short.

  8. tdl8 - May 17, 2013 at 11:15 AM

    I guess the MJ “is the best ever” band wagon is still alive and well! Let it go and quit saying that! Best SG ever? Maybe! But how do you compare him to Wilt, Kareem, Shaq, Malone, Magic, Bird, Dr. J, Oscar, Stockton, Duncan, etc., etc.? He retired 15 freaking years ago and he is now the “greatest” owner/GM in sports history! Look at how GRRRREAT the Wizzards and now the Bobcats have been under his control!! HAHAHA! Maybe he should go back to gambling instead of running teams into the ground!

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