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Kobe Bryant responds to Michael Jordan comparison from Phil Jackson

May 17, 2013, 10:45 PM EDT

Kobe Bryant Michael Jordan

Phil Jackson has a new book coming out, so he will be spending plenty of time talking it up at various media outlets in the coming weeks. The tour has begun in earnest, and the juiciest quotes from the book are beginning to be released.

If there’s one subject Jackson can speak on with absolute authority, it’s the comparison between Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant — two of the game’s all-time greats that were catalysts for the Hall of Fame coach in winning all five of his Eleven Rings.

Bryant has come up on the short end of some of Jackson’s conclusions, primarily in the areas of defense, social interactions with teammates, and the way he approaches the game in general — the latter of which is explained in the following excerpt from the book, via Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times.

“Jordan was also more naturally inclined to let the game come to him and not overplay his hand, whereas Kobe tends to force the action, especially when the game isn’t going his way. When his shot is off, Kobe will pound away relentlessly until his luck turns. Michael, on the other hand, would shift his attention to defense or passing or setting screens to help the team win the game.”

None of it was damning criticism by any means, especially considering how Jordan is considered by many to be not just one of, but the greatest basketball player of all time. Bryant, however, isn’t one to idly stand by while his body of work is being evaluated in even a remotely negative fashion, and has undoubtedly been hearing about Jackson’s comments consistently since they’ve been unleashed.

On Friday, he posted a response.

It’s an interesting hypothetical, and people have definitely downgraded the greatness of Scottie Pippen over time, while conveniently failing to bring up his importance in all of those Bulls championships whenever the Kobe versus MJ conversations take place.

But more than the importance of teammates in Bryant’s role reversal scenario is the fact that Jordan has reached almost mythical status since his playing days have ended. The reality is that no one will ever live up to Jordan’s legend; Bryant has just been the one who’s come the closest.

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