Greater than Michael? Possibly.

One of the best things about being a sports fan is getting to have your own opinion about your favorite team and/or athlete.  You’re always right and nobody is going to convince you otherwise.  When Michael Jordan said he could beat anyone except for Kobe, it brought up this question once again:  Who compares better to MJ? Kobe or LeBron?  Let’s find out by taking a look at a few of the more important areas of their careers.

PPG: Michael Jordan averaged 30.1 points per game in his career and 33.4 in the playoffs.  Wow.  In the regular season Kobe and LeBron have averaged 25.5 and 27.6 respectively.  To be fair, we can’t forget that Kobe played with Shaq when they were both #1 scoring options and the best 1-2 punch in NBA history.  Either of them could have scored 40 points every night, but they didn’t need to.  They played off each other and dominated the league.  They cruised to that 3-peat just fine.  When LeBron was in Cleveland, he had to put the team on his back every game and as a result, his PPG stats are padded.

MJ missed 64 games in his 2nd NBA season due to a broken foot.  Had he been able to play more that year, it’s probable that his PPG numbers would be even higher.  Michael’s Chicago Bulls teams were well oiled machines.  Even when he took a year off to suck at baseball, the Bulls had a 55-27 season which isn’t too shabby.  I don’t doubt that there would have been a 4-peat if Jordan was in the mix that year.  Sorry Houston.  MJ is a 10 time NBA scoring leader while Kobe has two titles and LeBron has one.  Jordan is and always will be the best scorer the NBA has ever seen.  Both Kobe and Michael are in a class of their own when it comes to creating their own shots.  They can turn any situation into 2 points and make it look easy.  LeBron hasn’t mastered this ability yet.  But with the way he flops and cries to the refs, he doesn’t need to create his own shot.  But he should probably improve his 74% free throw percentage.

Shout out to the guy who posted this video:Kobe Bryant vs. Michael Jordan- Identical Plays

Defense: The NBA All Defensive First Team is voted on by the head coaches and they aren’t allowed to pick players that are on their own teams.  Michael Jordan was voted onto the All Defensive First Team 9 times.  Just like MJ, Kobe was selected to this team 9 times not to mention the 3 selections to the All Defensive Team which is essentially the runners up to the First Team. (I’ll take a defensive B squad that has Kobe on it any day.) LeBron has only been chosen for the A.D. First Team 5 times in his 10 seasons.  One part of Jordan’s defensive greatness was his trash talking.  He played the mental game just as well as he played basketball.  I think LBJ would be left in the fetal position begging for his mommy while Michael dunked from the free throw line.  Kobe all the way.

Championships: The goal is 6.  Until Kobe and/or LeBron get their 6th ring, Jordan will always have the edge.  Phil Jackson led the Bulls to two 3-peats, then moved to LA and helped Kobe a 3-peat of his own.  It’s only fair to acknowledge that without Shaq, those 3 championship banners wouldn’t be hanging in Staples Center.  Can you imagine what could have been if Shaq and Kobe had co-existed for a few more years?  The Lakers could have had an excellent chance to 4-peat or even 5-peat.  LeBron wouldn’t even have a horse in this race if Kobe Bryant had 7 rings while Jordan only had 6.  But for now, Kobe has 5 and LeBron has 2.  Both have won back to back titles (Kobe doing so twice) and both have been Finals MVPs on two occasions. 5 is still greater than 2.  Sorry Bron Bron.

Conclusion: For now, Kobe Bryant has my vote for being the closest thing we have ever seen to Michael Jordan.  His competitive drive is insane and his work ethic is unparalleled.  He is loyal to his franchise and to his fans.  If you follow the Lakers at all, you know that Kobe has been playing in pain for the majority of his career.  He always gives everything he has just like Jordan.  Remember Michael’s flu game?  Kobe sinking two free throws on a blown Achilles was his “flu game” and the reason that he and Jordan stand alone as the best to ever play the game.

Kobe’s free throws on a blown Achilles