Note to my readers: This article was first published on my All Net blog.
Since the Kobe Bryant vs. LeBron James debate should officially now be over, it’s time NBA fans move on to another high-profile case.
Next up? Kobe vs. Michael Jordan.
The 47-year-old Jordan recently claimed he could score 100 points in a game if he played today and then ranked Kobe simply as one of the Top 10 guards of all time. Kobe shrugged off his idol’s comments, but with the possibility of him matching Jordan’s sixth championship title this NBA season the question will ultimately be asked: Is Kobe possibly better than M.J.?
While many hoop analysts and insiders will begin dissecting numbers and comparing statistics of the two great ballers, here are my four basic reasons, fair or unfairly, why Kobe will never surpass Jordan in the court of public opinion. Please read, enjoy and drop a comment.
Before LeBron James deserted the Cleveland Cavaliers over the offseason, Kobe was overwhelmingly the most depised player in the NBA. His smugness on and off the floor has always alienated NBA fans as well as some teammates throughout his career. To top it off, his 2004 sex assault case in Colorado furthered deteriorated his credibility and public image. On the other side, Jordan was and remains one of the most beloved athletes in basketball and in all of sports today.
Like measuring up to the “perfect” big brother of sister, Kobe’s main hurdle is that he came second. What can he possibly do now that Jordan didn’t already do to sway nonbelievers? Even after his 81-point night against the Toronto Raptors in 2006, he failed to get the proper applause. Beginning his rookie year in 1984, No. 23 created a “wow” factor on the court with his soaring dunks, stingy defense and clutch shots that may never be duplicated. To many fans, Kobe’s heroics will forever lack the excitement and drama of Jordan’s.
Sometimes perception distorts reality. The perception is Kobe Bryant didn’t win those three championships in 2000, 2001 and 2002. Rather, it’s superstar and ex-teammate Shaquille O’Neal who is viewed as the driving force behind all three of those rings. Kobe’s viewed as being there simply as a sidekick. On the hand, the perception is Jordan singlehandedly lifted his Chicago Bulls to six titles. So unless Kobe miraculously wins four more titles before retiring, Jordan will always have the edge in that department.
Every generation believes its is superior. Jordan shined in an NBA era with some of the greatest to play the game like Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Larry Bird, Karl Malone, Patrick Ewing, and Hakeem Olajuwon. On the flip side, Kobe’s main adversaries like Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony may never be regarded on that level. Many Kobe haters will continue saying he was able to excel and hoist up trophies during an era of professional stiffs and inferior competition.
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