If you ask “His Airness” the answer is Kobe Bryant. Michael Jordan arguably the greatest player to ever take the hardwood, told NBA TV that he would pick Kobe over Lebron James if it came down to a choice between the two . Jordan who is about to turn 50 years old says it comes down to the number of rings. Currently Kobe has 5 to Lebron’s one.
Jordan’s answer is bound to spark lots of debate. I agree 100 percent with Jordan’s assessment. It was not a knock on Lebron, but I think Jordan just see’s Kobe as a mirror image of himself. Kobe has many of the same skill sets as Jordan. There is no denying the “Black Mambas” zeal to win is a carbon copy of Jordan’s. His selfishness (which I don’t see as a negative) is on par with Jordan’s. Basketball revisionists forget the 7 years Jordan went without a ring. He was often accused of being a ball hog and an asshole (read Jordan’s Rules). Jordan had to dominate the ball until Pippen and the rest of the crew (Kerr, Grant, Rodman etc) came along.
Looking back to the day of the infamous “Decision”, Jordan and other NBA vets looked at Lebron’s move to Miami with derision. At the time Jordan told a reporter ” There’s no way, with hindsight, I would’ve ever called up Larry [Bird], called up Magic [Johnson] and said, ‘Hey, look, let’s get together and play on one team.’
I see Lebron as the ultimate facilitator. He should be compared to the great Magic Johnson, who if I had to pick between him and MJ and Magic I would choose Johnson because he made everyone better. The Kobe haters will say he does not compare to Jordan, but if they look at both men’s career assist averages they are very close 4.7 for Kobe and 5.3 for Jordan ( Kobe has played more games than MJ).
Finally the difference between Kobe and Lebron comes down to desire to do win at all costs. No one has ever questioned that about Kobe. Lebron needed to recruit Dewayne Wade and Chris Bosh. This allows him to roam around at will and do what he does on the court. Lebron no longer has the pressure of taking the big shot to win. Rather than running away from being the man, Kobe as Jordan did, embraces the position as the man to stop during his entire career.
Kobe must have decided to back up Jordan’s claim with stellar defense against Lebron during Sunday’s NBA All-Star Game. The Black Mamba had two blocks and a steal against Lebron. Many will say oh it’s just the All-Star game, but don’t be fooled, both players wanted to prove something in that match up, and the man with ice in his veins did!.