One of the most talked about stories in the world of basketball had nothing to do with who’s currently battling for an NBA championship. Legendary head coach Phil Jackson released a book and it’s making headlines in that the Zen-master gives his input on the whole Kobe vs. MJ debate that has been raging for over a decade now.
Jackson is in perhaps the best position to speak on the matter as he coached both players while they were in their prime. Jackson made a name for himself while coaching Jordan in the 90s in Chicago and then solidified his status as the greatest coach in NBA history by leading the way in Los Angeles with Kobe as his main weapon of choice.
Jackson implied that Jordan is the better player, but he did give Kobe is due justice when it came to handing out compliments. Kobe weighed in on what he thought of Jackson’s comparison and he raised an interesting hypothetical in doing so.
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) May 17, 2013
Bryant brings up a brilliant point as Shaq has become an entity in of himself while Scottie Pippen was always the quite one taking a backseat to Jordan’s success with the Bulls. Pippen wasn’t a personality, he was a ballplayer and they rarely last in the minds of the general NBA populace. Pippen is routinely downgraded and disregarded by some fans talking up the greatness of Jordan while Kobe is almost always in the same sentence as Shaq.
But there’s a reason that happens, and it’s that Michael Jordan transcended the game and has taken on a Yoda-like status when mentioned in retrospect, while Kobe is more of the Obi-Wan type. Both are masterful Jedi Knight and the two baddest of the bad asses, but Jordan was more than a ballplayer and more than a personality — he changed the face of the game both on and off the court and there’s no box score stats for that.
Kobe may not ever be better than Jordan, but people are forgetting how damn hard it is to be second best to the His Airness.