With the recent injury of Kobe Bryant’s ACL forcing him to miss the rest of the NBA Playoffs, a lot of chatter around the league has been how he will return. The return isn’t the question, Kobe will return and play more basketball. He’s not ready to pull out the rocking chair just yet. The longer Bryant plays, the more he climbs up the rankings as one of the best to ever play the game. Recent speculation says because of the competition he has had to face, Kobe Bryant should go down as the best to ever play when he decides to hang up the sneakers. Others will argue that Bryant will not, and never equal Michael Jordan’s records.
Let’s take a look at some numbers that I believe Kobe Bryant will not eclipse:
Finals MVP/Rings: Jordan 6, Kobe 2: I’m not sure if Kobe will win another title before he’s done, especially in L.A. with the Lakers. Gasol and Steve Nash are only getting older, and Dwight Howard will only get more dramatic. The core players around Bryant are not good enough to compare to Miami, Oklahoma City, or Chicago. The Finals MVP was also shared with Shaquille O’Neal who was at times more valuable than Bryant.With that being said, I personally don’t think Bryant will win another title, therefore he will not eclipse Michael Jordan’s 6 titles, compared to his 5.
Regular Season MVP’s: Jordan 5, Kobe 1. Kind of hard to believe Bryant has only one regular season MVP. With guys like LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, and others in the league, I don’t see Bryant winning enough of those to catch MJ.
Average PPG: Jordan 30.1, Bryant 25.4: While this is attainable, I don’t believe Bryant will rack up enough numbers to surpass Jordan in this career category. Bryant will be turning 35 in August, and I can’t see him putting up 30 most nights.
Scoring Champion: Jordan 10, Bryant 2: Especially with Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony in the league, Bryant will not win 8 more scoring titles. Plus, Michael Jordan won his scoring titles in consecutive years that he played. Jordan won 7 scoring titles in a row before retiring in 1994 and 1995. When he returned in 1996, he won the title three more times from 96-98.
Rookie of the Year/Draft Pick: Not much significance rides on these stats, but it is apart of their total career paths. Michael Jordan wins in both of these categories with Rookie of the Year and being drafted 3rd in the 1st round. Bryant did not win Rookie of the Year, and was drafted 13th in the 1st round
All NBA First Team: Jordan 10, Bryant 6. Bryant has not been on the NBA 1st team ballot since 2008, and I don’t see too many more times in his career.
Now let’s take a look at what stats Kobe Bryant could eclipse before he’s retired:
Assists Per Game: Jordan 4.9, Bryant 4.7
Steals Per Game: Jordan 2.2, Bryant 1.5
Rebounds Per Game: Jordan 6.2, Bryant 5.3
Blocks Per Game: Jordan 0.8, Bryant 0.5
FG%: Jordan 49.7%, Bryant 48.9%
Career Points: Jordan 32, 292 Bryant 30, 219
Career Defensive Rebounds: Jordan 5,004 Bryant 4,778
Career Offensive Rebounds: Jordan 1,668 Bryant 1,364
Career Rebounds: Jordan 6,672 Bryant 6,142
Here are the records Kobe Bryant has eclipsed:
Career length: Bryant 17 seasons, Jordan 15 seasons
All-Star Games: Bryant 15, Jordan 14
All-Star Game MVP: Bryant 4, Jordan 3
3-point %: Bryant 33.7%, Jordan 32.7% (varies)
FT%: Bryant 83.8%, Jordan 83.5% (varies)
NBA All-Defensive Team: Bryant 12, Jordan 9
Made 3PT shots: Bryant 1,505, Jordan 581
Made FT’s: Bryant 7,407 Jordan 7,327
According to these numbers, Kobe Bryant has a chance to eclipse or has eclipsed 17 of 23 categories of Michael Jordan’s career numbers. Would this argue that Bryant will be the best of all-time? Jordan has more rings, and a ton more scoring titles and MVP’s. Both players tie with two Olympic Gold medals. The big issue is the time, Jordan retired three times before retiring in 2003. Does that suggest that Jordan would still have a huge gap on Bryant in nearly all the categories? Does it make Bryant’s numbers just another shadow to the great one? Let the debate continue, but I will leave you with one final segment. The ultimate proof of just how close these players are to each other. The video below shows the exact same moves Jordan and Bryant have used in their careers. The similarities are so similar, the net sometimes moves the same exact way after the shots are made.
YouTube Credit: Youssef Hannoun