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Kobe Bryant Vs. Michael Jordan: Battle of the NBA Legends

The debate to decide the better player between Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant has rambled on for quite some time, and quite needlessly. Read on, for a statistical showdown between the two basketball giants.
SportsAspire Staff
Did You Know?
Michael Jordan's nicknames, 'His Airness' and 'Air Jordan', were coined due to his astonishing leaping ability. Jordan could leap from the 3-point line all the way to the basket, a skill he often displayed in slam dunk contests. Kobe Bryant's nickname, Black Mamba, was chosen by Bryant himself, due to his desire to achieve the eponymous snake's ability to "strike with 99% accuracy at maximum speed, in rapid succession".
Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant? The battle has raged on for quite some time. As Bryant has steadily climbed the path to NBA success and fame, he has inevitably been compared to the player considered among the greatest of them all: Michael Jordan, His Airness.

While many analysts recommend not comparing two players who played in different eras, that is what makes sports so interesting. And that is exactly what we intend to do in this write-up.

Here's a comparison of two of the modern giants of basketball.
Kobe Bryant vs. Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan is almost unanimously considered the greatest shooting guard in NBA history. Actually, scratch that, Michael Jordan is the greatest shooting guard in history. Most consider him one of the very best players the NBA has ever seen, if not the best.

However, the remarkable rise of Kobe Bryant has resulted in him being considered among the greatest names ever to play the game. He has broken numerous records, and has been the vital heartbeat of a successful and superstar-filled LA Lakers team for many years. His meteoric rise, playing on the same position as MJ and modeling his game on the Bulls legend, has led to inevitable comparisons with Air Jordan himself.

Here's a comparison of their careers, and where each of them scores or loses out.
Honors and Titles
Michael Jordan Kobe Bryant
6 5
Playoffs (out of total seasons)
13 (15) 15 (18)
All-Star Games
14 16
MVP (Season)
5 1
MVP (Finals)
6 2
All-NBA First Team
10 11
All-Defensive First Team
9 9
Scoring Leader
10 2
Steals Leader
3 0
Defensive Player of the Year
1 0
Regular Season Stats
Michael Jordan Kobe Bryant
Games Played
1,072 1,245
Total Points
32,292 31,700
Points Per Game (PG)
30.1* 25.5
Total Rebounds
6,672 6,601
Rebounds PG
6.2 5.3
Total Assists
5,633 5,925
Assists PG
5.3 4.8
Total Steals
2,514 1,835
Steals PG
2.3 1.5
Total Blocks
893 620
Blocks PG
0.8 0.5
Field Goal Percentage
.497 .454
Three-Point Percentage
.327 .335
Free Throw Percentage
.835 .838
Playoff Stats
Michael Jordan Kobe Bryant
Games Played
179 220
Total Points
5,987* 5,640
Points PG
33.4* 25.6
Total Rebounds
1,152 1,119
Rebounds PG
6.4 5.1
Total Assists
1,022 1,040
Assists PG
5.7 4.7
Total Steals
376 310
Steals PG
2.1 1.4
Total Blocks
158 144
Blocks PG
0.9 0.7
Field Goal Percentage
.487 .448
Three-Point Percentage
.332 .331
Free Throw Percentage
.828 .816
* Michael Jordan holds the NBA records for regular season PPG, playoff PPG, and total points scored in playoffs.

Note: The statistics are correct at the conclusion of the 2013-14 NBA season in April 2014. 
As you can see, apart from the very few instances where Bryant's longevity gives him the slight edge, His Airness trumps the Black Mamba in virtually every department.

Apart from his evident and famous mastery over a wide range of offensive skills, Michael Jordan was also renowned for his tireless defensive work, a criterion often used against Bryant. This made Jordan a more complete player than Bryant. He was known for his work ethic and ruthless trash talk. He was also much better in tense situations, and was a famous big-game player. He was so good that Bryant modeled his game on him; the student hasn't quite caught up to the master, we must say!
Of course, we understand that one puny article won't resolve this debate. Modern fans who only saw Jordan on YouTube compilations, if ever, will swear by Bryant as possibly the best NBA player ever. Meanwhile, those who know better will quietly whip out the statistics and enjoy the futile counterarguments.