According to the Los Angeles Times, Phil Jackson, the legendary coach of the Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers, just released a new book in which he compares Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.
Prior to the release of this book, Jackson always resisted the temptation to make any comparisons between Jordan and Kobe in his interviews. Jackson finally broke his silence on the subject by sharing his thoughts with the public on two of the greatest players that ever stepped on the basketball court. He compared both players on many categories including their leadership on the court and their defensive skills. Unsurprisingly, Jackson determined that Kobe has fallen short in that head-to-head matchup against the greatest player that ever played the game.
Because he coached both players, Jackson is in a unique position to assess those two incredible players. That is why many basketball fans have been eager to hear what he had to say. The following is Jackson’s take on both players:
On their approach to the game:
Jackson noted that Kobe is more willing to force the issue when he is not making his shots during the game. Kobe will keep shooting “relentlessly” in hopes of getting out of a scoring slump. In Jordan’s case, Jackson said that if he is struggling to make a basket, Jordan would try to help the team by doing other things such as “passing” the ball, “setting screens,” and playing tough defense instead of insisting on shooting the ball.
Jackson thinks that Kobe has learned a great deal from watching how Jordan played defense. When playing defense, Jackson said that Kobe used his flexibility and he is generally a crafty defender. But he has a tendency to go for broke while defending. As a result, Kobe is more likely to “pay a price” or might give the advantage to the attacking player that he is guarding.
On the other hand, Jackson believes that Jordan had a much more intimidating presence when guarding another player. He also thinks that Jordan is a much more intense defender. This intensity allowed him to “shut down almost any player.”
On their leadership skills:
In the beginning, Jackson said that Kobe was tougher on his teammates. But after spending years in the league, he started to adopt a new approach. According to Jackson, Kobe has been recently more willing to make an effort in order to establish a relationship with his teammates. Jackson, however, still thinks that Kobe‘s leadership skill failed short to that of Jordan’s. Jackson noted that Jordan has the ability to use his very presence as a source of motivation for his teammates. Jackson thinks that Kobe has yet to master this level of leadership.
When it comes to basketball, Jordan represents the metrics against which all other great players are measured. In a head-to-to head comparison, it is a truism that no past or current players could measure up against the standards of excellence that Jordan had set during his career in the National Basketball Association (NBA). It would not be, therefore, regarded as a demerit that Kobe has not lived up to those incredibly high standards because he is not the only player in the league who failed to measure up.