It’s almost ironic that the last post was about the Lakers’ decline and now I’m talking about Kobe Bryant surpassing the GOAT Michael Jordan as third in all-time scoring. Last night against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Bryant reached 32,293 points after making two free throws in the third quarter. The only people in front of him now are Karl Malone with 36,928 points and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with 38,387. Bryant ended the game with 26 points, six rebounds and two assists in the 100-94 win over the Timberwolves.
I think everyone can recognize Bryant as one of the best to ever do it, but some have gone as far as to say he’s better than MJ. This, mostly coming from those who were born around the time Jordan was about to retire…well, the first time. Though I do fit somewhat in this category, I can’t say I agree. Michael Jordan truly changed how basketball is played. He’s the standard when it comes to greatness. Today’s great, LeBron James, has been compared to Jordan on numerous occasions. Have there been comparisons between him and Bryant? Maybe, but most likely only when it came to who has a better chance of beating Jordan (see where this is going?).
The obvious thing to point out would be the number of rings each great has. It does have some validity to it, but it almost seems like such a basic argument at this point because it’s been used so much. Instead of pointing out Jordan has more rings, it’s better to look at the teams each had and how they impacted the sport. Both played with Hall of Famers, but Jordan was able to assemble his team more effectively than Bryant has (or likely will). As a result, he has the sixth ring, as opposed to Bryant’s five.
Jordan was also able to accomplish more in less time than Bryant, not to mention the fact that Jordan went to college. Bryant came into the league from high school, which would seem to give him a four-year advantage. But, the time Jordan spent at UNC developed him better and allowed him to be more prepared, thus making him better coming into the league. From there, Jordan was able to do things no one has ever done before. Players now, including Bryant, model their game after Jordan, but it’s doubtful anyone will surpass him as the GOAT.
This is not to take away from Bryant’s legacy as a player. After all, he is one of the top 10, if not top 5, player ever in the mind of many and certainly one of the greatest of this generation. But before saying he’s better than Jordan, take all things into account.
* Another interesting to point out was who Bryant was playing against for this milestone. Bryant has made mention of seeing huge potential in Andrew Wiggins, the Timberwolves rookie. He was taken in the first round in the 2014 NBA Draft and definitely has huge potential. The fact that Bryant said he sees himself in the young player speaks volumes to how he feels about him and his future. Only time will tell how everything will work out for Wiggins. But, mark it down now. Wiggins could very well be the greatest of the upcoming generation.