via Yahoo Sports
For Chicago fans, the Kobe-Jordan comparisons equal sacrilege. You can’t deny the similarities: the success, the picture-perfect fadeaways, the insane competitiveness.
Jordan disciples will assert that the parallels end there. The Howard departure pretty much sums up why Kobe will never amount to what His Airness was, even if he gets his sixth ring (that won’t be a problem this season). Simply because, no star who wants to win will ever bolt Jordan’s team.
Jordan is not exactly a self-esteem counselor. He’ll get on your case when you don’t bring it. Count on that. Steve Kerr got punched.
What exactly sets them apart? Picking it apart, to the minutest detail..
per Yahoo Sports:
The math is never black and white when comparing the number of championship trophies a player has won over their NBAcareer. Kobe Bryant has “earned” five rings, and a growing consensus started building that all he would need is one more to be on the same level as Michael Jordan. While this concept of equality may fly in a kindergarten classroom, Dwight Howard choosing to run as fast as he can in the opposite direction of Kobe should finally quell any notion that the Los Angeles Lakers’ shooting guard has ascended to the doorstep of the Chicago Bulls’ legend.
When Howard escaped L.A. during this summer’s NBA free agency, he took with him any realistic chance Bryant had to have another star big-man snag him a ring. Kobe’s first three titles came as second fiddle to Shaquille O’Neal, arguably the most physically dominant center to ever play the game. After Bryant ran Shaq out of town, the Lakers immediately went into the toilet and were unable to even capture a playoff berth in the season following their fourth straight Final’s appearance.
Los Angeles would only return to the spotlight after Kobe threatened to walk himself, prompting the Lakers to add three new big-men to the roster (Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom). Kobe climbed their shoulders for two more titles while making people believe he was the biggest reason for the turnaround. Bryant’s career proved he was only as good as his dominant inside game allowed him to be. The same cannot be said about the man to which he is unjustly compared.
During the run of six championships with the Bulls, Michael Jordan’s supporting cast read like a Who’s Who of career bench players, Scottie Pippen notwithstanding. At center, M.J. had household names like Bill Cartwright and Luc Longley. To highlight just how little Jordan got from his bigs, Cartwright averaged more fouls than defensive rebounds during the 1992 playoffs. In contrast, O’Neal’s worst playoff performance during Kobe’s first three titles happened in 2002-2003. The 15-time All-Star poured in 27 ppg and added 9.6 rebounds.
Jordan has often been characterized as a teammate who demanded an extremely high level of play from his team, even going as far as famously punching Steve Kerr during practice, but the one thing M.J. was never accused of being was selfish. Howard, Shaq, Gasol and Bynum have all sought the media at times to voice their displeasure with the me-first attitude of Bryant.
The most renowned of Kobe’s sins came in a Game 7 loss to the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the 2006 NBA Playoffs. After dropping 50 points in the Lakers’ Game 6 loss, Kobe was criticized for shooting too much in a game n which he had more turnovers than assists. In Game 7, Bryant became extremely passive, practically refusing to shoot. He took less than half as many shots as in Game 6 and only put up three attempts in the entire second half. Content to play the petulant child, Bryant sat idly by as his team got bounced from the playoffs.
This was not out of character for Kobe. In 2004, Bryant was criticized for doing the same thing in a game against the Sacramento Kings when he attempted only one shot in the entire first half in an apparent attempt to prove they could not win without him.
Considering Bynum could not wait to get away from Bryant, and Howard took his first chance to click the eject button on his seat next to Kobe, this now marks the third center to run screaming from a player who will demand a statue outside Staples Center when his career is done.
Bryant has had a very nice career, but it could be argued that his inflated legacy is a byproduct of the media’s constant need to have someone dubbed as “The Next Michael Jordan.” On paper, Kobe has five rings and ranks No. 4 all-time in scoring behind only Jordan, Karl Malone and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Yet, Bryant has only averaged 0.25 ppg more than Dwyane Wade over his career. Does the real story actually fit his contrived narrative?
It could be that his one MVP award sits oddly isolated on the shelf of a player who wants to be compared to someone with five. It could also be that his rings have all been contingent on other star players playing a more predominant role. But the countless times Kobe has come up very small in big moments is where his career differs the most.
Whereas highlights show Kobe hitting game-winning shots in the regular season, Jordan’s biggest moments are always those that happened with championships on the line. During the Lakers’ last title, Kobe air-balled a game-winner against the Boston Celtics, only to have Ron Artest clean up his mess to send the series to Game 7. In the deciding game, Bryant went 6-for-24 while Gasol tallied 19 points and 18 rebounds to lead the Lakers to victory. Bryant still earned a Finals MVP for his performance, thus ensuring his overblown legacy remained unchanged.
Comparing his last ring with Jordan’s shows the kind of player Kobe never was. In Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals, Jordan scored 45 of Chicago’s 87 points against the Utah Jazz in a game in which Pippen was rendered ineffective with back spasms. Pippen could only manage eight points, while Jordan’s starting center put up a very helpful goose egg. With the Bulls trailing in the final minute, “His Airness” scored the basket to put them within one, then got the steal on the defensive end to put them in a position to win, before draining the championship-winning jumper over Bryon Russell in what has become one of the most indelible images in NBA history.
Jordan was the ultimate competitor, and head coach George Karl may have found one sentence to perfectly encapsulate his entire career. Karl said, “You are going to have to cut Michael Jordan’s heart out to beat him.” I’m not sure anyone is lining up to say the same thing about Kobe Bryant.
Now that Howard has bolted L.A. for the greener pastures of Houston, TX., Bryant’s chances at ring No. 6 seem less likely. After putting Kobe’s career in better perspective, is it now time to officially stop with any comparisons to Jordan?
Kobe may have copied the fadeaway from Jordan’s arsenal, but he is not the same player. Bryant has had a good career made better by the championship-ready situation he was drafted into and the cavalcade of stars he has had for support. Howard’s refusal to be the next big man to anchor Kobe could send a clear signal to other players in the league to avoid the Lakers until the “Tinseltown Tyrant” has called it quits.