Posted February 14, 2013

Michael Jordan prefers Kobe Bryant over LeBron James because of titles

Ben Golliver, Chicago Bulls, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Michael Jordan
LeBron James guards Kobe Bryant

Michael Jordan sides with Kobe Bryant over LeBron James. (Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

By Ben Golliver

The Greatest Of All Time has weighed in on the most-discussed NBA debate in recent years, choosing to side with the bling.

In an upcoming NBA TV interview, Michael Jordan said he would take Kobe Bryant over LeBron James because the former has won five championships while the latter has only one title to his name.

“If you had to pick between the two, that would be a tough choice, but five beats one every time I look at it, and not that he [LeBron James] won’t get five, he may get more than that, but five is bigger than one.”

Yahoo! Sports reported that James did his best to play off the comments.

“It doesn’t matter to me. If you take Kobe one and I go second, it doesn’t matter. I don’t get too involved in what guys say about me or if you take Kobe or if you take LeBron. As long as I’m on the floor and I make plays for my teammates, I don’t do what I do for other people’s approval.”

The James comparisons have reached a fever pitch in recent weeks as the reigning MVP has scored 30+ points and shot 60+ percent from the field in six consecutive games, the first time that has been done in NBA history. After a slow start — at least by their standards — the Heat entered Thursday a full 3.5 games ahead of the Knicks for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. After a 2012 that saw him win MVP, Finals MVP, his first title, an Olympic gold medal and Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year award, James looks poised to continue his dominance through another postseason.

Earlier this week, with the comparisons to Jordan raging again, James tweeted that he was his own man.

“I’m not MJ, I’m LJ,” he wrote.

Clearly he’s not KB, either.

There are a million ways to slice the “Kobe vs. LeBron, LeBron vs. Kobe” question and Jordan has taken a popular tact. Rather than focus on who would win a one-on-one game, who is a better two-way player, or who was better at a certain point in their respective careers, Jordan has opted for the long-view approach. Who has enjoyed more postseason success and whose body of work is therefore more impressive?

It’s not exactly a big shock that Bryant, 34, has achieved more than James, 28, to date. In a way, this approach is a cop-out because it delays true consideration of the question until James is able to accumulate enough rings to re-open the discussion. Rings obviously aren’t the only measure of greatness among NBA players, although they are certainly an important factor and can be a helpful tie-breaker. Here, the argument is fairly useless because the two players are separated by more than a half-decade in age.

There’s some protectionism taking place on Jordan’s behalf, too. You don’t need to be a math major or even understand the transitive property to realize that if five beats one every time, Jordan’s six rings beat both five and one every time. When Jordan sets up Bryant as a standard for James to chase on these terms, he discreetly puts himself that extra step higher than both, delaying the incessant comparisons between himself and James that much longer.

James is coming after both Bryant and Jordan, and he’s coming after them hard. He’s ahead of Bryant’s record-setting scoring pace and his advanced statistics compare very favorably to Jordan’s at similar points in their respective careers. If he continues at his current pace, James will have a huge advantage over Jordan when it comes to career numbers because he entered the NBA from high school and didn’t sojourn to the Birmingham Barons during the middle of his prime. Eventually, Jordan’s best argument against James will come down to dominance: Jordan reigned supreme over the NBA for the better part of a decade, racking up titles throughout.

Jordan hints at this in the NBA TV interview as well, noting that the Bulls’ may not have achieved their full championship potential.

“We have to live the rest of our lives with this idea of … wow we could have won seven … or we could have won eight … or we could have won nine. We could have done all that.”

That number could have been even higher had he not stepped away from the game, costing the Bulls the 1994 and 1995 titles in the process. James will, when all is said and done, be stacked against what Jordan accomplished and also what he left on the table. Fair or unfair, Jordan’s legend will demand it.

This round of comments from Jordan doesn’t really advance the discussion at all. James will need the rings to validate his absurd statistics. He knows that, Jordan knows that and Bryant knows that. They all know that each other know that, too. They all know that we, as observers, know that as well.

The smartest takeaway to be found here: don’t count James out. Five more rings is not an impossibility; he’s shown no signs of wearing down and his luck with injuries to date has been impeccable. His focus on winning has been honed and he’s responded to his first taste of success with a full pursuit aimed at getting back to the summit again. Simply put, James is on track to make this a much more interesting and nuanced debate than it is right now.

65 comments
willcaleb
willcaleb

if you guys say lebron is better. kobe won with shaq and lebron couldnt and in the all star game lebron didnt score when kobe covered him and got blocked by kobe twice

m.guszak
m.guszak

What is amusing is that LeBron has as many rings as Jordan had at the same age. It is almost comical. It would be like Magic Johnson in the late 80s or early 90s saying that he would rather have Dennis Johnson than Michael Jordan as a teammate, because DJ won more rings. I am no fan of James, but there is stock in what he is saying. No championships are won by one player, they are won by teams. Jordan would have you believe that he had no help while he was with the Bulls, which is nonsense. Jordan would also have you believe he was dominant from the start, but he did not win a ring until his 8th year, after the dynasties of the 80s had gotten old and broken up. I know that the myth of Jordan is so huge now and we are all supposed to pay homage to him non-stop. But when he makes stupid statements, he should be called on them. And by the way, six rings is not a record.

ja808hi
ja808hi

but 5 06 doesnt beat 11bill russell if it was about being the best be cuz the number of rings then bill russell is the best. Stats dont lie. LB has better stats then kobe when its done and said. 

 

bwanbad
bwanbad

the last time i check the only player who was running down jordan in ring is kobe because kobe had 3 when shaq left lakers an wen kobe started to lose he was bwalin to be tread to the bull 

MikeTuck
MikeTuck

How about prefering a team over another team. This is about Jordan, Kobe, James, and a man named Stern. Stern lost the team gam at last with the Pistons, so he turned to the marketing of the individual alla Jordan. Then changed the rules to benefit the individual so he could continue his revenue flow. The game isn't what was created to benefit from 5 individuals syncing together to beat another team, it was about star power which included the selling of individuals by every magazine, ESPN, and other outlet. The highlight reel, so SI jumped in when ESPN seemed to get the edge. I started enjoying Gonzaga, Butler, and alot of small teams that taught fundemental basketball. Note: Las Vegas NCAA Champs did not have a great player but 5 good players that went undefeated. Duke took over and has done the same. Good coaching of 5 role players can beat a individual. Proof was there until David Stern pulled the rug from under the rule book to create a side show instead of a team game. Demand has brought the rulebook back into play and the NBA is getting better due to a referee about to come clean on the intire game. He was gagged and only one went down. Dallas was cheated out of a Shaq/Wade Heat teams stars, but they couldn't turn back the clock. Same for Shaq/Kobe beating a Sacremento team that had it's legs pulled out from under them also. The referee gate was a important time when Stern had to back off and blend into the shadows of basketball.

The_Chabby
The_Chabby

Please read the link to this story on YOUR front page SI: Jordan likes Kobe over Jordan....and you are professionals?

dinohealth
dinohealth

If I were Jordan, I would not not even get into these discussions. Heck, no need to react. LJ has one ring, and, a way to go to be compared to his Airness. No doubt, Kobe was the successor as the best player of the post-Jordan era, and LJ is picking up the baton, now, that Kobe is fading into the sunset. When you throw in the college years of MJ, plus the two years at his prime of swinging a bat,and, the teams he had, you really can appreciate how great he was! Hey, LJ is already the best all-around player of this league, and on pace to create the next great debate...7-10 years from now! If he gets there.

raps_junkie
raps_junkie

Make no mistake about it, this about Jordan's competitiveness nothing else. With all the talk about Lebron being better than him he wants to bring the spotlight on Kobe; which in his eyes is a more favorable comparison to himself. If Toyota and Honda are competing and everyone starts saying Honda is better than Toyota than if I'm a PR guy at Toyota I say "Honda is not even as good a Ford"

 

JoeyGolden
JoeyGolden

game or not, james is a bum for what he did to Cleveland, as far as im concerned  all the stats and rings or no rings, means nothing , Jordan , or anyone else never did what he did, holding his own press conference to declare what team he was conspiring to join, and leaving the Cavs to the very end left holding an empty bag! This town he so very much loved!!!! he stuck it to them, there have been many athletes from all sports who were better or just as good and no one ever made such a spectical of themselves,  as he did. its not just the game you have but the person you are as well, sure, many players could have done this, but didnt, i also feel he was week , and believed he couldnt win , unless he built his super star team. Jordan , Magic , Bird , none of the greats did this, and won,. can you imagine if Magic did this and teamed up with Bird and Kareem!!! endless rings!! so his ring or rings if he does get more, will be with an blemish beside them to me! sure jordan had pippen, kobe had Shaq, but not for one of them. James could have stayed at Cleveland and added a player like this , but didnt. Defenses today are terrible, soft and foregiving. Ive seen plays were he dunks and it looks like the players stood back and parted the red sea! Yes im a hater of James , for what he did as a person to Cleveland, or any team for that matter. Players can be traded like traditional times, but not allowed to ever do what he did again.

bjvande
bjvande

MJ may have been the best player of his decade, but he is far from the greatest of all time.  He was not able to win a ring until Pippen was there, and never won one any place else.   

Robert Horry has 7 rings, does that mean he is greater than MJ ?   

However, Bill Russell with his 11 is clearly greater than MJ.   He won as a player and a player coach.

WilliamSmith1
WilliamSmith1

MJ's saying it's all about the rings,,,who ever has the most can be on his starting team,,,if LJ wins more then  kobe comes off his bench ......................................................................(players and coaches  only)

Iowa
Iowa

Never knew a guy winning one NBA title, because he joined a superteam crafted for him in an era where you only need 2-3 star players and a lot of riff-raff parts to win a title, was the standard of success for all the fools who think LeBron James is the greatest player of all-time. Would think one would ask a little more out of the 'best ever.' No wonder this country is where it is. LeBron James is not even close to Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan or even Shaquille O'Neal or Kobe Bryant yet, and the latter three also benefited from the same system James did. It's silly and just shows how little disregard today's culture has of history to suggest otherwise.

l.czolgosz66
l.czolgosz66

Quit letting Nike write stories for you! This is getting as bad as ESPN, who runs a story about Jordan every day. The guy retired over a decade ago. You don't see stories about Joe Montana or Wayne Gretzky every day. But then again, they do not have a huge billion dollar clothing company pushing a line with their name on it. So, we must endure these constant Jordan intrusions into the daily news stories. Usually him being compared with another Nike spokesperson. I am so sick of it. I just wish that Jordan had been born around the same time as Magic and Bird, then we would have never had to deal with his winning any championships, because he wouldn't have!

JustAFan1
JustAFan1

Look every superstar (Magic, Bird, Jordan) had tremendous talent on their team to help them win championships, Magic had one of the greatest scoring centers in Kareem. His teammates were not shabby either. Bird had 2 other Hall of Famers playing with him. Jordan had Scottie and the greatest coach on his side. What did Lebron have with the Cavaliers? I blame that team for not surrounding James with a better cast of teammates. It speaks volumes of James talents that he took that pathetic team to the NBA finals in his 4th year and kept them in the playoff hunt every year after his first two years. If he did not leave that team he would be in the same boat as Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Ewing etc who never won a championship with their original team. Great players but never would be considered the greatest at their positions because they lack the rings. In fact when James left that team to go to Miami you saw how bad they truly were when they wound up with the 1st pick in the draft. When the other superstars(Magic, Bird, Jordan) left their teams still made the playoffs but they couldn't win the championships without their superstars.

rico
rico

Based on MJ's assessment, I guess Wilt and Bill Russell will prefer Shaq over The Dream.  Also, don't forget MJ picked Kwame Brown as the first overall pick!

jumpjun23
jumpjun23

There is one compelling stat that people don't look at when measuring lebron's so-called dominance - the number of times he CHOKED on crucial games. Let's face it. They're trying very hard to market Lebron and clean up his public image since the ridiculous "The Decision" day and disappearing in the crucial 4th quarters of their series against Dallas. and I bet you he can do that again. They're coming up with all this ridiculous stats that they can't even see Lebron for who he really is -- in crucial games where the game is on the line, he is the great LeCHOKE!

TA1
TA1

Ask MJ if he picks fried potatos over hash browns in the mornings???

panda31
panda31

kobe>lebron...some people are forgetting that kobe is 34 and not 28 anymore.

M as in Mancy
M as in Mancy

Good answer Lebron. The only people who care about Jordan's approval are Kwame Brown and Adam Morrison.

0xfece5
0xfece5

Given that MJ is a terrible judge of talent, LeBron should be flattered.

slambo
slambo

KOBE IS THE MOST OVERATED PLAYER OF ALL TIME; DONT KNOW HOW HE GETS SO MUCH RECOGNITION FOR GUNNING THE BALL. WHEN YOU SHOOT THE BALL OVER FOUR DEFENDERS AND MAKE 3 OUT OF 10; WHAT THE HELL ; HEY KOBE THERE ARE FOUR LAKERS OPEN PASS THE BALL.  FUNNY NOW THEY ARE LOSING AND HE PASSES THE BALL SIX TIMES NOW KOBE IS THE BEST PASSER SINCE MAGIC.(MY ASS) I USED TO LOVE THE LAKERS BUT I CANT STAND WATCHING HIM PLAY HIS SELFISH BALL.  AS FOR LEBRON; HE DOES MORE FOR THE GAME OF BASKETBALL THAN ANY PLAYERS SINCE MAGIC AND BIRD; LEBRON MAKES EVERYONE BETTER AROUND HIM.  MICHAEL MAY BE THE BEST EVER; BUT HIS DAYS ARE NUMBERED; LEBRON PROBALLY WONT WIN AS MANY RINGS BUT I KNOW HE MAKE A GOOD EFFORT.  NO BBALL PLAYER HAS EVER HAD THE SKILLS AND NATURAL TALENT AS LEBRON; HE IS A PHENOM.

 

m.guszak
m.guszak

 @dinohealth I will repeat, James has as many rings as Jordan had at the same age. Moreover, Jordan's rings came after the Celtics, Pistons and Lakers teams faded into the sunset. Jordan never carried a team to the finals that was as limited as the Cleveland team James took to the Finals. You Jordan fanatics have been fed a myth by Nike and the NBA.

jamesknauf
jamesknauf

 @JoeyGolden i'm from cleveland and i know for sure lebron would have never gotten a ring in cleveland...cleveland teams are a sorry ass team

The_Chabby
The_Chabby

 @bjvande Wow.........you are just as uneducated as Stephen A Smith's sources....

I.p.Whitfield
I.p.Whitfield

 @bjvande You are sick.  First off Jordan and Pippen grew together Pippen didnt come to Chicago as a free agent and Pippen didnt leave a team as an all star to join Jordan. Pippen was drafted and became a compliment to Jordan.  All great teams has a super star and a good compliment player or players.  Jordan was the leader of the Bulls much like Bird, Magic, Durant, Bryant, Shaq, Ewing, etc  He is undefeated in the finals and lead a team to a 72-10 record.  Bill Russel played in an era before basketball really evolved and Robert Horry is not a superstar he is a role player that is a lucky free agent bench player that happen to be on championship teams much like John Salley.

 

JustAFan1
JustAFan1

@Iowa Lebron belongs in the conversation as me of the top 5 players of all time. Even Charles Barkley and the rest of the world is acknowledging that not just "stupid" fans. Kobe Bryant has NOT won sh*t without Shaq or great group of players. Once Shaq left Kobe did not get back to the NBA finals for 3 years. He'll he couldn't get past the first round even when his team had a 3-1 lead in 1st round. Between 2004-2007 the real Kobe was on display. A great scorer but not a great teammate. Even Phil Jackson called him out on the carpet for being "uncoachable" when he left in 2003. Only once the Lakers got Pau Gasol(lopsided trade) and Andrew Bynum(draft) did the Lakers get back to the NBA finals. Kobe won his two championships with another set great cast of teammates. And this year is proving yet again how Kobe is a great individual player but NOT a team player that can elevate his teammates. James elevates his teammates much like Magic and Bird did for their teams. Jordan bullied his teammates to play to his standards.

tdev27
tdev27

one of the best comments I have read ever on the internet.  Just truthful. 

MagicMike
MagicMike

Critical thinking at its finest l.czolgosz66!

tdev27
tdev27

lol...right after the greatest comment...back to reality with this nonsense.  You can't say he wouldn't have won....period

TomStrodtbeck
TomStrodtbeck

 @JustAFan1 Excellent post, but maybe a little harsh on the Cavs. They had the best record in the league in 08-09, had the second best home record ever, and thrashed Detroit and Atlanta in the playoffs.Then again, you look at that roster and say "That was the best team in the league?"

Pares Hilton
Pares Hilton

 @JustAFan1 Before comparing Lebron to Jordan, ask yourself first if he's even better than Magic or Bird.

Bird doubled the Celtics' win total in his rookie year compared to the previous year, topped the Eastern conference in the regular season and reached the conf finals. Did he have tremendous talent around him or was HE that tremendous talent that joined the Celtics that year?Magic was a rookie when he won finals MVP withOUT the injured Kareem. This is the same Kareem with one MVP award with the Lakers but without a finals appearance. Magic made everyone around him look tremendously talented (Kurt Rambis, anyone?).

JoeyGolden
JoeyGolden

He could have done the same thing, they were trying to get him a compliment player and he left them, they were tied up for money because of his salary. and those teams got that way then by the draft!!!! not free agency. just smart drafting !!!! and then some free agency. but that was limited. it wasnt such a money making thing then, players stayed with their teams. I credit the guys like barkley and malone , ewing, they stayed put and showed respect, they just couldnt get the right complment player to put them over the top, and mind you they lost to the very other teams who won! like Bird , magic and jordan!!!!we can debate all we want , it just comes down to who you like or dont and what you judge as a player and a person.

tdev27
tdev27

good comment...but more than just Lebron left.  And don't forget that he lost with Miami as well as the cavs.  Not taking away from LJ...just when you compare him to a MJ...you have to factor everything....

rico
rico

 @jumpjun23 Yes, he choked in the past because he didn't have the right supporting cast.  You think MJ or Kobe would have never choked without the help of Pippen or Shaq? Honestly though, after the first finals, when did you see him choke? Disappearing act? Yes, that goes back again to no support.  How much can a player exert effort if he is being double team constantly throughout the entire game? As far as the "The Decision", give me a break.  If that's what the PR only have to worry then that's an easy task than say "rape, DUI or gun related incidents."

Kobenatics
Kobenatics

 Years ago I believe that Kobe will challenged Jordan in GOAT. But as he aged he did not evolve and become an all-around player. He is more concerned in scoring than being a team player. It is sad because if he opted to be a facilitator much earlier in his career and learned to play team ball. The Lakers of 2000's with Shaq in his prime will win, in my opinion, a 5 peat. But Kobe's agenda is to be like Jordan, but fell short, way short. Do you remember any Kobe Bryant Finals moment? Can you make a compilation of his NBA Finals play. Yes he is a clutch shooter and all but when he is done he won't remembered like Magic, Bird or Jordan. FYI I'm a Laker Fan Magic, Worthy and Kobe are my favorites. And it is painful to watch Kobe's attitude towards the game even in the twilight of his career.

TA1
TA1

 @slambo

 the Big O had those kind of skills... but he was too thin by todays standards...

CyrilPlummer
CyrilPlummer

 @m.guszak  @dinohealth 

"Jordan's rings came after the Celtics, Pistons and Lakers teams faded into the sunset."

I must disagree. He had to go through the Detroit Pistons, New York, Phoenix and Miami which were stacked teams with all-star players in their prime. Kobe and Lebron could not do the things Jordan could do. They are simply not in his class . Kobe helped win rings but was not the focal point. Jordan was triple teamed regularly and teams built entire defensive strategies just to stop him.

JustAFan1
JustAFan1

@Pares Hilton if you look up the history the Celtics turn around was because the legendary GM Auerbach came back to the team and made some moves to fix the roster in addition to getting Bird. Magic lost Kareem for game 6 of the NBA finals. Magic did have another Hall of Famer in Jamall Wilkes who had37 pts in that game to help Magic. Magic did have a tremendous game in game 6 and deserved to win the MVP but realize that Magic was not by himself when he got the team to the NBa finals. Unlike James who had no one on that team that would sniff the Hall of Fame when he took the Cavaliers to the NBA finals. I believe that the Cavaliers only trip to the finals came from James efforts. He gave everything to the city to make them respectable. But if he wanted to have a chance to win rings then he would have to leave for team that would build around him. My one complaint with James move to the Heat was that he took Bosh to the Heat with him. He should have waited to get Tyson Candler to be on the Heat team then they would have the inside player who would do the dirty work like defend and rebound in the paint.

JustAFan1
JustAFan1

@JoeyGolden Barkley left Philly to go to Phoenix. Malone joined the Lakers to try for a ring. Only Ewing stayed with the Knicks. I completely blame the Cavaliers for forcing James to leave. They never drafted well or signed the right players in free agency. They were up against the cap and couldn't sign any impact players so James had to leave to get his ring.

rico
rico

 @JoeyGolden Compliment LJ playing for the Cavs? Lol! What compliment? The best player they paired him up was washed up Shaq. 

JustAFan1
JustAFan1

@tdev27 Along with Lebron, the overweight Shaquille left and the mighty Delonte West was traded. Plus the head coach Mike Brown was fired (who also was fired by the Lakers this season). Not exactly great losses that would have prevented the worst record of the league in 2010. Shaq is a Hall of Famer but he was no where near his great form when he was playing with James. The roster was a bunch of journeymen plus James.

Pares Hilton
Pares Hilton

 @rico  @jumpjun23 "supporting cast" very convenient cop-out. If he's even as good as Magic Johnson, Lebron should have made his teammates better.Why compare him to Magic? Because Lebron avoided the Jordan comparisons, not wanting to take the last shot, but to take the easy and safe approach of passing on crucial situations to hide his choke job.

bryandepalma10
bryandepalma10

 @rico  @jumpjun23 1st finals? that was against San Antonio. 2nd finals against Dallas- that was the choke job. He had Wade and  Bosh against Dallas.

mpg54
mpg54

 @m.guszak  @CyrilPlummer  @dinohealth 

I watched those games and Lebron's.  Cyril is dead on.  Name one great Center Lebron has had to deal with whiling driving to the hoop, name one.  I have plenty from the Jordan era.  Ewing, Shaq, Olajawon, Mourning, Daugherty, Robinson, and Mutombo(who wasn't great , but swatted everything in his prime).  

Jordan could cover more ground defensively than any player I've ever seen, he was a force defensively.  Lebron is not a force defensively.  He's good, but nothing like Jordan was.  Jordan would help on the Bigs in lane the fly out to the 3pt line blanket the shooters with uncanny ease.   Pippen and Jordan were amazing to watch, they choked teams with pressure, but Jordan was the leader.   Lebron doesn't do that.  

 

Jordan is also a much, much better shooter, Lebron is not in his class and although Lebron is a very good finisher, Jordan was a better finisher.  I'm not convinced Lebron gets another ring.  Prove it Lebron. 

m.guszak
m.guszak

 @CyrilPlummer  @m.guszak  @dinohealth "Powerhouse teams Phoenix, New York and Miami"? Do you have any idea what you are talking about? Miami? Jordan was "triple teamed"? I'm sorry, you really have no idea what you are talking about.

rico
rico

 @bryandepalma10  @jumpjun23 Ok, I apologize I forgot about the Dallas championship.  Yes, LeBron had Wade and Bosh but that was his freakin first  year with a rookie HC! Kobe had Karl Malone and Peyton one time and what happened to that team.  Same as well as Olajuwon, Barkley and Drexler.  Remind me again how long did it take for MJ to win a title?