Back in 2013, Phil Jackson presented the most interesting quotes from a new book that was due out that year. The comparison between Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, two of the greatest players in history who helped the Hall of Fame coach earn all five of his Eleven Rings, is one topic on which Jackson can talk with complete authority.
Some of Jackson’s conclusions regarding the late great Kobe Bryant was unfavorable, particularly with regard to his defense, his interpersonal relationships with teammates, and his approach to the game as a whole, as detailed in the excerpt from the book below, provided by Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times.
“Jordan was also more naturally inclined to let the game come to him and not overplay his hand, whereas Kobe tends to force the action, especially when the game isn’t going his way. When his shot is off, Kobe will pound away relentlessly until his luck turns. Michael, on the other hand, would shift his attention to defense or passing or setting screens to help the team win the game.”
Bryant seemed unable to accept the validity of the historical controversy, despite the coach who oversaw every championship won by both guards making that unambiguous opinion. “The comparisons are apples to oranges,” Bryant wrote on Twitter. “Wonder what the perception would be if [Jordan] played [with Shaquille O’Neal] instead. Different roles, different career paths.” He also added that, “Michael is a great basketball player but I’m Kobe Bryant”
Jordan’s 59th birthday in February made comparisons to him a particularly hot issue in recent months. Jordan gave his opinions on Bryant and Heat forward LeBron James just before All-Star Weekend, saying that Bryant was preferable due to his advantage in championships.
“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.”