Who truly is the GOAT (Greatest of All Time)?
When it comes to deciding who the greatest ball player ever is, there are a variety of clashing views. Your opinion on the GOAT is highly dependent on what era you grew up in. If you grew up in the 50’s, you’re taking Bill Russell without a doubt. If you grew up in the 70’s, you’re sure it’s Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, no questions asked. Since I’m a 90’s baby, only two players are in serious contention for the GOAT, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. While they share many striking similarities, there are a small amount differences that make Michael Jordan the greatest to ever play the game.
Both Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan share an unmatched highly competitive nature. Whether it be shooting hoops, playing golf, or even gambling, Kobe and Michael wanted to win and be the best at everything they did. While in high school, Kobe Bryant would force teammates to stay hours after practice and play him one on up to 100 points. Kobe was a guaranteed NBA first round pick, while most of these kids didn’t even have the skill to play college ball. So did Kobe go easy on them? Not for a second, as no opponent has ever scored over 9 points on Kobe. Same went for Michael Jordan. Even at age 43, Jordan’s competitive nature hasn’t died out. At his annual camp, Jordan hosts some of the top high school athletes and trains them. OJ Mayo, who at the time was the number 1 prospect in the nation, felt that he could beat the aging Michael Jordan an personally let him know. What did Jordan do? Stopped the camp, had everybody watch, and played OJ one on one. Even at age 43, it wasn’t even close, Jordan embarrassed him.
While they are both extremely competitive, what made Jordan a better player than Kobe were his natural gifts. While both are 6’6, Kobe has a vertical leap of 38 inches, while Jordan’s was 48 inches. Jordan was extremely athletic, and although Kobe was a decent athlete, not nearly athletic as Jordan was. Also, former coach Phil Jackson, who coached both Kobe and Jordan in the prime of their careers, stated Jordan’s main advantage was his hands. Jordan has huge hands, while Kobe’s hands are not nearly as impressive. So, how was Kobe able to even to be in the same conversation as Jordan without the physical gifts? Plain and simple, Kobe Bryant is one of the hardest workers the game has ever seen. He sleeps 4 hours a night and there are countless stories of unhuman-like dedication to his craft. Phil Jackson says while Jordan had a great work ethic, it was not nearly as great as Kobe’s.
While both Jordan and Kobe are among the top 3 NBA players of all time and both share an extremely competitive nature, Jordan’s physical gifts put him over the top. Jordan only played 16 years in the NBA while Kobe has played 19, and is still looking to play at least another year. While Michael Jordan has won 6 NBA championships, Kobe Bryant is still trying to chase Michael and win that 6th. Whether he gets it or not, Kobe Bryant has had a great career, as just this year he surpassed his idol, Michael Jordan, in points scored.