Kobe Bryant vs. Michael Jordan argument is no longer heresy

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By Mike Wise
Monday, May 31, 2010

PHOENIX

If we're going to have the conversation, we might as well go to one of the primary sources, no?

Greatest of all time, you or Michael?

"That's hard for me," Kobe Bryant said, walking to another team bus after another virtuoso performance in late May. "I'm still young. Our careers are so different."

But what if you win a championship this season and one or two more rings before you retire? That would equal or surpass Michael Jordan's haul of titles. Don't we have to start talking about it?

"You can, but I don't know if it's fair to anyone," Kobe said. "I mean, I came off the bench early in my career. We had such different beginnings, you know? And then I played with a much different team about halfway through my career. You almost have to judge my career in two phases."

He's right.

There was Kobe With Shaq and Kobe Without Shaq; Michael always had Scottie Pippen.

Kobe came straight from high school; Michael stayed three years at North Carolina. Kobe is working on his fifth title at 31 years old; Michael didn't win his fifth until he was 34 years old.

Yet for the bulk of their careers, they both also had Phil Jackson, the greatest coach in the game.

"He's comparable [to Jordan]," Jackson said of Bryant on Saturday night in the desert outside the coach's room at U.S. Airways Arena. "He's got the same drive and determination."


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