The Washington Post

Michael Jordan: I’ll take Kobe Bryant over LeBron James

It only seems as if LeBron James is playing keepaway from the rest of the NBA. (Sue Ogronki / AP

Kobe or the King? Who ya got?

Michael Jordan knows which NBA player he’d take if given the choice between Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. It’s Kobe, diamond-ring-wearing hands down.

“If you had to pick between the two, that would be a tough choice, but five beats one every time I look at it,” Jordan said of the Los Angeles Lakers star’s five NBA championship rings in an NBA TV interview. “And not that [James, who has only one] won’t get five. He may get more than that, but five is bigger than one.”

Know what beats five? Six…which just happens to be how many Jordan has. He’s sending a message to both players, even after a stretch of play by James that had people comparing him to MJ. Jordan pointed out that there could have been more titles for his Chicago Bulls, had he not absented himself from hoops for a spell in the 1990s. “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.”

As for James, his historic run ended Thursday night, but James has won only one title with the Miami Heat. Before he went out and demolished the Oklahoma City Thunder 110-100, he admitted as much (via Yahoo).

“It doesn’t matter to me. If you take Kobe one and I go second, it doesn’t matter,” James said. “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.”

His run set off a string of comparisons with Jordan earlier in the week, with James tweeting “I’m not MJ. I’m LJ.” He fell one missed three-pointer of extending his remarkable streak against the Thunder, scoring 39 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. But the missed shot ended his NBA record-setting run of six games with at least 30 points and 60 percent shooting.

“It didn’t bother me during the game, if I was shooting 60 percent or not,” James said. “I just go out and play my game, and that was the result of it. It didn’t bother me and it didn’t matter if I got it tonight or not. … To win is what it’s all about.”

Now that sounds Bryantesque. And Jordanesque, for that matter. He’s got them both in his sights, SI’s Ben Golliver writes:

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.

Follow @CindyBoren on Twitter and on Facebook.


“I’m not MJ. I’m LJ”

LJ raises his game

MJ gets his 50th SI cover

Kobe reaches 30,000, has MJ in his sights


After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.



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Cindy Boren · February 15, 2013