Michael Eric Dyson told SLAM Magazine Kobe Bryant is better than Michael Jordan. You can read Dyson’s full article here, but this is a snippet:
“It’s impossible, and unnecessary, to deny Jordan’s God-like status. Jordan has no peer as the greatest commercial and cultural force the game has seen. But saying that Jordan is the greatest basketball player ever—ball dribbled on floor, ball in hoop, footwork, shot selection, discipline, work ethic and the like—well, that’s a different argument altogether. Despite the golden consensus that hugs Jordan’s head like a halo, the insistence that he’s the GOAT has always been an article of faith, an exercise in groupthink, grading on a curve, or an act of rebellious deconstruction in shaping the facts to fit one’s interpretation. Think about it: Bill Russell damn near doubled Jordan’s ring count, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar scored the most points ever, won more regular season MVPs and collected just as many titles. Why aren’t they universally proclaimed the greatest? The stubborn orthodoxy of Jordan’s singular greatness appears ripe for a paradigm shift. As the idea’s originator, Thomas Kuhn, argued, a paradigm is a theory about how the world operates, and when disconfirming evidence steals our confidence in that theory, we’ve got a crisis on our hands, which leads us, if we’re open and honest, to shift paradigms and adopt a more compelling explanation about what’s true. Here’s the truth: In most of the categories that matter, Kobe is equally as good as Jordan, and in some cases, even better.” -Michael Eric Dyson.
This is one of the most beautifully written arguments for Kobe Bryant I’ve ever read.
With that said, it’s rebuttable.
Michael Jordan was a stronger defensive player known for his stellar on-ball defense while averaging 2.3 steals per game for his career as opposed to Bryant’s 1.4.
I agree that tougher defenses alone are not a strong enough argument, but they are when you average five points more than your opponent (30 vs. 25) and shoot a higher field goal percentage(50 percent vs.45 percent) against them during the regular season. The athleticism of Bryant’s opponents should be considered, but it’s not enough to close the gap in their efficiency.
Rings are also a weak argument. Teams win championships, not individuals, and Jordan’s Bulls were much better than Bryant’s Lakers.
So let’s look at their individual playoff averages instead(rounded):
MJ: 33 ppg, 6 apg, 6 rpg, 83% FT, 49% FG(25FGA), 33% 3FG, 2 spg, 3 tpg.
KB: 26 ppg, 5 apg, 5 rpg, 82% FT, 45% FG(21FGA), 33% 3FG, 1.4 spg, 3 tpg.
I still give Jordan the edge, but Bryant deserves this conversation, as much as I often tire of it. He is truly a close second.
Well written, Mr. Dyson, but I respectfully disagree.