If you are a basketball fan, it’s almost guaranteed that you know of this infamous debate – Jordan vs Kobe.
Two alpha males of their respective teams, but in different generations. Their playing styles are almost identical with a few minor differences, with the same ultra-competitive mentality.
Although these two players are among the best to ever play the game, you can’t help but always wish that they were both in their primes at the same time.
Today, we will do a deep dive into each of Michael Jordan’s and Kobe Bryant’s games and pick apart the differences. Maybe in the end, we will be able to decide who was better.
- Height: 6 ft 6 in
- Wingspan: 6 ft 11.5 in
- Weight: 215 lb
- Vertical Jump: 46 in
- Height: 6 ft 6 in
- Wingspan: 6 ft 11 in
- Weight: 212 lb
- Vertical Jump: 38 in
Both Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant have similar biographies. With the same height, same wingspan, and same weight, they were both built like the typical shooting guard in the NBA. The big difference is the athleticism which is very evident from the difference in their recorded vertical jumps. Michael Jordan was known for his high jumping and dunks so this difference is something that is understandable. Kobe also had his fair share of athletic moments and dunks, but he was more dependent on his footwork and finesse, especially in the later stages of his career playing as number 24.
Jordan and Kobe’s playing styles were extremely similar. They loved playing the high post with mid-range fade-away jump shots and line drives to the basket for a dunk or layup.
Let’s look at their field goal attempts throughout their entire career.
Michael Jordan shot 24,537 field goals throughout his career, with 22,759 of them being from inside the 3-point arc. That means 92.8% of his shots were 2-pointers.
Kobe Bryant shot 26,200 shots throughout his career, with 20,654 of them being inside the 3-point arc. That means 78.8% of his shots were 2-pointers.
These statistics show how comfortable they were with attacking from inside. Whether it was mid-range jump shots, dunks, lay-ups or post moves, both Jordan and Kobe were both using the 2-point shot as a huge part of their game.
It looks like Michael Jordan was far more comfortable with 2-pointers compared to Kobe, however. He took 14% more 2 pointers than Kobe throughout his career.
This makes sense though, because Kobe was known for hitting tough 3 pointers and made this a big part of his game especially in the later stages of his career. Jordan on the other hand, did not need the 3-point shot as he was so dominant inside the arc.
Career Statistics Comparison – Averages
- 30.1 PPG
- 5.3 APG
- 6.2 RPG
- 2.3 SPG
- 0.8 BPG
- 49.7% FG%
- 32.7% 3P%
- 83.5% FT%
- 25.0 PPG
- 4.7 APG
- 1.4 SPG
- 0.5 BPG
- 44.7% FG%
- 32.9% 3P%
- 83.7% FT%
From looking specifically at career statistics, it looks like Michael Jordan had the edge on the majority of them. This particular comparison is slightly skewed however, because Kobe played for a longer period of time and had a major injury near the end of his career. In addition, Kobe Bryant came into the league from a regular public high school, whereas Michael Jordan spent three years in the NCAA college program at UNC. Michael Jordan came into the league as an experienced player with 3 years of high-level training at one of the nation’s best basketball programs.
To have a fair comparison, let’s look at their best seasons.
Kobe Bryant had his best season in 2005-2006, where he averaged:
- 35.4 PPG
- 4.5 APG
- 5.3 RPG
- 1.8 SPG
- 0.4 BPG
- 45% FG%
- 34.7 3P%
- 85% FT%
Michael Jordan had his best season in 1986-1987, where he averaged:
- 37.1 PPG
- 4.6 APG
- 5.2 RPG
- 2.9 SPG
- 1.5 BPG
- 48.2% FG%
- 18.2% 3P%
- 85.7% FT%
The statistics in their best individual seasons look a lot more similar. This is because both of these seasons were when Kobe and Jordan were the number 1 option by far. They were in similar situations where for Kobe, it was a few seasons after Shaquille O’Neal had left and he was trying to carry his team deep into the playoffs. For Jordan, it was one of his earlier seasons before the Chicago Bulls dynasty took over the East.
Nevertheless, it looks like Jordan had an edge on the defensive side of basketball while Kobe shot significantly better from the 3-pointer in comparison.
When talking about the “Greatest of All Time”, the rings is what a lot of people think about. Since Jordan and Kobe were both in similar situations, playing style, and statistics, this is a pretty fair comparison to make.
Both players had a very solid team around them as well as Phil Jackson as their coach. Both players were able to achieve incredible accolades throughout their careers as well.
Jordan, however, had 6 rings compared to Kobe’s 5. Jordan was also able to do this in a much smaller amount of time than Kobe was able to. But, there were a few differences in both their situations that can explain this difference.
Kobe was initially paired with Shaq, and had a 3-peat from 2000-2002. After this, Shaq left the Lakers and Kobe was left with no other All-Star surrounding him up until his 2008 season.
On the other hand, Jordan had many hall-of-fame players around him the entirety of the Chicago Bulls two-championship 3-peats.
Not saying that Jordan’s job was easy by any means, but the situation that Kobe had in his prime years as a basketball player were not nearly as blessed as Jordan’s were.
In terms of championships, statistics, and dominance, Jordan looks like he did have an edge against Kobe. However, there are many intangible things that Kobe had that Jordan did not. Things such as the Mamba Mentality, the drive, extreme work ethic, and dedication to his team were things that Kobe has an edge on over Jordan.
At the end of the day, people will continuously argue over who is the best player of all time. And the discussion between these two players will go on forever.