Now that one of the craziest off-seasons in NBA history has come to a sudden halt, of course until Kyrie Irving gets traded to the shameless Knicks because he is somehow tired of going to the NBA finals every year. But besides the man that thinks the earth is flat, the NBA needs to stay relevant and who better to keep the NBA off-season talk churning than Michael Jordan.
Just the other day at MJ’s flight school camp in Santa Barbara, CA, a camper asked if he would rank LeBron over Kobe. Jordan’s answer, “NO.” As simple as that. He then went onto say, “there’s something about 5 that beats 3.”
Now if the greatest player to play the game of basketball says Kobe is better than LeBron, than we must agree right? Well, take his opinions with a grain of salt because LeBron’s career is not over just yet, unless Gordon Hayward becomes the super hero we all hope he will be in Boston and can lead us to the finals every year instead of LeBron. But don’t get your hopes up Celtics fans. The Cavs still have the big 3 that absolutely demolished the Celtics in the playoffs last year. The point is that LeBron will have a few more great chances at chasing down 2 or more rings.
Jordan chose Kobe over LeBron because of championships, which is what most athletes are remembered for. If we look passed the rings, does LeBron go down as a better player than Kobe?
We all know Kobe has 5 championships opposed to LeBron’s 3. Kobe has more all-star selections (18) than LeBron’s current 13. More importantly though, LeBron has won 4 MVPs to Kobe’s 1. People will argue who was better defensively, but Kobe’s 12 all-defensive selections doubles LeBron’s 6. Kobe is a 2-time scoring leader in the league, a feat that LeBron has garnished once himself. Looking at career points per game, LeBron averages 27.1 to Kobe’s 25.0. But you always have to take that 25 from Kobe with a grain of salt because the drop off he faced at the end of his career effects that number. LeBron also has the advantage in rebounds per game (7.3) and assists per game (7.0). We all know Kobe didn’t pass much, but his career assists per game is a modest 4.7, which isn’t too bad for a pure shooting guard. A stat that many people will look at to compare the two all-time greats is total points for their career. Kobe finished his career with 33,643 points, good enough for 3rd-most all-time behind Kareem and the Mailman, Karl Malone. LeBron is currently at 28,787 points for his career, and with years left, there’s a good possibility he ends up around Kobe. As far as field goal percentage, LeBron leads in that category with .501, with Kobe sitting at .447.
Now for the important stat. Playoff points per game, where the points mean more because there’s more on the line. LeBron has averaged 28.4 points per game throughout his career in the playoffs. Kobe averaged 25.6. You can say that Kobe didn’t need to score early in his playoff career because he was teammates with Shaq, who was very dominant himself. But the same could be said when LeBron went off to Miami and didn’t need to handle the scoring by himself. LeBron also currently has 3 Finals MVPs (8 appearances) to Kobe’s 2 (7 appearances). Kobe takes the advantage when it comes to record in the finals. Kobe had a 5-2 record when playing for championships. LeBron has been criticized for his record, which is at 3-5.
After looking through these stats, some would say Lebron has Kobe beat. He averages more per game in the playoffs, which is when it counts. He shoots a better percentage from the floor. He has won 3 more regular season MVP’s and has 1 more finals MVP to his name. All those accolades mean something to you personally, but what all athletes are remembered for is how many titles they won. Kobe has 5 and Lebron has 3, just like MJ told us. Lebron still has years to go in the NBA to catch Kobe and maybe even catch Jordan. But for now the GOAT of basketball will take 5 over 3.