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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Similarities Between Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan

Kobe Bryant's late career postseason productivity--particularly from 2008-10 when the L.A. Lakers won three Western Conference titles and two NBA championships--is very comparable with Michael Jordan's 1996-98 playoff performances during the Bulls' second three-peat but overall I rank Jordan ahead of Bryant in pro basketball's Pantheon: Jordan had a better postup and midrange game and his larger hands enabled him to be a superior ballhandler and provided Jordan more finishing options in traffic. However, it is obvious that the two players are very similar both stylistically and in terms of their productivity; Bryant has far exceeded the accomplishments of the various other so-called "Heir Jordans" that the media attempted to elevate, ranging from the sublime (perennial All-Stars Grant Hill, Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady) to the ridiculous (the inaptly nicknamed Harold "Baby Jordan" Miner).

While going through old files I discovered previously unpublished notes that I made regarding an interesting on air discussion in 2008 between TNT commentators Reggie Miller and Mike Fratello about similarities between Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan.

Miller cited four things that Bryant and Jordan have in common:
  1. Balance. "They always come to a two foot jump stop."
  2. Technique. "The ability to attack defenders going in either direction--rocker moves, pump fakes."
  3. Agility. Miller said that both players can immediately contort their bodies on the fly to counter whatever the defense does.
  4. Heart. "Finish in traffic, take the contact, make the impossible possible."
Fratello added that both players could create space to get off a shot, a skill that Fratello said is "so key to being a star in this league."

Balance, technique, agility, heart and the ability to create a shot are not traits that can be quantified but Miller and Fratello are correct that these five characteristics link Jordan and Bryant while also separating them from most other players.

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posted by David Friedman @ 2:11 AM

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