KEY POINTS

  • Phil Jackson reveals real differences between Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant
  • Bryant has said he's better than Jordan in one of his last TV appearances
  • Jackson thinks Bryant has advantage over Jordan in some aspects

Former Bulls and Lakers head coach Phil Jackson revealed the true differences between Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.

Even before Bryant’s untimely death, the Jordan vs. Bryant debate has always been around. In one of his last podcast appearances, Bryant addressed his difference with Jordan claiming the NBA’s GOAT competes on everything while he just competes on things he’s good at. In one of his last TV appearances, the Lakers legend even said that he’s better than Jordan.

But no other person in the world could best address the said comparisons than their former coach – Jackson.

kobe jordan Bryant and Jordan share words during the 1998 NBA All-Star Game. Photo: Reuters

According to Basketball Network, some NBA fans may not know, but Jackson actually wrote the real “differences between Jordan and Bryant.” And some of the most notable differences are:

Coachability

According to Jackson, MJ was 27 years old when he started coaching him, already a well-rounded player and person. Kobe, on the other hand, was a kid, only 21 when he started coaching him. This is the reason why Jackson concluded that Bryant was a lot more “malleable” and willing to make major changes in his game. Ultimately, Jackson described Jordan more like a brother and Kobe as a son. 

“With Michael, it was ‘Let’s do this’; with Kobe, it was ‘I want you to do this.’,” Jackson said.

Basketball skills

Players that played against Bryant all agree they never played against a player who was as skilled as him. Footwork, ball control, inside game, outside game, Bryant had every move and counter-move on the court. This is why Jackson agrees that the late NBA legend has an advantage over Jordan in this regard.

Leadership

As per Jackson, “Michael was masterful in controlling the emotional climate of the team with the power of his presence.  Kobe had a lot to go to make that claim. He talked a good game, but he’d yet to experience the cold truth of leadership in his bones, as Michael had.”

Efficiency

Undoubtedly, Jackson thinks MJ was a better, more efficient shooter than Bryant was. Basketball-Reference, Jackson was telling the truth as Jordan’s FG career average is 49.7%, while Bryant is at 44.7%. Jordan had six seasons when he averaged over 50% from the field while Bryant never reached the said mark. 

Physique

In terms of strength, imposing his will straight on, Jordan gets Jackson’s nod. The “Zen Master” described MJ as bigger and stronger than Bryant. But Bryant had more agility and flexibility which enabled him to use angles more when taking on a guy. The main conclusion here is that both players recognized where they had an advantage and developed a game that could use that advantage.