For everyone that like's Mike.


Kobe doesn't wanna be LIKE MIKE.

Suddenly, Kobe Bryant doesn't want to be compared to Michael Jordan.

"Let it go," he says. "Leave it alone."

Were it only that easy. The fact is, ballplayers don't get to decide with whom they'll be compared. The public does. The comparison that resonates is the comparison that remains. And none is more resonant — by coincidence and design — than those two America knows on a first-name basis: Michael, and his would-be successor, Kobe.

"I don't want to be compared to Michael Jordan," Bryant told Stephen A. Smith. "Let me be me."

Not an option. The idea that Bryant should be considered apart from Jordan is plainly preposterous, and now — near the conclusion of a season in which Bryant has at long last shown himself to be authentically Jordanesque — more than ever. As it happens, given Bryant's famously voracious appetite for victory and his place in basketball history, he has but one satisfactory option. Fortunately, for him at least, it's not only doable, but highly probable. Bryant needs two trophies here: one denoting a Lakers championship, and another commemorating his performance and the 2008 Finals MVP.

Kobe can be Kobe all he wants. But anything less will diminish his legacy.

Is it still necessary to itemize the basis for comparison? Kobe Bryant came of age in the age of Michael Jordan. For him to have idolized anyone else would've been setting his sights too low, a form of slumming.

Their similarities were pronounced by the time Bryant announced his sneaker deal as a high school senior in 1996. They were the same size, and played the same position the same way. Bryant mimicked the mannerisms — the shrug, the finger wag, even the way in which he cradled his first championship trophy — while mastering Jordan's real moves.

Consider the way they attack the basket, that combination of raw power and improvisational elegance. Consider the fadeaway jumper, their preferred method to create space.

Consider, most of all, what is deemed a pathology in normal men — that merciless instinct paired with a desperate need to win. A piece in Sports Illustrated recalls Bryant comparing himself to Jordan, then in his twilight with the Wizards: "There's only two real killers in this league."

Before this season, the comparison had not been a particularly flattering one for Bryant. You get the feeling that he knew this, too. Among the most egregiously unmentioned records in sports is this: Jordan played in six NBA Finals, and won the MVP in each. Even in years when he allowed other players to win the regular season MVP — guys like Charles Barkley and Karl Malone — the championship round remained his domain.

By contrast, Bryant has three championship rings, but they correspond with Shaquille O'Neal's three Finals MVP awards. You know that irks him, too.

Now he has a chance to remedy his legacy. Bryant did this season what he had never quite been able to do before: make his teammates better. It's almost as if he willed them to a higher state of basketball. Or, as Bryant himself put it, "trying to instill my DNA into the rest of the team." Wow. He says stuff like that. Last week, after laying back almost three quarters before single-handedly beating the Spurs, he said, "I can get off at any time."

Maybe you shook your head at the remark. But it's true. And now, not yet a year removed from his summer-long temper tantrum, Kobe Bryant is poised to actually challenge the unchallengeable. He may yet do things even Jordan did not.

He's still only 29. And with a victory over Boston in the Finals (and, as the best and most clutch player on either team, the series' presumptive MVP), he'll have four championships. Jordan didn't win his first until he was 28. What's more, Bryant now finds himself at the precipice of one of the greatest seasons ever — a trifecta that would include the MVP, the NBA championship and an Olympic gold medal that means more now than it did back in '92, when Jordan won a series of laughers with the Dream Team.

But Kobe Bryant says he doesn't want to be compared to Michael Jordan.

Who does he think he's kidding?

Bonus videos:

Kobe vs. Jordan

Thank FOX Sport's Mark Kriegel for the story.


Anonymous said...

One way Kobe isnt like Mike- Rather a step above Mike in one aspect...

Kobe is willing to speak out on humanitarian issues, like Darfur.

Kobe recently filmed a PSA in support of Aid Still Required speaking out for the atrocities in Darfur.

That puts Kobe in a category all his own... of great athletes willing to risk contracts and deals to be a voice of all the voiceless in the world and it is an extremely commendable and rare thing.

Check out his video at

Anonymous said...

Kobe may never reach mike's status as an nba legend. But in his own right he is a legend. If we were somehow able to substitues the two' s careers by putting kobe in chicago and mike in la, during each's playing times you may well have the same results. Fact is kobe is not on mike's level, but he is not a far drop off...