Before I start what I wanted to be the subject of this post I have received some e-mails of a most disturbing nature. Some fringe element out there (I group this element just below radical islamists, white supremacist militia groups) is claiming that Kobe Bryant is the better player than Michael Jordan. Here very quickly (or not so quickly) is why he is not:
2009 Finals MVP – 30 pts per game, 43% shooting, 7.4 assists, 5 rebounds per game, great numbers, slightly less impressive than Dwayne Wade’s stats in 2006 when he played with Shaq at his low point in his career
3 Titles early in his career when he was playing with Shaq at his peak. Kobe was Scottie Pippen-esque at this point in his career – already a great player, but not capable of winning any of those titles if not paired with the game’s most dominant big man at his peak. Shaq on the other hand could have one those 3 titles with any of the top 30 players in the league as the Robin to his Batman.
My parents conversation about Kobe:
My Dad: That Kobe is amazing
My Mom: I don’t like him.
1991 Finals – 55% from the field, 31.2 pts per game, 11.4 assists, 6.6 rebounds per game
1992 Finals – 52.8% from the field, 35.8 pts per game, 6.5 assists per game
1993 Finals – 50.8% from the field, 41.0 pts per game, 8.5 rebounds per game, 6.3 assists per game
And then we won 3 more titles after retiring for two and a half years in his prime.
If he had played with a Shaq caliber player during his most explosive time (mid 1980s) and had not retired he would have 8-12 titles.
He scored 50 pts at the age of 39 and is the only 40 year old to ever score 40+ points in an NBA game (after his second retirement).
My parents conversation about MJ:
My Dad: Wow Michael Shordan (that is how pops pronounces it) is amazing!
My Mom: Shut the fu-k up!
I think the evidence is clear that based on stats, facts, our collective gut instinct and my Mom’s visceral reaction to the Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley and Karl Malone killer that he is the superior player and actually appears likable compared to Kobe. There is only one player on the horizon who may supplant MJ and that is LeBron James, simply because LeBron’s physicality is the the first to transcend NBA generational evolution since… Michael Jordan.
But I will give Kobe and the Lakers credit – they gave me something to watch. Like Armand Assante said in the terrible HBO film Gotti, “They’ll miss John Gotti when I’m gone.” That is how I feel about Kobe right now – I watched him hoping he’d lose, sort of like my own reality show, that was actual real, instead of manufactured for the consumption of dumb people. I even caught some of the Stanley Cup Finals Game 7, which is right up there with Big Foot with regard to the frequency with which I have seen it.
But now we are in the Summer of 2009 – no Olympics, no World Cup, no more basketball, a month until Wimbledon, no more hockey. So what are we left with – America’s corporate pastime, baseball, Major League Soccer and the WNBA. I am even afraid to watch one of my favorite shows, Pardon The Interruption, because I feel like sports have nothing right now. So if you have any sports ideas for the Summer let me know. Although my entire Summer of road gigs will probably revolve around doing comedy in minor league baseball team towns so maybe I can learn to appreciate the feature acts of sports as I feature at clubs.