The basketball-watching world will never stop trying to figure out who the next Michael Jordan is. Though most reasonable folks know that person doesn’t exist, it won’t stop them from trying.
Phil Jackson coached MJ, and now coaches the guy who a lot of people have compared to Mike in terms of ability, killer instinct, and above all else, winning.
According to the Zen Master, though, there’s no point trying to measure anyone against Michael Jordan. He’s in a category all to his own.
From the LA Times:
“Kobe has patterned himself after Michael, and there are a lot of identical things there, but it’s one thing to hope to be like him, it’s another thing to be like him.” So when Jackson’s next book comes out, and it will, will Jackson reveal who he thinks was best — Jordan or Bryant?
“We have to take Michael Jordan out of the equation. Stop comparing anyone to Michael Jordan. It’s just not fair. He was remarkable. Kobe’s in his own sphere. He doesn’t shoot the same percentage [.455] as Michael [.497]. He has the same characteristics as Michael, but he’s not the same player. It takes nothing away from him — he’s a great player in his own right.”
Jackson then tells a story about Jordan playing 27 holes of golf before a playoff game against Miami — in which he scored 56 points. “He had this unbelievable amount of energy that I’ve never seen anybody have,” says Jackson, who wasn’t thrilled with Kobe’s late-night extra practice in Miami. “We’d play three games in four nights on the road and he’d be better the third night than the first. Remarkable.”
Of course, the Jordan/Kobe comparisons will continue to rage on until the end of time, despite the futility of such an exercise.
And should Bryant’s Lakers manage to successfully defend their title this summer, giving Kobe and MJ six championships apiece, even fewer people will heed Phil Jackson’s sage advice.