Tuesday, March 17th, 2009 at 4:49 pm  |  92 responses

Top 40 Dunks: Michael Jordan vs. Kobe Bryant

No. 23 or No. 24?

The last time SLAM sat down and made an official “Greatest Dunkers of All Time” list, Kobe was No. 15 and Jordan was No. 2. But that was eight years ago.

This video doesn’t confirm or deny our assertion. It should be noted that the creator is a Kobe fan, but he’s not saying that Kobe is a better dunker than Michael or Michael is better than Kobe. He merely presents the evidence — the majority of the two’s greatest NBA dunks are here, and in good quality too — and asks, Who gave the rim more pain?

The similarities are striking, but this video highlights how drastically different the two were in the air. Kobe has more explosiveness, but Jordan has more hangtime and in-traffic pounds. You could feasibly pick any Jordan dunk to include in this list. Kobe has a smaller, but deadly, Hall of Fame. Watch the countdown and tell us: Were we right?

  • Add a Comment
  • Share
  • RSS

Tags: , , , ,

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    So stupid.

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com BETCATS

    how about Top 40 Finals Chokes of all time? Kobe 2 Jordan 0

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    “Who gave the rim more pain?” That would be Vince Carter.

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com BETCATS

    If dunking had anything to do with how great a player is, Gerald Green, Dee Brown, and James White all have a place in the HOF on lock and are all better than Mike too!

  • malanacream

    dunks are entertainment, and that’s why so many people loves NBA, otherwise everybody would like to watch european bball.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    Can we just say they both had a lot of great dunks in their careers. Naw…..too easy right?

  • a_whiteman

    mj all day, come on!!! look what he did to patrick lol

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com BETCATS

    That makes waaaaaaaaaay to much sence E.

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com BETCATS

    Kobe on Nash was a great dunk though…

  • james

    number 2 is better than number 1 by far.less technical but just… better.

  • CntrolledSbstnce

    No. You were wrong. And you left out ALOT of Jordan’s better dunks. This was one of the weaker Vids of Jordan dunks I’ve seen. Give it a rest. There is no comparison. The fact that you have that Kobe dunk (which isn’t one of his best dunks) as #1 over Jordan Over Ewing makes this entire video bogus.

  • Sparker

    given this, are we still supposed to be impressed by joe johnson crossing up leon powe?

  • http://www.kicksonfire.com Anton

    Vince Carter frowns on such shananigans

  • http://slamonline.com/ Ryne Nelson

    James is right. No. 2 and No. 1 should be switched. Other than that, I’m happy with the list. It’s one hell of a tall order to find and rank all of these dunks.

  • j-smoov 5

    Kobe, easily.

  • Michael

    How is Kobe more explosive than jordan. Thats the one thing thats very not jordan about kobe, his lack of explosiveness.

  • psycho

    i slept thru the kobe dunks. there’s only 1 mj. i was under the impression that every discusson of kobe being the next — ended last year. r.i.p.

  • Michael

    I actually agree with number 1. That behind the back move was amazing. Watching this video reminds me of how deadly Kobe used to be going baseline.

  • http://iwantoutofokc.com/ James the balla

    I love Kobe, and I love Jordan. Number 3 should be 2, number 2 should 1, number 1 should be 3. But DAMNNNN. Kobe and Jordan. Bron ain’t got nothing on the grace of these two. They are like the same player. And number 3, Kobe over Wallace. Those were his first two points. Van Exel is going nuts on the bench. That has got to be the best two points ever. Even if it is in pre-season!!!

  • Stu

    MJ no contest, come on people. interesting point dunk 14 I though Dwight H said he does not get dunked on :)

  • Sebastian B. O. Bunionstow, esq.

    MJ best ever!

  • kh

    Hey Dwight, how them nuts taste?

  • http://mindyourbusiness@getalife.com Allenp

    This is blasphemous

  • http://mindyourbusiness@getalife.com Allenp

    And Kobe was not more explosive. He was less athletic, which made it look like he was trying harder.

  • http://slamonline.com/ Ryne Nelson

    Kobe is definitely less athletic, but that double pump reverse from last season and the dunk over Josh (ooopss, Dwight) Howard were very explosive.

  • http://iwantoutofokc.com/ James the balla

    The dunk Kobe does vs. NO Hornets … was sick. I was at a training camp, right before I went to the Worlds. Sitting in a hotel room with a bunch of guys of our team. Every was cheering for NO. That was the nail in the coffin and very sweet at the time. The dunk in slow motion is just gorgeous.

  • http://iwantoutofokc.com/ James the balla

    off our team* …. everyone*

  • http://twentythreenine.blogspot.com Russ Bengtson

    Anyone who thinks Kobe was a better in-game dunker than Jordan is either very young, very stupid, or possibly both.

  • http://www2.gsb.columbia.edu/faculty/jstiglitz/ SPANOULIS

    the dunk in no-11 at just his second NBA game (the slow motion version) is one of the most gracefull bball moments i have ever seen and goes usually unoticed…strange. The dunk over Dwight is gonna be top-10 all time if Howard ends with the carrier everybody is expecting from him…

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com Moose

    Dominique Wilkins.

  • http://www2.gsb.columbia.edu/faculty/jstiglitz/ SPANOULIS

    Moose in da house!!!!!!!!!

  • Tuomas

    My initial reaction consisted mostly of *beep*s, but then I read everything again. Thank god, you sort of didn’t go there (although the creator sure did). However, I’m just gonna pretend I never saw the part where it said something about giving the rim pain. Ditto on the explosiveness. Sick vid though, and nice damage control mentioning the maker is a Kobe fan.

  • http://jamescleaton.ning.com jaymes

    Kobe’s oop from BShaw at no.10 maybe the best oop ever! …..
    No.1 is bogus..Kobe on Wallace was better..MJ on Ewing was better than both!

  • hugos boss

    the slowmo at 4:35 was the most beautifl thing i have ever senn.

  • http://antwonomous.blogspot.com Antwonomous

    Kobe wasn’t a more explosive leaper, but his dunks were more emphatic.

    In terms of athleticism, like I said, MJ was the more explosive leaper – he jumped higher, but as you all saw in this video, Kobe was very explosive too, when he was younger. But I think Kobe is a little more fluid athlete – he just has a tad bit less restriction in his movements, in my opinion.

    In terms of first step/quickness, I’d probably give MJ the edge, but not by as much as you people are going to make it seem like as you rip me to shreds for even typing an argument that compared Kobe Bryant to Michael Jordan even only somewhat favorably in any way.

  • wilz

    ya Kobe on Nash!!! the most overrated dunk ever!!! a dunk on a 6-foot white guy trying to take a good charge with his hands down..

  • http://antwonomous.blogspot.com Antwonomous

    Can Allenp explain to me his “Kobe was not more explosive. He was less athletic, which made it look like he was trying harder” theory?

    Allenp, I’m calling you out, bruh.

  • Harlem_World

    Kobe Bryant is a talented scorer, no question. But comparing him to Jordan is just silly. Jordan was a better scorer, defender, winner, overall player and for the purpose of this argument, unquestionably a better in game dunker and more explosive. Jordans first step is quicker than Kobes and he he JUMPS QUICKER than Kobe. Yes, he’s more explosive. Remember, Kobe is longer than Mike. And how in the hayell dude put that dunk as number 1 makes no basketball sense whatsoever. Both of them had better dunks in this reel than that. Plus anyone who knows anything about this game knows the dunk on Ewing on the baseline is the best in game dunk of all time. Big statement, but given the circumstances, it holds up.

  • http://jamescleaton.ning.com jaymes

    Antwonomous, dunno if Kobe is more fluid. IMO that is where MJ has him beat, oherwise, in terms of athleticism , i think they’re pretty even.
    The dunks MJ had as a youngster look faster and smoother than Kobe at his best IMO.

  • riggs

    lol @ there being 5 of the same kobe dunks

  • Andrew

    that last dunk by jordan over ewing is my second favourite dunk of all time… starks over cartwright comes in first…

  • ti-sizz

    kobe is reallly sick at reverse dunks and jordan at posters, that’s all that needs to be said… bravo… now let’s show a good d-wade dunk mix please

  • http://roger.agincourtmedia.com/ Roger Benningfield

    The thing I noticed in the video is how often Kobe uses the basket to evade the shot block. Most of MJ’s stuff seems more straight-up, going over or through the defender instead of around him.

    It also looks like Michael tended to charge right in and use sheer force to put the defense on its heels… note all the clips that show him going down the middle of the lane, surrounded by three or more people. Kobe, meanwhile, spends the vast majority of his time coming in via the baseline, using a burst of speed to get around his primary defender.

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com/ RV

    Kobe’s dunk seemed to come after he goes by guys, not wide open, but open…also like 5 or 6 of his dunks were the exact same dunk, although a great one, its repetitiv. Jordan seemed to get more full court dunks and i’m not talking fast breaks, he weaved through the first 4 guys and dunked on the 5th. On top of that, MJ had his own style, MJ takes this one.

  • Jackie Moon

    … and then Anton said something about “Colorado” or “white girls” or “Shaq”.

  • Diogo

    His behind the back against Yao was way better than #1. But I agree with most people about this: Vince puts them both to shame.

  • k.o.

    @BETCATS, your second statement shows ur age more than any nonsense i’ve ever read from u in the last several months. Gerald Green or Dee Brown better than MJ with conviction??? shut the f*ck up

  • http://www.lkz.ch Darksaber

    really? Another comparison piece? This be laaame. I have around 3-5 mambiatch dunks stored in my cranium (the behind the back 180 on Denver was nasty), BUT at least 30 great MJ dunks jump ti my mind. Please, no comparison needed

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    John Starks, Kevin Johnson, and Spudd Webb = Best undersized dunkers EVER.

  • http://www.ballislife.com Arek

    honestly, jordan definitely jumped higher but kobe’s dunking style is sicker

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBQEmmgDl9I Boing Dynasty

    Mike says: “Hey Patrick…..Arrrrrgh!”

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBQEmmgDl9I Boing Dynasty

    Also Teddy, Stevie Franchise was better then all 3 of your picks.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBQEmmgDl9I Boing Dynasty

    Hey Teddy. Steve Francis.

  • gii

    #6 is one of the best in-game dunks ever. #2 is better than #1. I remember i had that jordan stadium club card with #2 on it…

  • Fred34

    This one is actually really easy. Kobe had the best variations of hair and facial hair – known as the different Kobe looks. And Mike is the GOAT of dunking – gravity defyer extraordinaire

  • Fred34

    Personally I think Kobe’s fantastic, but on his best day he’s still Jordan lite. You just can’t outdo the originator (nod to Doc J however).

  • http://www.hibachi20.blogspot.com Hursty

    37 by Jordan was sweet. Never seen that one before. He got hit in the eye and finished over on the other side of the rim.
    27 by Kobe was also sweet. Never seen that before either. He gets both hands on the alley, even though the contact was minimal, still a great effort to get it.
    21 by Jordan is awesome cos he teabags 43 on his swing haha.
    9…what in the world is the second commenter saying on that dunk? wtf!
    2 is a better dunk that 1, don’t think anyone can argue that. ‘This is an ego problem for Patrick Ewing’ = LOL!
    Great overall video though.

  • http://www.hibachi20.blogspot.com Hursty

    @k.o- BET is talking about dunking. Green and Dee can both go from the free-throw line easily (could in Dee’s case). Green would wipe the floor with Jordan in a prime age dunk contest. More athletic, longer, taller, just as creative. Not sure about Brown however. That’s a 50/50. VC would win it all anyways, so doesn’t matter all that much.

  • http://www2.gsb.columbia.edu/faculty/jstiglitz/ SPANOULIS

    @Hursty….:Dee Brown was 6-1 my little friend,ain’t no way he could dunk from the free throw line “easily” as you said….the only guy that short i have seen dunking from the line was Conley senior (Golden Olympian at triple jump,over 8.40 personal best at long jump)and he did it without dribling the ball…best dunker in the NBA now(or at least in the top-3): Rodney Carney.

  • http://www.twitter.com/mansonovic Andy

    Best game dunker of all time? Shawn Kemp.

    I await the ridicule.

  • http://www2.gsb.columbia.edu/faculty/jstiglitz/ SPANOULIS


  • http://www.myspace.com/mcnarrative Kieran

    How come the guys used Kobes best dunks and missed out loads of Mikes best ones

  • http://www.kicksonfire.com Anton

    It’s pretty disrespectful of Mike to use LeBron’s number.

  • Oli

    i wish they had the x-mo back in jordan’s playing days… (if they had, there wouldn’t be this stupid discussion about who’s the 2nd best dunking 2-guard of all-time…)

  • a_whiteman

    wheres the jordan dunk on mutombo????

  • Mike

    VC is rolling over in his grave listening to all this nonsense…

  • truthteller

    I didn’t know VC was dead!

  • Jason

    “he finally got his dunk on Mount Mutumbo!” yea.. sadly, its missing.

  • http://slam weezyleezy

    this video is heaven

  • Jackie Moon

    James White is the best out-of-game dunker.

  • modoramal

    Having read . . . nothing here, It’s impressive to see what the essential difference is. Kobe is the better overall athlete (NBA today is even more athletic than it was 25 years ago, and it’s noticeable), but Jordan has to b the dunker because of the size of those hands, man. The hands are just so huge that nobody who could move like that could hold a ball the way Jordan could. It’s as though your average 5’8″ guy (with average 5’8″ guy hands) were holding a softball, or a mini ball or something. Absolutely crazy.

  • Naj

    The biggest difference between Kobe and MJ is that Kobe could never palm the ball like MJ. MJ had million dollar hands. It’s physically impossible for Kobe to do some of the things MJ did. MJ was more artistic, style was way better, jump higher, etc, etc. Kobe is an average dunker. His whole game is copied off MJ’s anyway. How can you imitate the greatest of all time!

  • matt (ballislife

    in reference to Naj saying Kobe’s game is copied from MJ.

    Who elses game would you want to copy besides Jordan? He is simply the greatest of all time, I would try to emulate his game as well, although we can easily say that kobe is a better 3 pt shooter. On the flip side to that though is Jordan got the 3 the old fashioned way more than anyone else in the league, the and1.

    As for dunking, Jordan is easily a better dunker than Kobe because he is just a different type of athlete. He has power, explosiveness, and style, as Kobe had some power, but no explosiveness in his jump.

    As for first steps, its easy to say that jordans first step killed every and anyone in the league, this along with his trademarked fadeaway is what made him simply impossible to guard in his later years.

    Jordan for the win….YESSSSS

  • tik

    one thing i find interesting, on his reverses, jordan would rather do a layup (ie. an up and under) than dunk it. he had so much hangtime that when he got to the other side of the rim he was really too far away from the rim to dunk. so we dont see a lot of good jordan reverse dunks, because there are not that many!

    generally, kobe doesnt have as much hangtime as mj, so he has to slam it in on his reverses (but lately hes had some pretty sick hanging reverses where he does a sort of half twist). that being said, its damn hard to slam it down off a reverse, esp. in traffic like that. i think overall, jordan had more hangtime and so did “less” in the air, kobe has less hangtime, and consequently, had to do “more” in the air. so kobe more technical, jordan more graceful. its really personal preference. ive always preferred the grace of jordans game tho, so my nod goes to him.

  • BC

    There is NO WAY Jordan smashing on Ewing is #2. Plus at least 4 of the Kobe dunks were the same baseline dunk. I enjoyed the vid until I saw MJ was #2.

  • http://www.haiku.com the action

    most of kobe’s dunks in this list are the same baseline reverse dunks.

    anyone noticed that many of these dunks are against the knicks?

  • flyinsquirl

    i definitely see the difference. Kobe is the ultimate showman. He dunks and lets you know who is the alpha male. When he attacks the basket, you can see that he only has one focus. That it will be in the highlight reel. You can see it in his face.. the pimp walk. All for the camera and the crowd. Jordan just dunks over you and gets on the next play. No pimp walks. No slow-mos. Mark of a true legend.

  • Tommy Patron

    The video is by some nerd called “Mamba somethingorother”. That behind the back dunk in a blowout is #1?

  • EJ

    mjs dunks were too repetative
    kobes dunks are spontaneous

  • jacori robinson

    theres only 3 plp dat can come close to mj in dunking. dominique wilkins,jason richardson,vince carter

  • Bulls-23-45-4ever

    you mean to tell me a dunk that faked out 3 differnt knick defenders and a nasty facial to Pat Ewing(HOF) lose out to a 1-on-1 dunk on a nobody named Yarbrough???? Ya’ll got it messed up!!!

  • Bulls-23-45-4ever

    EJ Posted: Apr.3 at 7:33 pm
    mjs dunks were too repetative
    kobes dunks are spontaneous

    no EJ Kobe just copies every dunk that Jordan ever made Kobe is just carbon copy of MJ

  • Wu

    That why I called Kobe Bryant as ” fake Air”.

  • Eric

    The biggest difference between Michael and Kobe are:
    1) Hand size. This factor highly favors Jordan and explains his “maybe seemingly” less explosive style; it means he can “float/glide” around a bit more, controlling the ball’s direction more (pumps or change of directions) or keeping it in his hands for longer. So the “less explosive” style I think is more of a visual effect than Michale actually displaying/possessing less explosiveness.
    2) Foot (and sometimes hand) ambidexterity. Off two-foot jumps, Michael almost always without fail jumps off his left foot. Kobe jumps off his right or left foot just as much. Jumping off the right foot also again gives the “illusion” of being more explosive, due to the mechanics and the physics involved. (Think Dominique Wilkins, who was also a two-foot off the right foot leaper, but almost exclusively). On a similar note, I have seen many more left-handed dunks from Kobe than from Michael.
    3) One-foot leaper. Michael is probably the best one-foot/two-foot combo leaper in the history of the NBA. There are guys like Larry Nance, Clyde Drexler, Julius Erving and Lebron James (although I would classify the latter as more of a “power” one-foot leaper than a “floater/glider” one-foot leaper like the others) who were always better one-foot leapers, while the best “mostly” two-foot leapers that come to mind include Nique, Vince Carter, Shawn Kemp and Amare.

    Just my “long” two-cents :-) Regardless though, it’s hard for me to say “who’s a better dunker”… I like ‘em both. Both Michael and Kobe have their special characteristics… I’m still a Jordan fan overall though, yet certainly NOT a Kobe-hater; what’s that all about anyways, Kobe-hating??? Don’t y’all like to watch good b-ball players perform?!?


  • Pingback: How to Jump Higher in Basketball » Blog Archive » SLAM ONLINE | » Top 40 Dunks: Michael Jordan vs. Kobe Bryant

  • Maine

    If this is a real discussion still, ya’ll cant remember Jordan. This is only a fraction of it all. Jordan used to just dunk on whoever was in the paint. He wasnt doing no baseline run by you reverse dunks. He would just go dunk over top whoever was there. Period!

  • Slam Corrector

    Kobe’s dunk over Yao was too low and I think Kobe caught 2 alley-oops that were better than some of these dunks. Oop #1 was young Kobe in the All Star game, KG threw the pass and Kobe had to reach WAY back one handed and flush it. Oop #2 was from the 08′ Olympics D-Wade falling out of bounds throws the lob and Kobe reaches up high two handed and throws it down.

    Michael’s “Ewing baseline dunk” is classic and should have been #1. Both these guys have some great dunks to choose from but like some other’s have said Michael’s explosiveness and hands gives him the dunk edge. Kobe is explosive but not like Mike.

    Best Dunkers (My Top 10)
    #1. Vince
    #2. Dr. J
    #3. Michael
    #4. Dominique
    #5. Shawn Kemp
    #6. David Thompson
    #7. Darryl Dawkins
    #8. Kobe
    #9. J-Rich
    #10 Harold Minor

  • Koco

    If u look at them in different times, u get different results. Jordan had good, cute dunks, cos he’d play with the ball doin’ little figures in the air. But if u play ball, u’d know dat it doesn’t take much for a person who jumps high and with such a huge hand to do these things. Kobe on the contrary got some sick dunks, cos they are quite risky. the dunk dat y’all say is repeated is one of the most difficult dunk to achieve, and doin’ it around people like dat takes so much confidence. Kobe is wowin’ people today, he is takin’ things to another level and dats why he gets compared to Jordan. U can say all u want about Jordan, I’m his biggest fan, but not when it comes to dunkin’. Vince Carter has taken Jordan’s lay-ups to dunks, Kemp did some amazin’ things. a good dunk is Power, moves and risk! Remember dat.

  • http://www.crazyups.com Ik

    Jordan had more of an elegance and grace about his dunks. He’s posterise a 7 footer effortlessly. It looked like he hardly broke a sweat. Kobe’s dunks are a lot more aggressive but both are still sick to watch.

    Personally I feel like my favourite dunker of all time are Shaun Kemp, not because he was the best, but he had effortless explosion…he pretty much dunked on anybody without a second thought!

  • http://youtube jojo

    michael was a teacher. kobe is a good student. think about it!

  • Sharp

    Reading this well down the line, it’s funny reading through the comments.

    Michael Jordan is the overall better athlete than Kobe Bryant, this is true. They are equals in full court speed and half court quickness (Jordan’s change of direction was better, but Kobe’s superior ballhandling/crossover made up for this in a lot of ways). Superior hands (which played a large part in making Jordan better in driving to the hoop and finishing in traffic, although Bryant is probably is equal at the mid range game, and definitely his superior from beyond the arc). Jordan was the better one footed leaper (although Kobe is no slouch in that regard). I think a Kobe in his athletic prime definitely had the athleticism to dunk from (or at least close to) the the free throw line, but couldn’t have kept control of the ball because of his difficulty palming the rock.

    They are close to equal off of a two footed leap, close enough that I couldn’t call it either way. Neither are as good off of two feet as Dominique Wilkins, at the end of the day.

    There are people who will argue that Jordan was a better three point shooter than Kobe, and use three point shooting percentages as evidence. I doubt that even Jordan, forced to give an honest opinion, would contend he was the better outside shooter than Kobe Bryant. I watched both of the gentlemen in question play the NBA game. Bryant UNQUESTIONABLY has better range, he just shots more from the outside which drives down his percentage. Bryant is also a better off balance shooter/bad shot maker than Jordan, and is only rivaled in NBA history by Larry Bird in that regard.

    As Russ (the man who was editing Slam when I first started reading it over one decade back now) said, Jordan was definitely the better dunker than Kobe at the end of the day. That is not to say Kobe isn’t an amazing dunker though. Kobe is an INCREDIBLE once in a lifetime athlete.

    Mr. Bryant is simultaneously one of the more overhyped (by his blind supporters) and underappreciated (by his blind haters) athletes in NBA history. I think more so than putting it in terms of explosiveness, I think that between the two, Jordan was better at dunking with physical contact from defenders (by virtue of those incredible hands), while Kobe is better than Mike at avoiding physical contact from the defense altogether (by exhibiting the best “Gumby-like” qualities I’ve seen from an NBA player).

    Jordan is the better player, but it’s not a joke to compare them as people try to pretend. A lot of the statistical differences can be accounted for in the differences in their career arcs/different eras. If you discount the years spent in Shaq’s shadow, the career averages are MUCH closer. Even if you subtract his first 3 seasons…the career averages are much closer. Jordan’s bigger hands and superior shot selection are what give him the superior field goal percentage (in that Michael was less willing to take contested jumpers, better able to create separation for his jump shot with age because he didn’t have knee problems, and had overall superior instincts to anyone in league history…which Kobe has openly stated in interviews).

    Either way, that’s my point. Jordan is still the GOAT, but Kobe is more than a “top 10 guard,” as Mike said a few months back. Five rings in, its very difficult for me to argue against Kobe not being a top 10 player in NBA history. Mike is the better player, but Kobe Bryant is the most fundamentally complete basketball player that I have EVER seen.

  • phil jackson

    To keep it simple Michael Jordan was the Teacher and Kobe Bryant was a dam good student.