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Tuesday, June 1st, 2010 at 10:37 am  |  140 responses

Kobe: The MVP That Matters

Playoff time is his time.

by Johnny Nguyen

You cannot say “MVP” without recognizing LeBron James, who currently holds back to back MVP titles. LeBron, in the last two years, has single handedly carried his team to close out the regular season with more than 60+ wins. Topping off Lebron’s list of accomplishments is the Cleveland Cavaliers appearance in the 2007 NBA Finals; the franchise’s first and only title appearance. But if we were to judge James on those criteria, then we must also past judgment on King’s performance in the Playoffs. Quite simply, James has experienced a downward trend when it comes to performing in the postseason.

Let’s begin with LeBron being swept in the 2007 NBA finals. The following year, he failed to allow his team to the even compete for a championship, falling victim to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals. And now he’s lost in the second round of the Playoffs two straight seasons. This downward trend does not appear to be going up any time soon with LeBron’s contract ending, engaging in the most exciting free agent chase in NBA history. It’s unlikely that LeBron will stay in the city of Cleveland as his dreams of winning an NBA Chip is, yet again, put at bay.

Meanwhile, even those who rant about Kobe Bryant being overrated cannot say anything about his performances in the Playoffs. Some may discredit his first three rings giving Shaq the majority of the share holds. Others may criticize his lack of assists in a game questioning his overall leadership. And then there are those who are willing to go as far as to settle arguments with an attack on Kobe’s personal track record. Whatever the criticism may be, very few can deny that Kobe is undoubtedly the most valuable player to have in the NBA Playoffs, and therefore the most valuable player in the game.

It isn’t a coincidence that Kobe Bryant has participated in the last three NBA Finals and currently holds the 2009 Finals MVP Trophy in his living room. With his relentless consistency, commitment to playing both ends of the floor, and his continued leadership, Kobe’s game speaks for itself. Many fail to recognize his attention of details, his implementation of strategy, and his patience with execution. All of this provides an open opportunity for him to win his fifth NBA Championship ring this year.

The Playoffs are not something that is going to be won off luck; night-in and night-out against the same team often require a certain mental capacity. It will separate who will advance from those that will go home. The Playoffs are game of strict strategy. It resembles a game of poker. You cannot play every hand. If you choose to, most of the opponents will stop betting against you. This may seem effective in the short run but it takes lightens the impact of what you could have potentially made with one good hand. Kobe, in Spike Lee’s Documentary dissecting Kobe’s thought process, is recorded saying “I will have the shot later in the game; I rather use it in a time where my team needs it.”

This simple quote reflects his patience to strategically attack his opponents where it will be cause the most damage, such as a game-winning shot. Contrary to popular belief, poker is not so much a game of cards as it is a game of psychology. You’re opponent may have the best hand possible, but you can minimize the impact it has on your stack of chips by the amount of money you choose to invest. LeBron is by far the most effective player in the League according to statistics, and it normally takes more than one person to guard him. You are not going to stop LeBron’s numbers. He can get a triple double pretty much any night. However, you can minimize his blows through help defense, frustrating him in the lane, forcing him to take difficult shots, and stopping his overall momentum. These demoralizing tactics can take a toll on even the most effective player, as we witnessed in the Celtics-Cavaliers series.

Going back to the poker analogy, it is a game where the last player with the chips is considered the victor. The amount of hands you win do not add value. The statistics are irrelevant: The triple doubles, the highlights, the buzzer beaters, even the amount of games you win don’t matter if you don’t win the one that allows you to advance to the next round.

Really, the only thing that matters is who walks away with the chips or in this case the Chip.

(I think the Puppets campaign explained this last year, and Kobe only had three at that point…):

 

Johnny Nguyen is a basketball fan and sneakerhead who you may remember reading about on this site last fall when we profiled the store he and two friends opened in Saugus, MA. You can re-read that story here, and then go to foottraffik.com for more.

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  • Nate

    1st

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    Thanks Johnny.

  • roman

    Who cares about regular season MVP- they play for the playoffs and championships, not regular season accolades.

  • Kap

    I was reading an article on sports illustrated website about the only thing stopping Kobe from being the greatest is public perception. What disgusted me was the comments fans left about him as a person and comments about his family. As fans, I think people often go to far when they dislike a player on the court who they do not actually know. I just hope some people gain some decency and cut back on some of that crap.

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

    If the Lakers lose again in the Finals, does all this nonsensical rhetoric go away again? Or you know, his exactlyone Finals MVP is head and shoulders above so many other legends in NBA history…oh wait, that must be hate!

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

    Actually it would be better if the Lakers won and Pau got the MVP.

  • Kap

    ^It always goes away as soon as the season starts. Its like the media shoots everyone with one of those Men in Black things to make everyone believe Lebron is the best.

  • http://www.pablasso.com pablasso

    @Eboy: for all we care fish could get the MVP, we just want another banner in LA

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

    pablasso is a smart Lakers fan. That’s not being sarcastic.

  • T-Money

    I’m baffled that people are really comparing Kobe to MJ. It’s insane. That implies that he is a legit #2 on the all-time list. Top 10, sure.

  • http://www.slamonline.com/ Myles Brown

    No it doesn’t. It can also imply that he’s the second best player to play his position. Which he arguably is.

  • truthteller

    Myles brown, Kobe being the 2nd best shooting guard ever is not arguable! That’s unarguable!

  • truthteller

    @ Eboy: if the lakers win a championship this year does that mean that you stop spewing all the hate and nonsense that you’ve been known for on this site?

  • T-Money

    Myles: correct, you couls say he’s the number 2 off-guard. But people Mike Wise of WaPo or Jemele Hill are saying that he would take over MJ with a ring this month. That’s kinda crazy.

  • James

    im not one to go at other commenters but i really wished eboy would stop his laker bashing. like dude seriously more than half of the time you sound like a dumbass when ever youre hating. why dont you just not read the article if its saying good things about Kobe instead of always having to give your lame two cents

  • jumpman3224

    As a Laker fan, I just hope they can band together and win this thing. We can worry about the legacy aspect and all of that after. Truth be told he has taken, his team to the finals in 7 of his 12 years as a starter (3, maybe 4 times as the man). That is unreal.If the Lakers win, I could care less who wins MVP. Kobe’s career path is significantly different than any other top 10 all time great. And, I think that his contributions to the 3-Peat teams go undervalued by haters. Truth be told Kobe has the finals to continue to build a legacy and years to go after that.

  • http://www.slamonline.com/ Myles Brown

    He needs to threepeat to even begin that discussion again. And he’d have a solid argument.

  • Nashty

    If Kobe wins this one, then he is the best 2guard of all time in my book.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    With a three peat he’d had a solid argument
    Without it, nothing, sorry. I know that seems unfair, but it is what it is.
    And Kobe is a better scorer than Lebron and it’s not even close. Kobe is a technician who knows how to attack almost any defense and has the skillset to get shots against just about everybody.
    Lebron is a amazing offensive talent whose passing is incredible and whose physical gifts make him a beast on the offensive end. Unfortunately, he does not have the same technical base that Kobe has, and that cause problems in the playoffs when teams decide to focus on limiting his scoring and force his teammates to prove they can do their thing.
    I truly believe that it all depends on the situation and the night their playing when you consider who is better out of Lebron, Wade and Kobe.

  • truthteller

    myles: No he wouldn’t because people would still hate! Don’t you get it? Even if Kobe won 8 more titles and broke every record in the NBA, people would still find something to say that would discredit him fromo the being better then MJ! That’s what the article on MSNBC and SI was saying. he isn’t as revered as MJ was and still is so he can never do right by fans!

  • T-Money

    These playoffs made me change my stance on Kob’s future though. I thought he would have been more affected by the decline of his athletic abilities. He can still get his with a ground game. The shots the defense wants him to take are the shots he practices, which makes him unguardable when he’s on (and results in 9 for 27 nights when he’s off too). But he’s been on and rested. The only thing that could stop him (and very well might) in his old age is heatlh.

  • aquemini

    the cavs were ousted in the eastern conference finals last year, the second round in 2008 and 2010. just to correct things.

  • James

    i dont think its even fair to compare kobe n mj. im not saying kobe is better than mj but we gotta realize that kobe is still dominating the nba while we watch his body n athletic abilites decline right before our eyes. when jordan retired from the bulls (the 2nd time) he retired on top of his game we never really got to see what jordan could once he started losing athletic ability. well we did with his wizards run but that doesnt really count lol. and i think theres a lot more talent in the nba in our era then there was in the jordan/bulls era. but i dontt know kobe and mj play so similar i think ppl will always have mj greater than kobe just off of the fact that mj is basically the originator of the way kobe plays

  • http://lastknickstanding.blogspot.com Bryan

    Kobe isn’t on Mike’s level yet but he is only 31 and has a legit shot of making a more solid case.

  • T-Money

    How is it hate to say that MJ is a better basketball player than Kobe?! Some of the Kobe fanboys are straight tripping. Mike averaged more points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks for his career. And he was a better defender. And he won 6 championships as a go-to-guy (and let’s be real, it could have been 8 straight if had not picked up a baseball bat). That’s not hate at all. I would find it equally ridiculous to compare any current or past basketball player to Mike. Wilt had the talent but not the same winning mentality. Kareem was not as driven. Russell is not skilled enough to be considered greatest ever. And he clearly demonstrated that he was better than Magic and Bird. Kobe (and every other current baller) has to go through all of these people before sniffing MJ.

  • truthteller

    bryan: I think Kobe bryant is on MJ’s level. Please prove to me how he’s not! (Let’s settle this once and for all)

  • Roc

    The truest test of a player’s greatness comes in the playoffs. What can they do on the ultimate stage? That’s why Tim Duncan>Karl Malone. As for LeBron: if he does so much on the court, why can’t he win even 3 games against Orlando, or the Celtics in the playoffs? Hubie Brown said on ESPN radio after game 6 on Saturday that Kobe is the best player in the league because his execution down the strech of big games is unparalleled. LeBron is the King alright…The King of the Regular Season.

  • truthteller

    That’s funny because Hubie Brown also said that Lebron was the best player he had ever seen! Kobe keeps making these haters look stupid and I love it!!!

  • http://lastknickstanding.blogspot.com Bryan

    its not the numbers, Kobe would destroy the likes of Danny Ainge and some other guards in the 80′s. at the time Mike was a once in a generation type athlete so the numbers dont sell me. What gets me about Mike was his patience, he almost never forced things. He was moody but in a different way than Kobe is.

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

    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^Case(s) in point as to why I continue to write Laker hate here.

  • http://lastknickstanding.blogspot.com Bryan

    Eboy i was picking mike over kobe?

  • http://lastknickstanding.blogspot.com Bryan

    Kobe is a better ball handler and has better range.. everything else goes to Mike.

  • http://double-technical.blogspot.com Zee!

    Eboy, go to youtube and watch some Heat/Mavs Finals footage, and take a nap please.

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

    I was not referring to you Shia, and Zee…zip Kobe’s jeans back up and stand up like a man.

  • Johnny Nguyen

    appreciate the opportunity Ben.

  • http://www,myczechrepublic.com SAB

    i didn’t like a couple of things about the article, ramming opinions down my throat… LeBron with that supporting roster would be very very dangerous too, so i don’t like this “very few can deny that Kobe is undoubtedly the most valuable player to have in the NBA Playoffs”. on the flipside, Kobe has vastly out-performed LeBron in these playoffs. he’s so good to watch. f*** all those who said he was too old – he’s still at the top level! and if Slamonline did another “top 50″ thing for next season, it would be outrageous and unfathomable for LeBron to be 1 and Kobe 2.

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com DP

    i agree that if LA loses this series, all the kobe praise means nothing. But if they do win, I want to see everyone who hates kobe just to shut the f*ck up. and yes I’m calling it hating because if you look at his numbers of late, if you just come on here to bash him, you are a freakin idiot. The hate can come IF LA loses the finals. Until then, respect what this man has been doing. play wit it.

  • Kap

    My only problem is everyone is so quick to not only say lebron is the best player on the planet but soon to be the greatest of all time because of stats and him dominating in a weaker conference with only three good teams. However, there is always an excuse for why kobe did something remarkable. Like when he scored 81, people said he had no assists. If you have f*ckin 81 you get a pass in my book for not having any assists. Then they say he wasnt the best on the 3peat but people never acknowledge Magic played with Kareem. It was only a few weeks ago when people on ESPN were saying Lebron is going down as the greatest of all time and no one had a problem with that. That’s pretty weird for a guy who only puts up stats and nothing else.

  • Lz – Cphfinest3

    Lakers’ fans always bring out the ‘Finals MVP is the only real MVP’ arguement in the Kobe-LeBron debate. So when discussing Mike-Kobe please Laker-fans consider the same argument; Kobe has particpated in 6 (soon to be 7 Finals series) and has (rightly so) only been judged to be the best player in ONE of those series, Mike was 6 out of 6, and it was never even debated – case closed. I agree with Bryan’s 12:54 post, Kobe has better range and (slightly) better ballhandling, but Mike has everything else on Kobe and was a far far better defensive player. Kobe the defender is way overrated, because he for popularity reasons have been named to a bunch og all-defensive teams. He has never been a real stopper, never been DPOY, never lead the league in steals. Mike was/did all these things and was a real stopper (jusk ask Drexler). To whoever who said that the talent is better in the league these days, well the rules have been changed to such effect that physical play and handchecking has been replaced by ticky-tack fouls, superstar-treatment, and speed being unguardable (see the rise of all fast PG’s, Tony Parker could never have been a Finals MVP in the mid 90′ies). Mike got his in an era where the Knicks and Pistons was putting the hammer down, Kobe is getting his in an era where rasing your voice when stripped is an automatic foul. The Kobe-Mike debate is not nearly as close as people think. Kobe is a great player, 2nd best 2-guard for sure, top 10 all-time easily. But even as hard as he tries he is no Mike. Celtics will win in 7, and the only tune Kobe will be humming is ‘like Mike if I could be like Mike’.

  • Joon

    First of all, how did this thing even turned into a MJ vs Kobe thing again? Its been years man..get over it…who cares who’s better..its just bloody enjoyable to watch Kobe play right now..that’s all I’m saying.

    MJ and Kobe are both really great players who dominate the game at whatever state it was/is in. I just find it silly to compare both players because its like saying Alexander the great was better than Caesar or vice versa. Both were great and respectable in what they do and I think we should just leave it at that.

  • Lz – Cphfinest3

    Joon; discussing greatness in sports will always be about making comparisons. We could all sit around the camp-fire, hold hands and agreeingly sing about the greatness of Kobe, Mike, LeBron, etc. But really how interesting would that be? It goes without saying that we all enjoy watching these players play, otherwise we wouldn’t be on here using our time discussing their greatness.

  • http://double-technical.blogspot.com Zee!

    Eboy, soon as you admit you gave D Wade his STD and not Siovaughn.

  • Kap

    @ Lz…You make no valid point & steals don’t make you a great defender. I want people who actually played bball to understand how tough it is in the last five minutes of all close games to just become unstoppable and get hot on demand with the defense centered to stop you. I want people to realize that when Kobe “commits” to D, he is a great defender. Kobe is more skilled than Jordan but he has not accomplished what MJ did in a watered down league before Duncan, Garnett, Wade, Bron, and a mature Shaq came around. Kobe is definitely a better shooter, passer (when he wants to), handler, and tough shot maker than Jordan and may even be more clutch. Until Kobe gets 7 rings, Jordan will be the greatest though.

  • T-Money

    Oh my, so some people actually do believe Kobe is on MJ’s level… Wow. / Bryan, saying that Kobe would have killed Danny Ainge is like saying Jordan would run trains on JR Smith. A bad defender is a bad defender. And I don’t really know why people seem to think that the above the rim game started in the OOs. Watch some early tapes from Barkley, Kemp, Drexler, Malone, Dream, D-Rob, Shaq, MJ, Pip, G-Hill, Dominique, Skywalker, Miner, etc. Dudes could get up in the early 90s! The only two specimen that are truly getting up at a level we had not seen yet are Bron and Vince. That’s it. Everything else has been see before.

  • chingy

    Cosign Joon. It is IMPOSSIBLE to compare players from different eras. The rules, opponents, technology/science, etc. are so different.

  • Kap

    @ t-money…Vince is in a class by himself when it comes to dunking, Lebron isnt even a better dunker than Josh Smith

  • http://brimartin13@gmail.com Brion

    It kinda sucks Magic isnt in the conversation,I understand how great Kobe is, but could he step in at CENTER as a rookie and dominate the likes of a Moses Malone like Magic did? Just saying.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Kap
    Your writing is pap.
    You talk about Kobe becoming unstoppable in the final seconds of the game like that was Jordan’s M.O. That’s what Mike did! That’s how the fist pump became part of the NBA. Hell, Jordan was so clutch they made commericals about the times he FAILED.
    Now, I’ve been saying for a while that Kobe is a better ball handler and he has better range, and those are the only two areas he has Mike clearly beat. I think Jordan was a better defender early in his career, but as the years went on, Mike was known to take quite a bit of time off on defense, something Tex Winter complained about. Also, we saw Mike slow down by the end of the third three peat, as him going 9 for 27 was not uncommon.
    I think Mike was just so smart and that is the main thing he has over Kobe. It’s not about skills because the two men are extremely close as far as skills, but Mike clearly has the mental edge. He wasn’t trying to establish his place in history every game. He was just trying to dominate whoever was in front of him for as long as he could do it. Kobe has always seemed to have an eye on his legacy, which I felt Mike lacked in many ways. He just wanted to be the undisupted best of his generation, and he figured the rest would take care of itself.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Bryan
    Kobe couldn’t have done what Magic did, but let’s be honest. he wasn’t REALLY playing center. Yeah, he jumped the tip, but after that he ran like point/center.

  • jdn41

    johnny NGUYEN mad props to slam having vietnamese writers you guys just got a lot cooler

  • Kap

    @ Allenp…well I think ur writing is pointless also but to my point, MJ wasn’t constantly being compared to someone during his career. Plus I never said Kobe > Jordan, I only said he was more skilled.

  • http://stapledesign.com Spaceship Jay

    Co-sign Kap, to a certain extent. I don’t understand the anger towards someone else’s opinion. Debates are cool, but the anger… It’s weird to me.

  • http://deleted KH10

    Do any of you guys remember that Kobe and Mike actually played against each other? its not like they were form totally different eras.
    In my mind, Kobe is the closest thing to MJ but isnt the same defensive presence, and no one has played with the same aggressive killer instinct as Mike, no matter how much they may jut out theyre lower jaw.

  • http://stapledesign.com Spaceship Jay

    Media perception and what AllenP stated about legacy are perhaps the 2 biggest things he’ll have over Kobe. Mike had the hearts and minds of everyone; the refs, his opponents, everyone. A part of that kind of makes me want to give even more credit to Kobe because he still does it without being that media-darling. If Kobe would never had caught that case, where would he be? Where would we be as fans of the game?

  • Lz – Cphfinest3

    Kap; I think the Finals MVP count is as valid a point as one could make, wouldn’t you agree? After all the Finals MVP is the one way of measuring the best player/performer on the biggest stage. Like you said when Kobe ‘commits’ to D he is great, true I agree. The difference being that Mike never had to ‘commit’ to D, he was always locked in on D, never took plays of, and took it very personal when people scored on him. Kobe, like you insinuates picks and chooses his spots for when to play D. If you really know BBall, then you would know that D is all about effort. Mike’s effort on D was much better than Kobe’s as well as his physical tools being better; stronger, jumped higher, quicker (that might be a tie?), longer arms. Steals doesn’t determine whether you are a great defender, but it is still the best defensive play possible; creating a turnover, often leading to fast break points. So when you make 2-3 a game it haves an impact.
    You are calling the 90′s watered down? get real the competition was much tougher than the opposition Kobe played. Mike won his rings against; Magic, Drexler and a great Blazers team, Barkley and the Suns, a great Supersonics team, and two times against Utah arguably the best team never to win a ring featuring hall of famers Stockton and Malone. Kobe won his rings against; Allen Iverson and one of the worst teams ever to make the playoffs, the Nets (the Nets for crying out loud), and a Pacers team that had seen better days, and lastly against a Magic team which best offensive player was Hedo Turkoglu, both times when Kobe faced quality opposition (Pistons and Celtics) he lost. If Kobe is such a great passer (when he wants to) must mean that his basketball IQ is lower than Mike’s since Mike always averaged more assists and a higher FG%. My very valid point about the Final MVP’s really closes this arguement. Only ONE time has Kobe been the best player in a Finals series, he has a long way to go to reach Mike’s level.

  • Lz – Cphfinest3

    Kap; I think the Finals MVP count is as valid a point as one could make, wouldn’t you agree? After all the Finals MVP is the one way of measuring the best player/performer on the biggest stage. Like you said when Kobe ‘commits’ to D he is great, true I agree. The difference being that Mike never had to ‘commit’ to D, he was always locked in on D, never took plays of, and took it very personal when people scored on him. Kobe, like you insinuates picks and chooses his spots for when to play D. If you really know BBall, then you would know that D is all about effort. Mike’s effort on D was much better than Kobe’s as well as his physical tools being better; stronger, jumped higher, quicker (that might be a tie?), longer arms. Steals doesn’t determine whether you are a great defender, but it is still the best defensive play possible; creating a turnover, often leading to fast break points. So when you make 2-3 a game it haves an impact.
    You are calling the 90′s watered down? get real the competition was much tougher than the opposition Kobe played. Mike won his rings against; Magic, Drexler and a great Blazers team, Barkley and the Suns, a great Supersonics team, and two times against Utah arguably the best team never to win a ring featuring hall of famers Stockton and Malone. Kobe won his rings against; Allen Iverson and one of the worst teams ever to make the playoffs, the Nets (the Nets for crying out loud), and a Pacers team that had seen better days, and lastly against a Magic team which best offensive player was Hedo Turkoglu, both times when Kobe faced quality opposition (Pistons and Celtics) he lost. If Kobe is such a great passer (when he wants to) must mean that his basketball IQ is lower than Mike’s since Mike always averaged more assists and a higher FG%. My very valid point about the Final MVP’s really closes this arguement. Only ONE time has Kobe been the best player in a Finals series, he has a long way to go to be considered Mike’s equal.

  • http://lastknickstanding.blogspot.com Bryan

    tmoney as always yourean idiot.

  • Lz – Cphfinest3

    Sorry for the double post.

  • Lz – Cphfinest3

    *should have read ‘Allen Iverson and one of the worst teams to ever make the FINALS’ not playoffs.

  • BostonBaller

    I too think fans go waaaay overboard with the mean spirited comments (not just here or just about Kobe) For the most part, none of us really know these players intimately and can’t really comment on them personally. we should leave it on the court. With that said, Kobe is mean Black Mamba on that court and our hands are full with him and his boys in The Finals. The Finals MVP trumps the regular season MVP but the overall Chip trumps them both. If a player had a choice they would take The Finals. With all that said, I’m looking forward to someone in GREEN getting that MVP in 2010 and I don’t care which player it is. GREEN for 18

  • Kap

    @ Lz I agree with everything except but when the lakers lost in finals a key piece was either hurt or missing and that 04 team was garbage. That team was only 4 deep if that is even possible. I also believe that their bball IQs are equivalent. Moreover, I believe Kobe was actually that best player on some of those early championship teams, Shaq was just more dominant bc of his size obviously and how unstoppable he use to be. Like the OT game in Indiana where Shaq fouled out and Kobe took over and his sick numbers against the Kings & Nets.

  • Kap

    kudos to bostonballer…Its gonna be a very entertaining series.

  • iBarber

    You know I see all the LeBron jockers on here but no respect for Kobe..you can’t deny this man’s championships and his dedication to the game. True I hate Kobe as a person but as a basketball player Oh My God this dude can make the worst player shine like a superstar aka Michael Jordan back in the day( Jordan to Paxson) so why so much disrespect for Kobe can’t deny the numbers at all. Yes leBron won MVP of regular season but who cares about that when you can’t beat the man Giant and the garbage Orlando Magic…are you kidding me?

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    I liked the way Kap and “pap” rhymed, sue me.
    Kap said that it was obvious that Kobe played better in theclutch, as if that was some sort of advantage over Jordan. He also said steals don’t denote good defense, as if that’s why folks are saying MIke was a good defender and not the nine selections to the all-defense team.
    Unlike some folks, I don’t think Jordan walked on water and healed the sick. He took plays off, he came up small, he made boneheaded decisions. He was human.
    I just think he did it LESS often than Kobe. And was a better defender, rebounder and passer. Scoring, a tie. Ball-handling, edge for Kobe. So, Mike still wins. But, if Kobe continues to go off like he did this playoffs, then he makes it tougher to decide.

  • T-Money

    I know I’ve done my job when Bryan retreats to (unprovoked) insults instead of actual arguments. #ignore

  • Manumaniac

    Actually when he lost to the Celtics back in 08 it was the Eastern Conference Semifinals, not the Eastern Conference Finals. Just sayin…

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

    Just to argue one of Allen’s points: Scoring, a tie. What? How many scoring titles has Kobe won? How about in a row? Unless you’re telling me Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, etc weren’t up to snuff in the scoring category with Allen Iverson, Lebron, D-Wade etc, you’ve lost that part of your pro-Kobe point too. If Kobe was that single-minded machine of a scorer that Michael was, there should be a ten in a row parade for Bean and his scoring exploits. I’d like to also point out Kobe’s potential to have 5 or 6 more seasons of work than Michael (and his baseball fantasy and no skipping school early years) had when all is said and done as he approaches the all-time scoring records too…..but you know, sound logic makes little to no sense when speaking about the Pariah to a room full of fanboys.

  • Kap

    @ allenp…lol no offense taken. There is nothing wrong with a little healthy debating here and there. Im trying to get my fiancee’ to realize that but that is wayyyy off topic. Im glad someone acknowledge that jordan did miss shots and had turnovers in his career.

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

    And just for sh*ts and giggles, what is going to be more impressive, Kobe’s 4 rings or his three Finals failures? They are almost going to be neck and neck in about 2 weeks.

  • http://t2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:OzhW3M1GBSKkgM:http://fashionsensei.files.wordpress.com/2008/02/jackie-moon.jpg Jackie Moon

    @Eboy His three Finals failures will be more impressive.

  • Kap

    @ Eboy, kobe did drop 81 and scored fifty for like six straight games. Jordan career high is only 63, Kobe has went for sixty several times. Kobe has better footwork and jumper than jordan which is key to being a good scorer. Sorry, I think you are completely wrong on this one. Forget the scoring titles…Melo has never won a scoring title but Lebron has, and we all know that Melo is way superior on the offensive end than Lebron.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Eboy
    I don’t think leading the league in scoring is the end all for scorers.
    Kobe, for most of the early part of his career, was willing to take a backseat as a scorer to get Shaq and everybody else involved. He still put up 20+ a game, but he wasn’t getting anywhere near the shot attempts that Mike got.
    When he got those attempts, he scored at a very nice clip. Now he’s backed off that because his team doesn’t need it as much and he isn’t worried about carrying that load.
    When I look at the mechanics of scoring, Kobe and Jordan are neck and neck. The big problem is Kobe’s mental state and his willingness to take some very difficult shots just because he believes in himself that much. However, I think that Kobe’s aresenal is more varied than Michael’s and in my opinion he is just as dangerous a scorer. The scoring titles don’t do it for me.
    Now, you bring up a valid point about Kobe’s losses in the Finals, although I don’t think he had the better team in 2008. Mike won every time he got there, but did he ever, EVER face a team that was honestly as talented and well coached as the Bulls. I mean, he got his first ring against a Lakers team with an aging Magic and a rookie Divac. He got the second one against a somewhat soft Blazers team whose coach let them get rattled. The Suns were even more soft and had NOBODY committed and able to defend Jordan.
    The then beat a Sonics team that was poorly coached (You wait until Game Four to put Payton on Jordan?) and was not deep at all. They then beat Utah twice, with the second year being very impressive considering Pippen’s bad back and Jordan’s age creeping up on him. So, out of the six times, there was probably one time where the Bulls weren’t CLEARLY the superior team and that was the last ring where Malone choked.
    You can count Kobe’s extra years as a detriment, but I don’t. Personally I think it’s a testament to his amazing work ethic that he is the most fundamentally sound player in the NBA despite skipping college. None of his high school to pros counterparts have ever shown that level of fundamental knowledge. Not KG, not TMac and not Lebron.
    Moreover, being able to withstand the rigors and temptations of the league despite coming in at 17 is very impressive and think it’s even more impressive that he has been competing in the playoffs since jump street and has been consistently solid.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Kap
    Kobe does NOT have superior footwork to Jordan. That is a lie. Watch Mike work in the post and off the ball, superior footwork.

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

    Kap…..I’ll give Kobe this: Kobe is much more of a volume SHOOTER with more makes at this point in his career than Michael was because, in reality, Kobe’s offense consists of 85% jumpers. Michael, at 31, was still going to the hole (not like he was at 26 but still got there when he wanted/needed), consistentley posted up his chosen match-ups and using picks to get his mid-range going. One of Kobe’s odd quirks is how he rarely ever uses multiple/single picks to get EASIER looks than the triple fake, hands right in his face shots he loves to take. It’s like Allen said earlier, Michael never forced the action and was WAY more patient, thus making him the far more efficient scorer. To say Kobe is a better shooter is silly, to say his range is better is accurate.

  • http://www.slamonline.com/ Myles Brown

    Cosign AllenP. As usual. Bye.

  • Kap

    Well I believe he may be the greatest mid range shooter ever & that reverse pivot that kobe got from Jack Sikma is more evidence of his superior footwork

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

    Allen…even the lean years, when Kobe had to do EVERYTHING after Shaq left, he still didn’t lead the league in scoring each of those seasons…so I’m not feeling your retort. As far as the Bulls facing lesser teams, I’m sorry, but if scoring titles don’t mean much to you in my scorer debate, the teams they faced in the Finals they made mean little to me. You play who you are dealt. It’s on you to beat whoever that is. If you are telling me that the Celtics where light-years better than the Lakers in 08, I’m calling you a liar. If you are saying that the Nets and Pacers were among the greatest teams in Finals history, you are making up stories. If you are telling me that Kobe personally didn’t alter the outcome of the series against the Pistons in 04 cause he was trying to instill his will more than Shaq’s you’re forgetful. Just saying. There’s arguments to be made for both sides here.

  • http://lastknickstanding.blogspot.com Bryan

    tmoney im just at work ill elaborate when i get off. Eboy was putting up 28.5 at 22or 23 years old with an in his prime Shaq. The numbers do scream Jordan but as in every case numbers arent everything. I do think Jordan was better (hard to say for a knick fan) but its not the landslide it used to be anymore.. and youre the only guy i know who would overlook three straight trips to finals and call them a failure. Was Jim Kelly a failure? He got them there damn.. for more Kobe stuff click my name.

  • The Philosopher

    To the masses: As distressing as this may sound to many, Kobe will never be better than Michael. He has a long way to go before he is even as good as Michael. Magic Johnson IS the greatest player of all times. Larry Bird is grossly underrated.

  • Kap

    @ Eboy, the only Kobe wasn’t league leader in scoring was first year after shaq and that was in Tomjanovich’s offense and his 35ppg the next year was the highest since I think Chamberlain. The finals loss in 04 was due to Karl Malone and Horace Grant being injured along with no bench, and because gary payton wore a laker uniform. Give the pistons credit too, no one was gonna beat them that year. Not even the Spurs or timberwolves.

  • The Philosopher

    @kap: Michael’s career high was 69.

  • Kap

    @ Philosopher…my bad.

  • The Philosopher

    Allenp: Kobe DID miss the playoffs one year, for that NEVER happened to Michael.

    To the mass audience: Nobody in the history of The League was better on the baseline than Michael Jordan. Another reason Jordan was better.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Eboy, I don’t disagree with your last point. Just pointing out that the argument about scoring titles, like the argument about Finals MVPs, is more nuanced than most people want to admit.
    Also, you’re off base on Kobe’s “lean years.”
    During Jordan’s career, he rarely took fewer than 1800 shots per year. He had several years with over 2,000 shots. Comparatively, Kobe has only exceeded 1800 shots in a year ONE TIME. That right there says to me that Kobe is not the volume shooter you claim.
    Now, I concede the efficiency argument, I’ve always said that myself. But, I think it’s obvious that Kobe hasn’t scored like Jordan because for hte most part, he wasn’t trying to. Jordan was more efficient, but he was also taking a LOT more shots.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Philosopher, Kobe missed the playoffs because his team sucked.
    Mike’s team, despite having issues, was never that bad.
    Seriously, Mike missed an entire year with injury and his team STILL made the playoffs.
    Could Kobe’s team have done that without him?

  • Kap

    They also went to conference finals when Jordan retired to embarrass himself @ baseball and Pippen was like runner up for MVP.

  • Kap

    Why does everyone have amnesia about Jordan getting his butt whooped by the Magic in playoffs when he came out of retirement?

  • http://lastknickstanding.blogspot.com Bryan

    Mike’s team also got in with only 30 wins

  • The Philosopher

    Allen, all I’m saying is that every team Michael Jordan played on until he got to the Wizards made the playoffs. Kobe’s didn’t.

  • http://double-technical.blogspot.com Zee!

    Damn Heat fans are bitter. Wait till Wade leaves this offseason….

  • http://double-technical.blogspot.com Zee!

    One thing I feel was overlooked is the fact that the West has always been insanely competitive as far as parity is concerned. And it has been on a repetitive basis. The margin for error in the Western Conference is ridiculously slim. Yet look at the averages Kob put up. In Mike’s defense, those Knicks and Piston teams in his early career weren’t slouches, but you have to think teams were more even now than they were then.

  • The Philosopher

    @Allenp: If Kobe is less efficient while taking less shots, how does that tie him with Jordan as a scorer? And I respectfully disagree with Kobe not trying to score like Jordan.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Philosopher
    To state facts outside of context is silly.

  • Arek

    Bryan, Kobe is also a better passer.. I don’t care if MJ averaged more assists than Kobe (their career averages aren’t that far off anyway).. Jordan was a great passer but Kobe’s just better.

  • The Philosopher

    To express a point off of Zee!, in Jordan’s day, the West was also prominent, for as we all know, the Lakers were the dominant team winning championships. When Michael finally started winning, all of that changed. When he retired, the power shift shifted back to the West, hence Shaq, Kobe, Tim Duncan. Of course teams won between times, (Chauncey, Garnett, etc.) but…

  • The Philosopher

    Allenp: Out of context?

  • anton

    i am waiting for the day when slam actually gets some competent writers on their website who have a voice older than a six year old. its called proof reading, and sometimes reading your online content is embarassing

  • heh8meN1

    5 + 11 = 16

    On to the next WON.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Oz0_0-Pw-g

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Philosopher
    You stated that Mike never missed the playoffs and Kobe has. You just stated that as a fact as if it buttressed your argument.
    Then, when I presented the context of that factoid, you said that all you wanted to do was state the fact.
    Facts without context are almost as bad as lies.
    Shaq is more efficient than Jordan. Is he a better scorer than Jordan?
    See how that works?

  • james

    damn allenP is killin yall. i love it when ppl who actually know the game make good unbiased comments. i cosign everything allen has said on this post

  • The Philosopher

    Allen: I’m not looking for that to buttress an argument, you said that. I was stating a fact, you told me that stating facts out of context is silly, I asked about how the fact was out of context, that’s all. I don’t understand how you perceived that in that way.

  • The Philosopher

    Even though it did buttress my argument that Jordan is better than Kobe.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Philosopher
    Come on, let’s not play stupid here. You said that Kobe would never be better than Jordan, and he’s not even close to being as good as Jordan.
    That’s a position, or, an argument.
    You threw out the playoffs stat in response to a convo I was having with other folks to make that argument stronger.
    Your fact was stated in that context. You directed it to me based on the comments I had already made.
    Is it clear now?

  • http://lastknickstanding.blogspot.com Bryan

    You know part of the problem with comparing people is not treating that as individuals. People act like Kobe and Mike are on a level field. Kobe started earlier , so he took his lumps early. If for instance Kobe played 2 seasons in college his career scoring average would be 27.5 ppg, and 3 seasons in college same as Mike, its 28 ppg. 2 points per game separates them and Mike was all of a sudden light years better? Mike is better at certain things, but scoring is not one of them. Especially since he shared the ball with Shaq from 18 to 25. tmoney, JR Smith lacks the drive to be a good defender , that doesn’t mean he lacks the athleticism and body to do so. Danny Ainge was 6’3 and slow. I’m sure there were plenty of athletes in both the 80′s and 90′s , but not as many as there are today. The league today is more athletic than the 80′s and 90′s and if you don’t agree with that well the answer can be found in my previous comment toward you. Once again I emphatically say Mike is better than Kobe. But it is not a landslide, and may actually be an argument in the near future if he wins this year.

  • The Philosopher

    My bad, Allen, because I really thought you were edging towards Kobe being better than Jordan, based on your comments. Now, I can say that you agree with me that Michael is better than Kobe.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Bryan, some folks don’t want to hear that, although I don’t think T-Money is one of them.
    Eboy on the other hand, well we all know how he feels about the Mamba.

  • The Philosopher

    ^now that you clarified that for me.

  • http://t2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:OzhW3M1GBSKkgM:http://fashionsensei.files.wordpress.com/2008/02/jackie-moon.jpg Jackie Moon

    Look, Michael is better than Kobe. But it’s just hating when someone says that Michael is light years ahead of Kobe, because he isn’t.

  • http://SLAMonline zanerr

    To me Kobe is the only one worth getting the honors of MVP!!!! Well aslong as its not a celtic hahaha PEACE!!!

  • Bruno

    the only thing eboy said that i’ll remember is …
    what is going to be more impressive, Kobe’s 4 rings or his three Finals failures? They are almost going to be neck and neck in about 2 weeks …
    hey celtics fan i’ll be damn afraid if i were you cause eboy’s picks this playoffs are mmm how can i call them mmm his picks mmm SUCKED hahaha
    i’m still waitin’ lakers-thunder game 7

  • http://www.stuffwhitepeoplelike.com Tarzan Cooper

    I hope paul gets his second finals mvp in game 6 in la, so all la fans can see what a two time finals mvp looks like. They havent seen one since shaq. And SLAM what was with the ‘hey shaq how kobes ass taste?’ line? That didnt work when kobe just tied shaq for four

  • http://slamonline.com tealish

    Jackie Moon’s 6:52pm comment is on point.

  • http://myspace.com/mcnarrative Kieran

    I genuinely cant believe some of the utter nonsense I have just read in the comments section. Think I’m getting to old for Slam.

  • The Philosopher

    Shout out to PAPALOUKAS, The Leader.

  • http://www.kb24.com The Seed

    MJ/KOBE who cares, Kobe has a chance at 5 rings and just three years ago everyone was saying that his career is over. Kobe has proven everyone wrong again and he will win his fifth and I truly believe Kobe will win seven rings and MJ will utltimately have the make the statement he doesn’t want to say and that will be Kobe is on my LEVEL. JUST WAIT!!

  • The Philosopher

    “Kobe is on my level, but he isn’t better than me.”

  • Dynamo

    I don’t know if it has been commented on, but the article has its facts wrong. After losing in the 2007 finals, Cleveland lost to the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Semi-finals in 2008. Then they lost to Orlando in the Eastern Conference finals in 2009. And now, obviously, they have lost to the Celtics again in the Eastern Conference Semi-finals. The second paragraph of this article needs to be corrected.

  • Ronald

    The whole argument that Jordan’s era was weaker is a bit silly. True, players might have been not as well conditioned (due the medicine/science advancement) but players were equally as athletic and fast during those days as they are now. @Allenp: The Philosopher is the king of making out of context statements, you should ignore him when he does that. 1/2 the time his arguments are based on res ipsa, which is plain silly in a debate. The one thing that MJ has over Kobe that no one can deny is his impact on the game. MJ single handedly globalized NBA basketball.

  • http://facebook.com/jray2009 Jray

    Why cant we let guys play an wait for careers to end before the debate begins? Kobe has a solid 4 years ahead of him, wait for him to retire before we can even begin to pass judgement. Same as Kobe and LeBron, enjoy their careers now, debate later.

  • http://www.realcavsfans.com Anton

    Wade>Melo>Bron

  • http://www.springbored.net letsmotor

    i think one thing you have to bring into the conversation if you’re going to compare kobe and michael offensively is the type of defenses they faced and how they responded to them. jordan faced the bad boy pistons’ and the 90s knicks’ defenses often in the playoffs, and while they sometimes succeeded in containing him, he also was able to give them 50+ a handful of times. kobe hasn’t yet proven that he can really dismantle great defenses (of course, he’ll have the chance to prove he can very soon). the best, toughest, and most physical defense kobe ever faced was the c’s in the 2008 finals, and they were able to contain him for that entire series. he struggled shooting, and he never had a game where he just went off. until he proves he can really succeed against a defense like that, that’ll be one of things separating him and michael in my mind.

  • Joon

    Well I think all opinions here are valid and are open to debate. Its hard to say whether MJ or Kobe is better because they played different roles in their own championship teams. Honestly if I was Kobe and had Shaq on my team, I’d definitely give him the ball most of the time because it would just make winning that much easier. If MJ had a Shaq as well I’m pretty sure he would have done the same thing. At the end of the day, if there’s an easier way of getting the job done effectively…why not? Mathematically speaking, its just easier to score 1 foot from the basket compared to 20. Its definitely unfair to discredit Kobe’s role in the threepeat Lakers team because at the end of the day he did what he needed to do to get the job done and getting the job done is just the most important part of playing pro basketball, regardless of getting a Finals MVP or not. Flashforward to 2009 and Kobe is just still getting the job done but in a different context (being “the man”) with the current Lakers team. So all I’m saying is that it don’t matter MJ or Kobe had more Finals MVP awards, they both did what was needed for the kind of team they had and they had results. Bynum could be finals MVP for all I care if he was as dominant as Shaq and help to make Kobe’s job easier.

  • Elias

    Comparing Kobe and MJ is hard, cause they played in different eras. Now if I compare MJ’s best scoring season to Kobe’s best scoring season, the league averages are pretty different. Back then the tempo of the game was faster, or atleast teams shot more. In 86-87 league average for team field goal attempts a year was 7281 and in 05-06 it was 6477, that’s about 800. And the average for team scoring was also pretty big, in 86-87 it was 109.9 and in 05-06 it was just 97. And the free throws have gone down too, probably because the play was more physical back then, then teams shot an average of 2498 free throws a year, and in 05-06 2157.
    So the times have changed, and it’s not easy to make good comprassions of players from different era stats vice atleast.

  • Lucky Luciano

    Where to watch the FINALS in LA??? Heading over from Australia in a couple of days, want to catch game 2 at the Staples, but where to go for 3 and 4?

  • http://www.slamonline.com J

    kobe > lebron but sorry, the article is weak.

  • The Philosopher

    @Ronald: Whether a fact is out of context or in context, it’s still a fact, and it was relevant to a discussion. But as I’ve said a plenty of times, the truth, however it comes out, is distressing to many in the general populous. Seems like the truth distresses you, too.

  • Aaron

    All of these chunky paragraphs are amusing. Kobe’s grind for 5 starts tomorrow at 9pm. And then for 6 in 10′-11′.

  • Kadavour

    @The Philosopher: facts only have meaning with context.

  • The Philosopher

    @Kadavour: Facts have meaning as long as it is on topic.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Philosopher
    You’re backtracking.
    First you say you were just throwing a fact out there. Then you say it’s relevant to the discussion.
    Unfortunately, it’s relevance can only be determined by viewing it in context.
    Saying that Jordan has never failed to make the playoffs, which totally ignores his years in Washington by the way, is a useless fact in a comparison of Kobe to Jordan unless you compare Jordan’s teams to the teams Kobe had. If Jordan’s teams were demonstrably more talented, which they were, and made the playoffs in a weaker conference, which they did, then that statistic is not really very powerful, particularly since Kobe only failed to make the playoffs ONE time.
    It’s not about distressing truth, it’s about cats spewing random information, connecting non-existent dots and then posing like this solved the mystery.
    I have no problems with “truth” or “facts,” I’m just smart enough to realize that what most people consider truth and facts are just bias confirmations.

  • The Philosopher

    @Allen: I mean, I respect your opinion wholly, and truly. I never said you have problems with truths or facts, I said many of the masses do. And, just because to you someone may be spewing what you may call random facts doesn’t mean that they are not facts, whether in or out of context, for facts are facts. My facts happened to be relevant to a discussion. And you’re right, some perceived truths are biased confirmations. And as far as you telling me how you’re smart enough to realize certain things… who said you wasn’t smart? Me? And, my playoff reference was in fact valid, and a powerful argument on Jordan’s behalf.

  • The Philosopher

    Jordan’s teams were not that talented. Jordan was the mechanism that made them look talented.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Excuse me, I thought your comments to Ronald were also directed at me. If they weren’t, then we don’t have a problem.
    And, Jordan’s teams were talented, which most people don’t realize. Go back and look at those rosters. Even before Jerry Krause did his amazing job of drafting talent, they had good players. They just got a LOT better under Krause. Jordan was not playing with the same caliber of chumps that Kobe had during his lean years. Kwame and Smush were STARTERS and Luke Walton was a key contributor off the bench. That’s a problem.

  • The Philosopher

    But Allen, what about that Bulls team that won 30 games on Jordan’s watch? Imagine him not on that team.

  • The Philosopher

    They had Sam Vincent as a starting point guard, Orlando Woolridge was no Scottie Pippen. Dave Corzine, Ed Nealy… Jordan had some real johns back then. Kwame Brown had more talent than Corzine or Nealy.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    That is a lie. Kwame is a bum. This cannot be overstated because not only is he a bum, for years he didn’t even try hard.
    And I’m pretty sure they won 30 games when Jordan sat for the entire year, but I’ll check the stats. And they made the playoffs.

  • The Philosopher

    I’m not saying Kwame isn’t a bum, or he tries hard. He just had more talent than Corzine and Nealy. Especially Nealy.

  • The Philosopher

    The year they won 30 games, (1985 – 86) Jordan was hurt, but he made it back and led them to the Playoffs. They were out of it until Michael came back for the final 18 games. This is fact.

  • The Philosopher

    I thought it posted earlier, but I meant to say he came back for the final 15 games.

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    Why do people think Jordan could have won 8 straight titles if he had never tried baseball? In case any of you have forgotten, he DID come back to play in ’95, and guess what?–They lost to Orlando.

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