Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan Comparison: Numbers Never Lie

Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan Comparison: Numbers Never Lie


Don’t you hate those Kobe Bryant/Michael Jordan comparisons? They’re just the worst, right? Well, here’s another one! Recently our good friend Tyson Beck put together this detailed graphic that compares the careers of Jordan and Bryant in a side-by-side manner that allows us to focus just on the numbers.

Not bad, right?

At first the numbers aren’t that surprising. You’ll notice that Jordan’s points per game and and percentages are significantly higher, but then things get interesting. Some of the numbers are a lot closer than you might expect, which may give further fuel to the “can Kobe be mentioned in the same sentence as that other guy” fire that has been burning since about 2004.

I’m not going to take the time to dive into this debate, because honestly I don’t think there is much of an argument to be made. But if there’s anybody who statistically stands up with Mike, it appears to be Kobe. Even though Bryant trails Jordan in most of the categories, I feel like that can’t be much of a surprise since Mike is widely considered the greatest player to ever lace ’em up.

While I’ll be the first one to scoff at those that try to compare Kobe and Jordan, this chart is a lot of fun to look over and see just how similar these two players are. There’s no question they have followed similar career paths to this point, and the similarities between their styles of play are evident. The numbers make it clear that Kobe is a far better 3-point shooter than Jordan was, but we knew that. The assist numbers were closer than expected, at least the totals, but Jordan averaged an entire assist more per game throughout the course of his career than Bryant has.

Defensively, Jordan dominates Bryant. The block and steal numbers lean in heavy favor of 23, as do the 40-plus and 50-point games. Those numbers are truly staggering, as Jordan’s scoring barrage from the late eighties to early nineties was the stuff of legend. Even Kobe’s scoring output from 2005-07 (his highest scoring years) didn’t compare to Mike’s, at least in terms of longevity. Then again, Kobe has that one 80-plus point game on his resume, something Jordan never came close to achieving.

So instead of dissecting this further and coming up with some inane argument as to why Kobe is as good as/better than/equal to/the square root of Michael Jordan, take a look at the graphic and see for yourself. After all, I’ve heard rumors that numbers never lie.

Thanks to the famous Tyson Beck (@TysonBeckDesign), one of the best Lakers graphic artists in the world, we have a new graphic to show you the latest in what the numbers tell us between the two great shooting guards:

Click on image for full resolution!


  • bigraidernation

    kobe’s numbers come in on a far better leauge than when jordan played don’t forget kobe’s double teamed in most games not jordan and when he was most of those players would’nt play today can you imagine if kobe went to a team as a rookie(a weak franchise like the chicago,cleavland,etc.)and was a starter in the 80’sand 90’s kobe’s numbers would be far greater than they are now .put jordan in a laker uniform as a rook he’s riding the pine today or in the d leauge with LA (1st 8 seasons kobe had to give the ball to shaq #1 option/jordan was always the #1 option in chicago)     WE WOULD NOT EVER DISCUSS A PLAYER NAMED JORDAN COMPAIRED TO KOBE PERIOD!!!   oh yea remember all the little white guy’s in leauge let them play defense against kobe in the 80’s…………..         

    • Ronniehoward777

      you make some great points. I wouldn’t say Jordan would be in the D league, but you are right about the double teams and the zone d jordan never faced, and the small defenders he faced and kobe couldn’t socre as much cuz of shaq, and couldn’t have the ball as much cuz of shaq

    • Chris J

      You obviously dont know what your talking about. Jordan was doubled teamed his whole career. Kobe in his prime is hardley ever double teamed. Hand checking rules now are a joke. Mike would shoot 20 a game. Plus there want illegal defense back then so people could double Jordan without the ball. You got it wrong. Jordan would be better then Kobe in this era and Kobe would get his ass kicked in the late 80’s 90’s. Kobe is good im not stupid but he patterened his whole game and vocabulary after Mike. We shouldnt copare the 2.

      • Fasteddycj1980

        20 free throws a game… sorry for the spelling..

      • http://www.facebook.com/carson.brooksii Carson Himdwnstairsstill Brook

        There was illegal defense back when Jordan played, they made the zone because of Shaq, Kobe wouldn’t get his butt kicked in the 80’s or 90’s cause he could play in that era and he is one of the last links to that era. You damn fa sure didn’t watch hoop cause Kobe was always doubled in his prime, get ya facts st8……both are Great players, I’m a laker fan to my heart, but MJ is THE GOAT………Kobe is 1a in my book…

        • Adrianbethea502

          MJ patterned his game after Dr J. I think Kobe is more physical than MJ so he would have faired well in the 80’s. You might want to find out when the no hand checking rule was implemented. MJ played during that era. He did nothing special. Players today are bigger, stronger, and faster but there is one name that has gotten the best of all of them. Kobe, Kobe, Kobe, Kobe.

          • Kevin P

            I’m not the only one who had never forgot the true root of all excitement of dynamic ball play … Allmost the great picrures and famous poster shots of Jordon you can find with The Dr. Julius Erving The flying dunk from the free thow to the behind the backboard reverse backspin lay-up.. love to see credit where due although he falls short of the greatest of all time he was the one that initialy made me a fan… In the realm for fantasy true greatest player you have to wonder about Magic’s early retirement because truthfuly he created “showtime” and the whole NBA would be a shadow of itself and 1/2 of the ball players now would be in football or baseball if not for the attaction to the game grown from the direct explosion he created. If the questiion about greatest and if its about one on one then this is a very fair comparison but as a team game who is the greatest  ???      Kareem shot  58%   Magic 51%   MJ 49% Kobe 45% … but he averaged only 20 pts (on half the shots) he averaged 950 MJ and Kobe 400-450… that 2x as likely that another on the team WILL will score when this man has the ball and he’s looking left and passing right… you have to guard his pass harder than his shot… nobody had a connection with the flow of the court. And they have all had dramatic last shots “NONE” better than Jordan’s … but more ? i dont have facts but memory goes to magic. I lobe them all and a Laker Fan since the jump even as a jordan fan. Poor Kobe is a pheonom and would have been a better player and potentially even better than Jordan if the media didn’t “Air Apparent” him. His team game has matured … hopefully the new team will give him trust on the court that will free him from the paranoia that he must carry the team on his back and must have the ball to win. Jordon was just “Jordon” and not chasing shadows of greatness …. Kobe is greatness chasing shadows of “Jordon” Sometimes he works so hard to be him that he forgets the team… for me & the game of basktball it will allways be the 20yr old rookie foward who played point guard and when the Lakers  needed a miricle in the playoffs some body made a wish and “poof”…. out of a puff of smoke it was like sombody placed “Shaq” in the game except with handles and a free-throw…  It was  “Magic” 

          • Alldat5

             Did you say MJ did nothing special? If so, go back and look at the stats, dunks, RINGS. If he did nothing special then you are downgrading KB because MJ bests KB’s stats in all but three categories.

            I agree that KB would have done well in the 80’s, but like MJ he didn’t become physical until the middle of his career. Again, KB patterned his game after MJ’s so to put down MJ’s is to put down KB’s.

            Even though the players are bigger, stronger, and faster now, they aren’t necessarily better. The bigs are not better, for instance Bynum wouldn’t have been the second best center back then with Olajuwon, Ewing, Robinson, Daugherty, Smits, etc. Back then if you drove into the lane you could get floored. What was considered a hard foul is now called a flagrant one or two.  My point isn’t that KB wouldn’t have been a top player back then because he would have, it’s to stop the misconception that MJ had it easier than KB does.  That is NOT true. The game was more physical, there were more shot blockers, there were more skilled bigs in the league.  The guards and small forwards are bigger and in some cases better now, but Miller, Dumars, Drexler, Marjerly, Scott, and others would still do well in the current NBA.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Carlos-Perez/100003386394640 Carlos Perez

         thats right, you are so correct,love your post

      • Derek J. Toohey

        seriously saying kobe would get owned in the 80/90 is a joke.   jordan was the great scorer of then but vs. aged rosters  when he started winning rings.  while they made rosters to stop  kobe and co  with verry little success.

        • MDVEEJAZZ

          If not for Shaq, Kobe would probably have 1 ring. MJ is why Kobe exist. He did everything he could to be like Mike. He just came up a little short. Every team the Bulls played geared there defense to stopping Jordan. Why because Jordan was not only a scorer, he made everybody on the team better. Stop him you stop the whole team not just him. Kobe is a scorer that’s it and that’s all. His team mates are afraid to shoot the ball because of Kobe. We’ve had some really good players come from other teams and under perform because Kobe sucks the life out of the team. With the exception of Ron Artest everyone else plays as if Kobe the only option. Why? Because Kobe makes them feel that way.      

          • ANTHONYinCALI

            He won 2 without Shaq and you can say the same thing about MJ without Pippen. Nobody wins by themselves.

          • stopallu19902000children

            He won 2 with Gasol, widely considered one of the best offensive big man today.  He had Bynum (second big man in league) and Gasol (top 10 big man in league) and failed to win his sixth.  Now he has Nash (widely considered one of the top 8 point guards today), Howard (Defensive juggernaut and best big man today). and Gasol (top 10 big man today).  People complained about big 3’s?  Give Kobe a pass because Jordan had Pippen?  Well, Kobe now has a bonafide big 4.  He pretty much has an ALL-STAR caliber starting 5.

            And please, stop with the lame “players are supermen today” comments.  If you can find an instance where Kobe got harassed and pounded to the floor for pretty much a whole playoff series for 2-3 years like MJ had on his way up to the top, then you may come back and tell me Kobe played in stiffer competition.  It doesn’t matter how young and strong you are if the players who are “older” and “weaker” are pounding you into the ground while these “better” players pretty much let you waltz to the basket *cough raptors cough*

          • ANTHONYinCALI

            I didn’t say Kobes better because I don’t think that. Do I think Kobe is the closest player to Jordan taking everything into account yes. All I said was Nobody wins alone. During the season in which they went 72-10 the bulls had one of the best benches a solid pg in Harper, pippen, and Rodman.

      • bigraidernation

        you must be a little white boy cuz you don’t know shit to bad we’re not genies would love to see there roles flipped around LAKER4LIFE CAN YOU SAY 81 PTS IN 2006 BABY !!!! 

      • Ishmaster

        You just contradicted yourself with the last sentence man. You are comparing the two if your saying Kobe takes his game and how his mannerisms are, from Mike. lol its cool though I still think Jordans better in some aspects of the game and Kobe is better in different ways

      • Mcado

        Sorry Chris you’re only partly correct. Jordan was not double team as much as Kobe.  Pippen shooting percentage was over 48 pct. Better than MJ’s.  Making it impossible for team to double team MJ consistently.  However, Kobe played with Luke Walton, Smush, Brown, Cooke, etc. making it very easy to double team Kobe. In fact Kobe was tripled team in over 60% of the game when those players were on his team (check the film).

        Mj was not ask to more than just score points.  That’s why Pippen lead the bulls in assist. However, Kobe lead the Lakers in assist, steals and points. Why? because he was asked to do almost everything.  Phil Jackson said it best . “Kobe is asked to do more than Michael..”  For the record Mj still has the highest shooting avg than Kobe.  Mj shot the ball more than Kobe has in his career. Look it up. 

        Mj copied Dr. J, Earl the Pearl and others. So to say that Kobe copied MJ is silly.  BB is a game with only so many legal moves. So of course style will be similar but MJ didn’t create BB!  – Only Kareem and Rick Barry had their own style that nobody has copied. Everything else is been done before.   FYI: Jordan couldn’t fly – I hate to burst your bubble.


      You need to watch some NBA classic games. The defense in the 80’s and early 90’s was far superior. What are you like 12 years old or something! Do you remember, hand checking was allowed, no flagrant fouls, no charging limitation line under the basket. Oh need I remind you that the center position was the dominant position…so don’t bring that Westbrook, Rose, crap in the paint. Basketball was almost like playing Football back then. The Pistons, Nicks, Celtics, Sixers, Bucks…Please, the way they cry now and beg the ref for a foul is laughable. Kobe may have survived but he would not have lasted as long. Oh yea FYI, there were no weak franchises back then. They may have been some franchises in need of an upgrade, but weak…HELL NO! 


        um clippers, kings, cavs, etc.

      • sayem quazi

        Hand checking may have been allowed, but even in that era, you couldn’t do it to MJ. Also center weren’t the most dominant position in the early 90s, if it was I don’t think you’d see Bulls winning much. They’re might have more big men that had skill, but it’s definitely not the most dominant position of the time. It’s like saying PG is the most dominant position right now; might be true, doesn’t mean anything. Also I can’t even begin to state how many scrub teams there were. There were 3 expansion teams between 90-96. There were like 7-8 teams that had no business even trying to compete. There might have not been flagrants, but there were fouls. Having rose and westbrook going up guys who were slow as snail, would be instant foul trouble. 

      • bigraidernation

        the rough play back than was nice to see but none of those guys would have a nba career today you need to have true defensive skills like i said a way better leauge today (all stars on all teams)

    • big_al

       I disagree with most of what you say here.  MJ would light up the current players just as easily as he did in the 80’s and 90’s.  The current NBA is officiated in favor of the offense.  During most of MJ’s career, defenders could hand-check, and be much more physical on defense. I flash back to watching the Pistons, Knicks, and other teams flooring anyone who drove into the paint.  Hard fouls then are now called flagrant ones and twos. My point is that going to the rack was risking your life (not literally) and MJ did it with ease. He was an athletic freak, his size, skills, and athletic ability would easily translate to the current NBA. I do agree that the players are bigger, stronger and in most cases more athletic than in the 80’s and early 90’s but I am confident that Reggie Miller, Joe Dumars, Reggie Lewis, Dan Majerle, Clyde Drexler, and others would do well in today’s NBA.

      You can’t really believe that MJ would’ve sat the bench on the Lakers his rookie year.  Our (yes, I’m a Lakers fan) shooting guards were Michael Cooper and Byron Scott, who was in his second season as a pro. I’m am pretty sure he would have started or at least played a decent amount of minutes. Anyone with eyes would have seen that Jordan was already better than Coop and Scott.

      Kobe would’ve put up great numbers in the 80’s and 90’s… for sure, but to say that we wouldn’t be talking about Jordan at all is ridiculous, beyond ridiculous.  I can only assume that you didn’t see Jordan play live, in his prime. I am and always have been a Laker, but I watched him destroy the NBA.  There was no one in his league, and still isn’t.  KB is close. Just look closely and you will see that KB patterned his game and swagger after Jordan’s, right down to the tongue wagging and turn-around jumper in the post.

      • bigraidernation

        i said todays lakers cooper,scott jordan on the pine as rookies for sure your talking 80’s & 90’s you made my point

      • Mcado

        Kobe sat on the bench before he was on a Laker team that had players that could play. MJ was on a failing franchise. Heck i could have made the Bulls back then.

        The debate should start and end this way.
        Which one of the 2 players was surrounded with better players?
        Which one of the 2 players has less changes with the team roster?
        Which one of the 2 players has won with a different team?

        Kobe has played with less talent.
        Kobe has played and won Titles with 2 Laker rosters.
        Kobe has played with 5 new rosters in his career.

        Jordan never had to go through that. He played and won with 80% of the same players. MJ never won a NBA title without Pippen.  Mj never had to carry his team he always had really good players around him. Pippen shot over 48% (think about that for a moment)

        Kobe did win 2 without Shaq.
        Kobe had Smush, Brown, Walton, Cook etc. etc some of the leagues worst players in NBA history (let that sink in for a moment)
        Kobe was the ONLY option for the Lakers.

        Kobe has done more with less.

    • karlosximenes

      I think it was Shaq that was being double teamed which left a lot of Lakers wide open (including Kobe)

  • http://www.facebook.com/SalarKohnechi Salar Kohnechi

    Even as a Kobe fan myself, it’s obvious Michael Jordan was the better player. 

  • Kevan Kent

    total blocks for jordan is missing a digit

  • http://twitter.com/danloney Dan Loney

    tying is spelled tying, not “tieing” :)

  • rrougely

    Make another chart when Kobe’s career is done then we can have an accurate comparison.  

  • John

    Best player of the 1990’s – Michael Jordan
    Best player of the 2000’s – Kobe Bryant (and he still has about 3-5 productive years left.)
    When he retires let’s revisit this comparison. But for now, I say MJ is currently the best of all time. And that’s coming from lifelong Laker fan.

  • Rage

    1040 Post season blocks for Kobe needs to be corrected obviously.


    MJ is a better all around player than Kobe. MJ eventually figured out how to empower his team mates. He made them feel comfortable taking shots that Kobe would cringe if a team mate of his took. That explains the assist numbers. He made guys better. Look what happened to Scottie Pippen when Jordan retired. Kobe is a great player, but Jordan is far superior. I am all Lakers all the time, but reality is what it is. DON’T BE A HATER BECAUSE YOU’RE A LAKER FAN…JORDAN WAS BETTER.    

  • bigraidernation

    you must be a cornfed jazz fan can’t say i know your pain cuz were winners when i walk in energy solution arena i see all those banners (they hang everything over there from toilet paper to jersey’s) but none of it means anything outside of utah 

  • bigraidernation

    this comment was for MDVEEJAZZ

  • Mr Moore626

    yeah the 1040 Blocks shocked me the most…

  • The_3_bozos

    6 finals mvps


    all that matters to me

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Emilio-Salinas/100001121140664 Emilio Salinas

    why dont you have game wimming shots post season up there? mj is ahead in that department. lets not all forget, kobe has already played more games then MJ. anyone that think kobe’s better is a upright fool that does not understand the concept of numbers and achievement.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Emilio-Salinas/100001121140664 Emilio Salinas

    any one making an argument for kobe is lob minded. when mj played the defense was allowed contact making is rougher for offenses to score. the kobe’s day, contact is illegal. untolerated.  mj best player of all time. love kobe im a kobe fan.

  • renato casanova

    look fellas you can’t compare the 2, its a holy war. Jordan this that, Kobe this that,If this, if that. Numbers don’t lie but they also don’t tell the truth, Kobe was snubbed MVP in 06 igaf what anyone has to say about that. Kobe wasn’t the #1 option on the lakers in the beginning and didnt start for 2 years and imagine if he would of went to college for a year or 2. Jordan was better defensively because of the hand check rule, how many of his his steals would of been fouls, would he have won the the defensive POY without the handcheck rule, also its a smarter league now charges, zone defense, faster players, faster game, its like comparing the euro-league with the nba its 2 different leagues different rules, court, etc.Jordan was the best of his era like kobe was of his like lebron is now and how kevin durant will be of his. when its all said and done comparing 2 players of 2 different eras is done from a POV how you see it is how you will judge it so if u say jordan is better than kobe than if thats the case bill russel is the greatest player ever.BTW in 98 season when the lakers played the bulls and kobe came off the bench the champions bulls(with jordan and co.) had a hard time stopping kobe and he was 20 years old..that says alot in its self

  • http://coachdesignz.wordpress.com/ Jay Dayuday

    Children…children…children. Stop whining! 

    24 and 23 will adapt on any era they play. This is what separates them from the good players. That’s why they are called ‘THE GREATEST OF ALL TIME’. 

  • T.Guzzo

    I would really like to See this Re-Done when its all over for KOBE!!! this pictures only good for 30 more days!!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/mark.a.gammad Mark Anthony Gammad

    yeah, failed to mention slam dunk championships and +1 in movies for Jordan

  • JordanForever

    Guys listen up. Jordan played well in three eras. Which is the 80’s (The Celtics-Lakers-Pistons Era), the 90s (obviously the Jordan Era), and the new millenium (supposed to be the ‘Weak’ Era).

    In the 80s, he stole the era. Why? When he entered in the NBA, having a spotlight in his career w/ scoring titles, a slam dunk champion then why is like Isiah Thomas had a bitter feelings for Jordan in the All Star Game not to play? He got smashed by the ‘Bad Boys’ Detroit years in every playoffs. You mean the hand check? 80’s Era is so PHYSICAL as hell. Guarding a ball handler with your hands grabbing a jersey, body or anything and that’s difficult to see. Even Bird, Magic, Isiah in their prime was in a superstar status along w/ Jordan. Why Jordan won a rookie of the year if he’s not good? Kobe is a LATE BLOOMER when it comes to skills, why? If you’re already a gifted player, you should have to win a rookie of the year award than Allen Iverson. See?

    In the 90s, c’mon it’s Jordan’s time. Although there’s some remaining great players around the league but Jordan still reigns supreme. Kobe reigns in the NBA? C’mon, there’s no Clyde Drexler, Hakeem Olajuwon, Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, David Robinson, Shawn Kemp or other 90’s stars on Kobe’s Era. Pick a name. Dirk Nowitzki? He’s not as good as Hakeem but he’s a shooter. Ginobili? C’mon, he’s not consistent on the stats. McGrady and Vinsanity? Where the hell they belong? Are they still playing the same as Kobe? Definitely no. Iverson? I thought he was playing overseas right? In Kobe’s Era, there’s no other NBA great that match his skills as Jordan’s competitors.

    The New Millenium Era, yeah he’s too old. But c’mon that guys can score 20 a night. Imagine your uncle score 20+ points a game w/ 10+ younger of his age. NBA players in this era took advantage of Jordan’s age. But Jordan still SCHOOLED them gnarly hard. A 40 year old Jordan scored 55 pts? Can Kobe still play on that age? Maybe. A starter? I don’t think so..

    So y’all Kobe fans out there, I’m not hating Kobe. Kobe’s a great player, I know he’s shattering the records away close but he’s NOT even closer in terms of skills, achievements, and mental toughness as Jordan has. Whether it’s a numerical stats or achievements, think about it. You’re just like thinking there’s a hell in heaven. That’s IMPOSSIBLE…

  • Chitown

    MJ is the is considered the greatest player that ever played period. Those are the words or Espn, and rosters. They are compared often, but it makes no sense. Jordan didn’t have to run thru the big man triangle offense they way Kobe did. Think about it for a minute. Mj won all six rings, without a dominant big man. Kobe’s rings were with Shaq and Pau, and Bynum. Those are just facts.True, Kobe is the best for his era, just like Mj was for his era, and Magic his era, and Wilt for his era. But google it, write in ask, about it, even listen to some of the greatest players, Barkley, Magic, Reggie miller, and the most important, the fans, who actually watched Mj play in his prime, ( not just watch footage), Mj is clearly the best. No one, no one has ever broke down a defense, CONSISTENTLY, game after game, play-off after playoff, season after season, like Mj. Twice Kobe was in the finals, and he lost. Mj was in the finals, and WON, every time he went, and was MVP.( lakers lost in 2005 to Detroit, and in 2008, to Boston, btw). True Kobe scored 81 points, During a SEASON game, Mj scored over 60 during a PLAYOFF game, ( vs. Boston in the eighties I think:). Plus he won 2 dunk contest. And MJ was so dominant, his defenders actually FEARED him, that’s never happened w Kobe. Jordan’s dream team, won the gold the FIRST time they tried. That didn’t happen w Kobe and his Oly. Team the first time he went did it. Don’t get it twisted, I’m a die hard Laker fan( from Chicago btw) but love him or hate him, Mj will more than likely never e passed as the Greatest Player, ( quite possibly the greatest athlete ) of all time.

  • Rasheed

    Interesting. On some stats my eyebrow raised…
    Comparing MJ23 vs KB24 is just not fair due to many factors.
    MJ = GOAT!
    There is no one coming close to MJ as KB24. (KAJ)

  • Truth

    Not even close. MJ has more MVP’s, 10 Scoring titles to Kobe’s 2, better per game average in assist, steals, blocks, rebounds, scoring, etc…Kobe has 5 titles and only 2 Finals MVP’s? Sorry that does not happen to MJ he is the best player on the team and locks down MVPs when they need him most. That should be the most telling statistic. If your not the best player in the finals on your team then you can’t be mentioned in the breath of his airness!

  • yeezy jonai

    kobe had an 81 point game fyi

  • bullsSUCK

    why are michael jordan dik riders on a lakers nation website? get a life you ol herb ass BULLShitters