Michael Jordan is considered by most to be the greatest player in the history of the NBA. While many have been compared to him, Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant is usually recognized as the closest thing to Jordan ever seen.
While the debate about the two continues on to this day, the one person best equipped to answer the question is Phil Jackson. As former head coach of the Chicago Bulls and Lakers, Jackson led both players in their respective primes and understands what makes each unique.
Jackson recently appeared at the Salt Lake City tech conference and spoke about a major difference between the two legends, via Liesl Nielsen of KSL.com:
“There was something coachable about Michael that Kobe didn’t have,” Jackson said while headlining Utah tech company Domo’s annual conference Wednesday. “But Kobe had an irrepressible fire.”
Jackson further explained his point by using an example of subbing each player out of the game:
If Jackson took Jordan out of a game because he was ruining the offense by trying to score all the time, then Jordan would do better when he got back in.
“He’d know what he’d done,” Jackson said. “He had a conscience.”
Kobe, on the other hand, would stand next to him and incessantly ask if he could go back in. The Lakers’ player had an incredible competitiveness, Jackson said.
Kobe’s competitiveness is the stuff of legend, as there is nothing he wouldn’t do in order to be the best and ultimately come out on top. Sometimes that could make it tough on a coach, but handling difficult personalities is something Jackson thrived on.
The debate between Jordan and Kobe, along with other stars like Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and LeBron James, will continue on forever, but it is always great to hear anecdotes like this from those who know these stars the best.
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