Throughout his illustrious 20-year career, former Los Angeles Lakers star guard Kobe Bryant was always compared to Michael Jordan, who is viewed by many as the greatest of all-time. These were comparisons that Bryant welcomed and took on as a challenge to prove he could be better than his idol. It’s what drove him to even greater heights in his career that established him as one of the best to ever do it. His passing has brought forth an entertaining anecdote on how he tried to prove to Phil Jackson that he was better than Jordan.
Kobe Bryant’s comparisons to Michael Jordan
Over his two decades in the NBA, Bryant was most associated with Jordan due to his playing style most looking like the former Chicago Bulls’ great. He shared many of the same mannerisms, moves, and shot selections on the court.
Although Bryant did draw much inspiration and knowledge from watching and learning from many other greats, there were none far more impactful on him than Jordan. Chasing his idol was a huge part of helping shape his approach to the game and how he went about his career.
That built a strong bond between them behind their similarly competitive drive for greatness and a great deal of respect for each other. The connections went beyond their playing style as Bryant had the privilege to be coached by Phil Jackson through the bulk of his career.
It also provided him a chance to show Jackson that he belonged in the same breath as Jordan, which there are several instances that he made that much clear.
How Phil Jackson motivated Kobe to prove he was better than Michael Jordan
Jackson is one of the few to have the luxury of spending a great deal of time around both Bryant and Jordan during significant chunks of their respective careers.
That foreseeably brought up questions comparing them over the years while he coached in Los Angeles. Former Lakers player and coach Brian Shaw stated that Jackson was once asked who was the better player among them, which the Hall of Fame coach used his answer to motivate Bryant.
“He was always elusive in his answers, but he said that he gave Michael the edge only because Michael had six championships to five and Michael had bigger hands…Phil planted that seed because it knew it work irk Kobe and drive him to want to surpass Michael in Phil’s mind. So he went out to get the old-school vice grips and he would sit in our meetings and all he was doing was squeezing those on the plane and on the bus to get his hands stronger because that’s the edge that Phil Jackson gave Michael over him.”
It’s just another story that shows the ultimate drive that Bryant had to prove he could be the best, and Jordan was that bar he had to pass. Instances like that are further indication that he had that competitive edge to push himself even harder at a point in his career where he had already established himself as an all-time great.
Kobe Bryant carved out his own legacy
There will be those that continue to hold Jordan above everyone as the best to ever to play the game, but it doesn’t diminish Bryant’s legacy by any means.
Many out there also believe that he holds the stake to that mantel as well, but the fact that he’s in that conversation speaks to the caliber of player he was during his illustrious career. He may have shared plenty of the same qualities that Jordan had, but he was unique in his own regard that etched his place in NBA history.
The story of the NBA can’t be told without Bryant as he’s one of the most iconic and transformative players that the league has ever had.