Michael Jordan Was Better Than Kobe Bryant

Guys my age all know someone older who tells us Bobby Orr was the greatest hockey player of all-time. Guys my age all say it was Wayne Gretzky. It really is a generational thing, and since they played such different positions, it's really impossible to use analytics to say definitively who was better.

In the NBA, guys my age all think Michael Jordan is the G.O.A.T. If you're in your late 20s, you might think Kobe Bryant was/is better, but you'd be wrong.

Every way you look at it, Jordan was better than Bryant. Check out these metrics from FiveThirtyEight.

According to most advanced metrics, Jordan was better than Bryant at both ends of the floor. (This is true even if we restrict both players to the same block of seasons by age so we’re comparing apples to apples. Kobe entered the NBA at age 18, and he’s 36 now; Jordan played from age 21 to 34, retired and played again from age 38 to 39. So their overlapping years are 21 to 34.)


Kobe Bryant passed Michael Jordan on the all-time scoring list yesterday, but he's never been better than Jordan. Jordan is the best, and it's not even close.

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I didn't realize this was even up for discussion. But then again, I'm likely close to your age.

December 15, 2014 @ 2:54 PM

Mike Gamble

I don't think anyone is questioning this. Everyone knows Jordan scored all his points in 4 less years thank Kobe.
But...I am closer to your age. Still, I haven't heard this even being suggested.

December 15, 2014 @ 3:00 PM


Who's debating this?

December 15, 2014 @ 3:27 PM


I agree with the others - there's no debate. Not only is Jordan's stats superior to Kobe, he did something Kobe could never do: that's carry a team on his back and win championships. When Kobe didn't have Shaq or a strong supporting cast, he couldn't do it.

A better comparison for Jordan is LeBron. Give it a few years and the latter will be the consensus pick as bets player ever.

BTW, I may be biased as Kobe is a dick.

December 15, 2014 @ 3:27 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

Kobe is the first player in league history to record 30,000 career points and 6,000 career assists. He's also got a bunch of rings and plays a game similar to Jordan's.

This debate exists!

December 15, 2014 @ 3:31 PM

Al The Royal Pain

It exists especially in Kobe's mind.

December 15, 2014 @ 5:11 PM

Mike Gamble

it exists ONLY in Kobe's mind.
No one elses

December 15, 2014 @ 8:15 PM


I won't say he is better than Jordan but to Argie's point, he did win two without Shaq and he did carry those two teams.

December 16, 2014 @ 9:56 AM

Raptors Devotee

Michael Grange posted about this, and my reply to him was how sad it was that this is even being debated, and as Toronto Mike said correctly, it is. At 50 years old having seen both play their entire careers you don't even have to look at stats, it is completely obvious just by watching them play. MJ was capable of completely dominating a game and carrying a team on his back, and not just by lighting it up, but by doing what was needed to be done i.e. lockdown defence, creating a steal, a block, whatever. He was so strong mentally that he willed it to happen, and more often than not, it did. Even the flu could not knock him out in the playoffs against Utah, and he carried his team to victory needing IV's to keep him going.

December 16, 2014 @ 1:27 PM

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