Nowadays when we are talking about who is the GOAT, it is mostly a two-man race between Michael Jordan and LeBron James. But back in 2006 former player and coach, and now a commentator and analyst Mark Jackson was confident that Kobe Bryant will end up as the greatest player that has ever lived.
He backed up his statement saying that the only thing in which MJ was superior to Kobe was lockdown defense. But when it comes to shooting, ball handling, and scoring, Kobe had the edge.
Also when asked who would he want at the end of the game with the ball, he said it is a coin toss, but eventually he wanted Kobe. MJ’s former teammate Scottie Pippen, who was in the studio with Jackson strongly disagreed with him. Pippen thought it was premature because Kobe was too young at the time and playing on a bad team so that he could get a lot of shots and notch big stats.
To be fair, back in 2006 Kobe was having the best individual season of his career. He was averaging 35.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game while basically leading his Lakers into the playoffs alone. It was also around the time he was making history books with his insane records like dropping 81 points versus the Raptors or scoring 62 points in 3 quarters versus the Mavs.
Kobe and MJ were being compared for the whole of Kobe’s career with a reason. They had a very similar game and the same array of moves. Shooting guards, great scorers, loved to play with the back to the basket and shot fade aways, very competitive, take great pride in defense and etc.
Still, no matter how great Kobe was, there are rare fans that would say he managed to catch up to Jordan. But he sure was one of the closest.