For most, the GOAT conversation boils down to MJ vs. LeBron. But every once in a while, you’ll hear Kobe Bryant’s name inserted in the discussion. And most of the time, it’ll be done by an NBA player.
Metta Sandiford Artest is the latest to do it. And although he didn’t go so far as to say Kobe tops everyone else in the discussion, he made sure to let everyone know that’s where his former teammate belongs. But when it came to picking a standout, Artest went with the common answer, giving an edge to MJ over Bryant for one simple reason.
Jordan is strong. That’s the difference between Jordan and Kobe. He is almost as strong as myself and LeBron. Not quite, but right there.Metta Sandiford Artest, Club Shay Shay
Frame-wise, MJ, and Kobe are very similar – Jordan is 6-6, 198, Kobe is 6-6, 212. It’s only after you’ve played against both that you become aware of the sheer power His Airness had on the basketball floor. That’s why even for a guy of Metta’s physical presence, facing MJ was like nothing he’s experienced before.
LeBron was the only guy who came close to matching Jordan’s physicality. Ever since their first NBA matchup, when James put 23 points on Sandiford Artest as a rookie, the 2003-04 Defensive Player of the Year knew the kid from Akron was going to be a problem. But as time went on, he never became as much of a problem as Michael. The same goes for Black Mamba.
I was like, ‘Wow, this is crazy.’ But I did have some good games against LeBron so if I can compare it to LeBron or Kobe; Kobe might’ve given me 40 once, nobody ever scored 50 on me, LeBron might’ve had 40, so if I compare that, I think Jordan was a little bit better than those guys.Metta Sandiford Artest, Club Shay Shay
Metta only faced MJ five times during his stint with the Washington Wizards. Michael averaged 22.4 points, 6 rebounds, and 2.6 assists in those five games, despite no longer being in his prime. Metta, who went by the name of Ron Artest back then, put up 12.8 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per contest and was in awe of how dominant MJ was, even as a 40-year-old.
I was an amazing defender and was like, ‘What the hell is going on?’Metta Sandiford Artest, Club Shay Shay
Throughout the rest of his NBA career, Sandiford Artest remained one of the league’s best defensive players, guarding a plethora of the NBA’s all-time great offensive weapons. But the one who impressed him the most was No.23. And no, he wasn’t wearing the Bulls jersey, nor was he at the peak of his powers. That’s the scary part.