Before it was LeBron vs. MJ, it was Kobe vs. MJ. You can argue for days and pick out specific moments (in my mind, it was never that close), but there is one guy who had a close working relationship with both of them. When asked to compare Kobe and Michael, Phil Jackson immediately mentioned one thing.
“It’s gotta be MJ; he’s got that hand. He’s got that glove. But when a guy can pick up the ball with one hand when he’s dribbling like Michael could do and take the ball to the basket, it’s very difficult (to stop him).”
You never consider hand size as athletic ability, but it gives you an advantage as much as speed, agility, or vertical leap. Being able to grip the ball better makes your life easier in many regards, and MJ knows it. Here he is explaining the importance of his hand size and how much he can learn about his game and his shot in relation to his hand.
Teams are trying to evolve on the way they perceive athletic ability. Houston Rockets started to measure neck length and factor it in assessing a player’s height – shorter neck implies longer body and limbs for the same height. So don’t be surprised if suddenly hand size and wingspan ratio are on the screen during the draft.
If you are in the “MJ is the GOAT” camp, there’s another point to make. Not that you needed one.