What was the biggest difference in Michael Jordan’s and Kobe Bryant’s game?


Tons of differences.

To the casual fan, they look pretty similar, but there’s some several key differences.

One is athleticism – Jordan (especially young Jordan) had an absolutely massive vertical leap of 48′ and was able to get over almost any defender for an acrobatic layup or dunk. Kobe has a much lower vertical leap of 38′ and while he could still definitely dunk (he did win a dunk contest after all) he does not have the same hang time as His Airness and generally has a tougher time getting to the rim compared to Jordan

another is basketball IQ – Jordan had very high BBIQ and knew when to use every move in his arsenal. Kobe while he has the exact same moves as Jordan (cause he stole them from Jordan), he doesn’t quite know when or how to use it. Jordan for example would create a lot of space on his fadeaway, only uses it when he knows a dunk or a layup is out of the question, and releases his shot right at the apex of his jumper, whereas Kobe (and many others such as Tmac and KG) doesn’t create as much space on their fadeaway jumper, doesn’t release it at their absolute apex, and many times would use the fadeaway even when there was a better higher percentage shot available. Kobe’s shot selection is far worse than Jordan’s – to the tune of 5% worse efficiency compared to Jordan for his whole career. More missed shots means Kobe has to rely on having dominant bigs on his team to help rebound his shots – this is why Kobe needs to have guys like Shaq, Gasol and Odom on his team in order to win whereas Jordan never needed to have a dominant rebounder (yes he had Rodman but he won without Rodman too). Kobe would often iso and then force shots way too much even when he was heavily covered and that’s something Jordan wouldn’t do either, because Jordan played in the triangle much better than Kobe did (Phil Jackson can tell you that himself if you read The Last Season)

passing ability is another one – Jordan was deemed a ball hog earlier in his career but was actually legit a great passer and in fact averaged 8 APG in the 1989 season when he played PG for part of the season. Jordan actually had PG skills and could play PG if the situation demanded it. Kobe on the other hand, wasn’t a great passer and somewhat ironically started out unselfishly when he was young but then turned into more of a ball hog during his prime. Kobe never had PG skills like Jordan did and could never play PG because he didn’t have Jordan’s passing abilities.

defense is another one – Jordan was not only a DPOY (Kobe was never) but Jordan could lockdown opposing matchups regularly – this is why Jordan never had ‘duels’ with anyone. He never had any scoring duels because the other guy never scored that much on him! Kobe on the other hand – had scoring duels with virtually all the star scorers of his era – from Iverson to Tmac to Brandon Roy to Gilbert Arenas to Ray Allen to Melo etc because he never locked anyone down! In the Finals, he’s been outplayed by Rip Hamilton, Jalen Rose and Paul Pierce, just to name a few. And your favourite player has probably dropped 30+ on Kobe (mine was Jeremy Lin who had a career high 38 vs Kobe!). The casuals will just talk up Kobe’s 12x All-Def without watching the games and seeing if he actually deserved them or not (he didn’t)

Take this as an example: PRIME Penny Hardaway vs (older) Jordan – Jordan absolutely dominated him

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FXqQPpk0GnA

Now look at post injury Penny Hardaway on the Suns dominating Kobe. It’s not even close.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHHRb-rpKVk&t=93s

Here’s another example: old Wizards Jordan vs prime Iverson. Yes Iverson outscored him, but Jordan was still able to perform very well given that he was well past his prime here.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHVqbvXHsCo

Now look at PRIME Kobe vs old Nuggets Iverson. Iverson dropped 51!! while Kobe had 25. So while post prime Jordan was able to hold his own against prime Iverson, old Iverson was outplaying prime Kobe!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDKRY5d31VY

Here’s old Wizards Jordan holding Latrell Sprewell to 6pts

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2iY2mTKYPRE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MdpdrVUbVcg

Here’s Latrell Sprewell giving it to Kobe (exact same season too)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pj3q8M2pQcA

Which goes to show just how big the gap is between Kobe and Jordan.

Note that I haven’t even talked about the stats and awards, which Jordan dominates Kobe in every category.