Michael Jordan – The Best of All Time Kobe Bryant has been in the NBA now for seventeen years and, for much of that time, there has been a lot of talk as to whether he or Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time. Like most women, I’ve never been all that interested in sports and became so mainly because of my husband’s interest and that of my soon-to-be thirteen year old son. Since the 1990s, however, I’ve come to learn that there are players and there are elite players, and Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant are absolutely two of the best ever. They share a number of striking similarities, including an unmatched determination and will to win, but they also differ in a lot of ways, particularly when it comes to individual accomplishments. That is where the similarities end, and Jordan stands alone, on top, as the best player of all time. Both Bryant and Jordan entered the league as heralded players. Michael Jordan won a national championship with the University of North Carolina in his freshman year, defeating Georgetown University, and was the national college player of the year the next two. In 1996, Kobe Bryant, at eighteen years of age, came to the Lakers by way of trade after graduating from high school as one of the best high school basketball players in the country. Like Jordan, he was known as a high-flyer because of their style of play. When each entered the league, his respective team had been on a downhill slide for years. Jordan was drafted with the third pick in the 1984 draft by the Chicago Bulls, a team that hadn’t seen prominence since the mid-1970s. In his first season, Jordan was named Rookie of the Year and to the NBA All-Star team. Though it would take several years before the team would win a championship, Jordan did help the Bulls to gain respect around the league within just a few years. In Bryant’s first season with the Lakers, he would win the NBA slam dunk contest and also lead the team into the playoffs. Similar to Jordan, it would also be a few years before Bryant’s Lakers would succeed at winning a championship.Both men, also, similarly seemed to know what his team needed to win and demanded it of himself and teammates. Jordan had Scottie Pippen as his running mate, and Bryant benefited from playing alongside Shaquille O’Neal while winning championships and, now, has Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard, and Steve Nash. Likewise, the same bulldog determination and will to win that each possessed was fueled by their high basketball IQs. What this resulted in was an almost unbelievable success at winning championships, for both of them. Jordan retired with six, and Bryant has won five, so far, with the opportunity to still win a sixth. One of the biggest differences between the two stars is their individual NBA awards. One of the things I often think about is how many more championships Jordan might have won if only he had the supporting cast that Bryant played with in each of his championship seasons, or if he had not sat out two seasons to try his hand at baseball. Jordan had the misfortune of having Jerry Reinsdorf as owner of the Bulls and Jerry Krause as general manager yet the team was successful in spite of those obstacles. Jerry Buss, owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, on-the-other-hand, was every players and coaches dream. Buss put players around Bryant that would ensure his and the Lakers’ success. Jordan was the Finals MVP each and every one of the six seasons the Bulls won their championships, compared to only two for Bryant during his Laker run. Jordan was also MVP of the entire NBA five times, but Bryant not once. He was also Defensive Player of the Year once and, as previously mentioned, Rookie of the Year. Great as Bryant is, these are awards he was never able to capture.