Did Kobe Bryant Copy Michael Jordan? A Look Into the Lakers Superstar’s NBA Game

Published 04/22/2021, 3:57 PM EDT


Kobe Bryant was arguably one of the best players basketball has ever seen. Be it his electrifying scoring or his on-court leadership skills, Kobe was one of the most influential players of his generation.

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In his 20 year NBA career, ‘Mamba’ had a whooping 18 All-Star appearances, five championships, two finals MVPs and one regular season MVP trophy. But his play style has an eerie similarity to another legend of the game, Michael Jordan. Did Kobe Bryant actually copy Michael Jordan?

Comparisons of the play styles of Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan

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Both MJ and Kobe might have played in very different eras of basketball, but the similarities in their game was visible. Bryant might have played in an era where the three point shooting became much more prominent, but his mid-range game was pretty reminiscent of MJ.

Observing the shot-chart of the last four seasons Jordan played, it is clear how lethal His Airness was from the mid-range. Kobe’s chart doesn’t disappoint either. His numbers on the paint and from the mid-range are better than league average.

Contrary to MJ, Bryant even had more attempts from the three point line and a much varied shot-chart compared to an ageing Jordan. Both the legends even were supremely talented in the defensive end.

Having the ability to lock down opposition’s best players, Kobe and MJ had significant impact on both ends of the floor. While MJ did have a lower defensive rating (102.7) than Kobe (105.5), given that MJ played with another elite defender in Scottie Pippen, Kobe’s impact cannot be underestimated on the floor.

Apart from all the major stat lines, Jordan and Kobe were undoubtedly stand out leaders in their respective teams. While many players can be great performances on the court, leadership is a rather innate quality.

Kobe not only learnt from the best of the game, he shaped his game according to the modern NBA, developing a better jump shot and thus becoming an icon and an idol for many of the young players in the league.

Kobe speaks about MJ’s influence in his game

While Bryant might have been a dominant players of his time, he was never shy of accepting the fact that MJ indeed had a massive impact on his game. In an interview with ESPN, Bryant agreed to indeed taking inspiration from Jordan.

Kobe said, “I studied every player. Then once I came back to the States [and] I realized I wasn’t going to be 6-9, I started studying Michael exclusively.”

Bryant then exclaimed about how willing Jordan actually was in teaching him about the game. “And then when I came to the league and [was] matching up against him, what I found is that he was extremely open to having a mentor relationship and giving me a great amount of advice and an amazing amount of detail, strategies, workout regimen and things like that.”

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He added, “Seriously, I don’t think people really understand the amount of impact that he’s had on me as a player and as a leader.

Jordan also agreed to the same. In an interview when asked about who he would like to play one-on-one, Jordan said that only Kobe might have beat him saying, “I don’t think I‘d lose, other than to Kobe Bryant because he steals all of my moves.”

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They might be compared regularly, but there is no denying the respect Kobe and MJ had for one another. Bryant might be the closest player to Michael Jordan this league might have seen.

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Aditya Mohapatra

685 articles

Aditya Mohapatra is a sports enthusiast who primarily covers the NBA for EssentiallySports. Having graduated in Mass Communication, he has prior experience in writing for ABP News, and has been writing for EssentiallySports since November 2020. This die-hard Los Angeles Lakers fan feels that LeBron James is the best thing to have ever happened to the NBA, and will hold a healthy debate with anyone suggesting otherwise.

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