NBA Legend, Who Has Faced Both Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan, Makes Surprising Claim on the Greater Player

Published 05/28/2022, 2:30 PM EDT
Lakers legend Kobe Bryant (8), talking to Michael Jordan (23) during the 2003 NBA All-Star game, first met the Bulls superstar at age 13.(Andrew D. Bernstein / NBAE via Getty Images)

It’s not difficult to comprehend how Michael Jordan influenced Kobe Bryant. Bryant’s subtle aesthetic parallels with Jordan were on full show from the minute “Black Mamba” embraced the league. From their air-bending prowess that saw them glide to the basket to sinking contested mid-rangers with defenders guarding their soul, everything Bryant did resembled Jordan. Tracy McGrady, however, thinks Bryant would outperform Jordan in a one-on-one showdown.

McGrady was a cold-blooded assassin in his prime. He is perhaps one of the most spectacular scorers in basketball history. McGrady is well-versed in everything the legend brought to the game, as he had some tremendous matchups with Bryant.

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T-Mac recently praised Kobe Bryant on ESPN’s First Take, where he came to promote his new one-on-one league. He claimed that Bryant is the most skillful player he’s ever seen. McGrady had zero doubts that the Lakers’ legend is the greatest; at least in one-on-one.

“Kobe Bean Bryant. He’s the greatest one-on-one player I’ve ever competed against, and not just because of his skillset. It’s because of his mentality. He was just a certified killer,” T-Mac said.

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“I see MJ & Kobe, but Kobe enhanced those skillsets that he took from Michael Jordan. The ball-handling skills. The fadeaways. I think Kobe is the most skilled basketball player that I’ve ever seen over Michael Jordan,” he added.

Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan?

Michael Jordan influenced Kobe Bryant’s phenomenal career the most, that much is certain. Despite having different NBA careers, Kobe could never avoid the parallels to his idol growing up. Their physical characteristics appeared to be strikingly similar. Both were 6 feet 6 inches tall and operated as shooting guards.

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant and Chicago Bulls guard Michael Jordan talk during a free-throw attempt during the fourth quarter of a game at the United Center in Chicago on Dec. 17, 1997. CREDITS: Vincent Laforet / AFP/Getty Images

Jordan and Bryant’s appearance, style, and pregame preparation were identical. Even Bryant admitted that Jordan taught him everything he knew and was the source of his talents. Their work ethic and mentality, however, were maybe their most prevalent characteristics. Both expected excellence from their teammates and everyone around them, as well as from themselves, night in and night out.

Bryant is broadly accepted as one of the greatest players in Lakers history. He brought his Mamba Mentality out every time he stepped on the court and that is what set him apart. While Michael Jordan’s competitiveness and hunger to conquer everything separated him from his adversaries. His 6-0 record in NBA finals speaks for itself.

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Jordan was nearing the end of his career by the time Bryant entered the NBA. They did, however, collide a few times, and despite him being in the twilight of his career, Jordan gave the Mamba a run for his money.

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There is still no perfect response as to who among the two is superior in one-on-one basketball. But given the passion and intensity both these titans brought to the court, it would be a tough call.

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Ritvik Malhotra

103 articles

Ritvik is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. Having completed his Bachelor's in Journalism and Mass Communication from Amity University, Ritvik has finally got his foot in the door as a professional sports writer. He previously interned at another media house where he authored over 150 soccer articles, but he is now writing about his primary obsession, basketball.

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