The NBA has been filled with a lot of hypothetical questions over the past couple of years, with fans and analysts trying to compare players from different eras and speculate on who will be the best if they went against each other. One of the biggest arguments in recent times has been how Michael Jordan would’ve fared in this era against players that have evolved and have more gifted physics.
The comparisons will always point out at LeBron James and who would’ve won if they’ve played a one-on-one game. Well, Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman of ESPN tried to spice things a little more, bringing up a hypothetical matchup between duos, with Michael Jordan teaming up with Scottie Pippen against LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. Back in 2018, when he made his debut with the Lakers, LeBron James posted a pic of himself with Kobe, wondering what would have happened if they shared touches in the league.
Well, they discussed that topic on First Take to see what could have happened. While Kellerman made the case for the Lakers duo, Stephen A. was convinced James and Bryant weren’t competition for MJ and Pippen (3:36 minute mark).
“Kobe Bryant isn’t considered the best ever because obviously MJ and him played the same position and we’ll take MJ first. …One of the biggest reasons that LeBron James is compared to Michael Jordan is because LeBron James came into the NBA giving everybody’s indications he was coming for Jordan. If you look at Kobe’s game, his game mirrored MJ more than LeBron’s ever did, it’s just that LeBron announced to the world he was coming for MJ and that’s why everybody looks for those comparisons.”
Max Kellerman took those words and made a little exercise, telling Stephen A. that Kobe and LeBron would’ve been like Jordan and a super Pippen (LeBron), claiming that they would have gotten unbeaten against anybody. As to that, Stephen A. replied that the Lakers duo wasn’t as good as the Bulls’, defensively.
Smith: “Neither Kobe nor LeBron played defense better than MJ and Pippen. Neither of them.”
Kellerman: “They would have been slightly lesser defensively and even better offensively, and on the whole, a LeBron-Kobe pairing in their primes would have been even better than MJ and Pippen.”
Stephen A. brought up the differences between MJ and Pippen’s era against Kobe and LeBron’s.
Smith: “What would MJ and Pippen have done in this era, in terms of how soft it is?”
Kellerman: “Killed it.”
Smith: “And again, their defense is elite. When the Bulls beat the Lakers in the Finals, Pippen picked up Magic. LeBron has never been the defender Pippen is. Is not even close.”
These hypothetical scenarios will always bring a lot of controversies and nobody will be happy with the final result (which is unclear most of the time). It would have been awesome to see these duos going against each other on the court, but that’s never going to happen. Still, it looks like more people would side with Kobe and LeBron on this one, while Stephen A. is convinced Jordan and Pippen would have beaten end without any problems.