Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen are regarded as the best duo in NBA history thanks to their 6 NBA championships, while Kobe Bryant and LeBron James are both considered the best players in the game since Michael Jordan decided to hang it up. While each player has their specific skillset and special attributes, who would win if they were to play each other? More specifically, would the all-time great duo of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen defeat the pairing of Kobe Bryant and LeBron James?
Michael and Scottie are two defensive specialists who complement each other on offense as well. Pippen is an exceptional playmaker while MJ might be the single greatest scorer in NBA history. Similarly, LeBron James might be the greatest playmaker at the forward position ever while Kobe Bryant is a photocopy of Michael Jordan as a scorer. To pit these all-time great players in a 2-on-2 battle, here is an analysis of who comes out on top.
Michael Jordan vs. Kobe Bryant
This matchup is about pure will and skill, and this will be the most exciting matchup by far. As great as Scottie and LeBron are, they don’t have that killer will that both these guys have and that is what will make or break this matchup. Jordan is recognized as an obsessed winner and an ultra competitor, while Kobe Bryant followed in his footsteps in the same way. Kobe wanted to eliminate all competition and wanted to be the single greatest player ever, which MJ is widely regarded as.
MJ and Kobe will go like for like in terms of offensive production, without much to separate them. MJ has the efficiency and patience on offense, while Kobe Bryant can make any shot anywhere on the court. MJ might be the slightly better player thanks to his efficiency, Kobe Bryant will not go down without a fight and this matchup will be even. The only reason the edge goes to Jordan slightly is that he is slightly larger than Kobe and will be able to get a few extra defensive stops which will be critical.
Advantage: Michael Jordan
Scottie Pippen vs. LeBron James
This matchup will be about complementing hungry superstar shooting guards. Pippen is one of the best sidekicks in NBA history and made his name and his fame with his lockdown defense and playmaking alongside Michael Jordan. Pippen is very unselfish and wants to win as much as Jordan, which makes him a tough opponent in a 2-on-2 matchup. LeBron James has never been a sidekick in his career and has always been the best player on his team, but he will play a role similar to Scottie Pippen in terms of making plays for Bryant whenever possible.
Scottie and LeBron play a similar style although LeBron James is just a better player. LeBron is stronger and more athletic and is a step above Scottie with his playmaking. While he doesn’t possess Pippen’s defensive prowess, LeBron’s ability to attack the rim and score thanks to his physical strength gives him a huge advantage. Pippen is no slouch offensively, but LeBron is a force of nature and he has the edge in this matchup.
Advantage: LeBron James
This one will go down to the wire. MJ and Kobe will lead both of their squads in scoring, while LeBron and Pippen lead in assists and rebounds. Stats aside, this will be a back and forth all game long. MJ and Kobe trade buckets with the score tied 15-15, with a Win-By-2 looking further and further away from happening. Both duos are just too close in terms of talent and impact and it will be destined to go down to the wire. LeBron makes a long jumper to give him and Kobe the lead 17-15 before Jordan goes ballistic with 3 straight buckets. Pippen and Jordan begin to set picks for one another which gives MJ enough space to attack off the switch for drives and pull-ups. With the score 19-17 in Jordan and Pippen’s favor, it looks like the game is almost over.
Kobe Bryant nails two straight jumpers to even it at 19, making it a nail biter. Pippen finishes with a dunk before LeBron nails another long jumper to put him and Kobe up 21-20. In the most crucial moment of the game, Pippen tips a LeBron layup after Kobe cleans up Jordan’s miss and MJ later hits a jumper to even it at 21. LeBron had a clear lane to the bucket but Pippen somehow recovered to challenge the shot. Kobe misses a jumper and MJ proceeds to deliver 2 final blows to cap off a sensational 23-21 win for MJ and Pippen. This game could have legitimately gone either way, but MJ and Pippen sneak away with a victory despite a valiant effort from LeBron and Kobe.
In the end, MJ and Pippen are able to get a few defensive stops when it counts the most. LeBron’s rim drives will be challenged exceptionally well by Pippen and Kobe will miss a few tough shots to close the game. MJ’s efficiency on offense and his unbelievable chemistry with Scottie Pippen mean they are possibly the most unbeatable duo in NBA history.
Michael Jordan & Scottie Pippen vs. Kobe Bryant & LeBron James 23-21