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Phil Jackson Said The Biggest Difference Between Michael Jordan And Kobe Bryant Was Leadership: "Michael Was Masterful At Controlling The Emotional Climate Of The Team... Kobe Had A Long Way To Go Before He Could Make That Claim."

Phil Jackson Said The Biggest Difference Between Michael Jordan And Kobe Bryant Was Leadership: "Michael Was Masterful At Controlling The Emotional Climate Of The Team... Kobe Had A Long Way To Go Before He Could Make That Claim."

Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant's legacies will forever be intertwined thanks to how nearly identical their styles of play were. MJ was Kobe's idol, and he did everything he could to surpass the Bulls legend. It didn't quite work out that way, most still consider MJ the GOAT, but it's safe to say that Kobe got as close as anyone else since His Airness retired. 

The Lakers great was inducted into the Hall Of Fame by MJ, the two shared quite a close relationship. But perhaps no one person can claim to have known both of them as well as Phil Jackson did. The most successful Head Coach in the history of the NBA, Jackson won 11 rings, 6 of them with the MJ-led Bulls and the next 5 with the Lakers during Kobe Bryant's career. 

Many have speculated about the differences between Bryant and Jordan. Jackson gave his take in his book, Eleven Rings: The Soul Of Success, which came out in 2013. He highlighted the biggest difference between the two players, saying leadership was where they differed the most. 

"Though at times he could be hard on his teammates, Michael was masterful at controlling the emotional climate of the team with the power of his presence. Kobe had a long way to go before he could make that claim. He talked a good game, but he'd yet to experience the cold truth of leadership in his bones, as Michael had."

Kobe famously had many issues with Shaquille O'Neal following their initial three-peat, and things didn't improve for a while following the big man's departure. Bryant eventually figured it out and was instrumental in leading the team to back-to-back titles, something Jackson acknowledged also. 

"It was as if the other players were now his partners, not his personal spear-carriers."

Ultimately, there were other differences between the two as well, but MJ's leadership with the Bulls was a lot more absolute than Kobe's with the Lakers for large parts of their career. That may not have won Jordan too many friends, but it produced results that no one has been able to match since, although Kobe did get close.