Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant are the two greatest shooting guards to have ever played the game. Their dominance and impact on the game on and off the court were unprecedented, and they might be the two most competitive athletes ever. As a result, it is expected that they would be compared to one another.
Michael Jordan won 6 NBA titles as a player, but it took him 6 years to win his first. It all started out with his 1985 campaign, where he had arguably the most dominant rookie season ever. Kobe Bryant earned his first and only MVP Award in 2008, but many felt it was long overdue. By comparing the rookie campaign of Jordan to the MVP season of Bryant, here is what we deduced.
Michael Jordan’s Rookie Season
28.2 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 5.9 APG, 2.4 SPG, 0.8 BPG, 51.5% FG, 17.3% 3-PT FG, 84.5% FT
Michael Jordan's rookie campaign might have been the best ever. To many pundits watching the NBA in 1985, Jordan was already the best player in the world. Averaging 28.2 PPG and running away with the Rookie of the Year, we were in a new era of dominance.
Jordan made his first All-Star Team in 1985 as well, playing all 82 games and completing 38.3 MPG. Clearly, players do not do this anymore. Jordan was near-perfection in his rookie campaigns statistically, as he was efficient from the floor and dominant on both ends. The only issue was that Jordan failed to win in the first round of the playoffs as a 21-year old but the fact that he made it was a massive plus.
Kobe Bryant’s MVP Season
28.3 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 5.4 PG, 1.8 SPG, 0.5 BPG, 45.9% FG, 36.1% 3-PT FG, 84.0% FT
Kobe Bryant was long overdue for an MVP Award. Despite scoring 81 points and carrying arguably the worst Lakers team every season in 2006, he couldn't win MVP over Steve Nash. Nash had a better team record, but Kobe was the best player in the league.
Bryant had similar numbers to rookie Michael Jordan. He averaged 28.3 PPG and shot a decent clip from the field for a gunner like Bryant. What stands out the most was Bryant's proficiency from deep, which massively usurps Jordan's shooting. Of course, the league didn't find the 3-point shoot relevant in the '80s than they did in the 2000s, so that makes sense.
Bryant made the NBA Finals in 2008, running into a superteam Celtics squad with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. It was an impressive season for the MVP, and he would earn his dues the next 2 years by winning back-to-back championships.
Was Rookie MJ Better Than MVP Kobe?
The answer is yes, no, maybe. In all seriousness, it is very close but the edge goes to The Mamba. Jordan had similar stats to Kobe Bryant, but he was only a rookie! Jordan was already the best player in the game at 21 years old while MVP Kobe was in his prime at 29 years of age. Kobe had more time under his belt and that's why he made the NBA Finals as an experienced player.
Michael Jordan deserves a ton of credit for putting up the stats and making an All-Star team in his first year, but he didn't have the team success that Bryant had. Therefore, the answer of who had a better season has to go to the more successful star. Jordan put up similar numbers to a prime Kobe as a rookie, but Kobe had more success in the postseason. Making the Finals is no easy task and Bryant's magical year earned him that spot against one of the best teams over the past 20 years.
In conclusion, Michael Jordan is the greatest player of all time. While Kobe and Jordan's stats were similar in their campaigns, the fact that Jordan accomplished what he did as a rookie is unparalleled. It can be argued that Kobe Bryant's MVP season was better than Jordan's rookie season, but the comparison itself lends itself to Jordan being the best ever.
Bryant is widely considered a top-10 player of all time, and Jordan's rookie season is being compared to his MVP campaign. That is extraordinary, and the comparison can be summed up like this. Kobe won the battle, Jordan won the war.
Jordan used his rookie season to become the best player ever, whereas Kobe's MVP season was his apex. The GOAT gets the last laugh, but Kobe had the better campaign in this comparison.