When it comes down to the NBA’s GOAT debate, it’s usually between Michael Jordan and LeBron James. Jordan’s former teammate, Scottie Pippen, said he believed Kobe Bryant was a better player than Jordan which raised a few eyebrows. Bryant’s name frequently comes into the conversation but is usually at least a distant third place.
Jordan played 15 seasons in the NBA, 13 of them with the Chicago Bulls. His career spanned 19 seasons as he took a year off to play professional baseball and then retired for three seasons before coming back with the Washington Wizards. For 10 of his 13 seasons with the Bulls, Jordan led the NBA in scoring average.
Jordan finished his career with six NBA titles and was named the league’s Most Valuable Player five times. Not only was Jordan dominant offensively but he was also named to the NBA All-Defensive Team for nine seasons. He was a three-time steals champ and he was a 14-time NBA All-Star. Jordan finished his career by averaging 30.1 points and 6.2 rebounds per game.
Kobe Bryant’s NBA career
Kobe Bryant spent 20 seasons in the NBA, all with the Los Angeles Lakers. Bryant was drafted right out of high school by the Charlotte Hornets. The Hornets traded Bryant to the Lakers for Vlade Divac before he ever played a game in Charlotte.
Bryant was a five-time NBA champion and was named the league’s Most Valuable Player during the 2007-08 season. He led the league in scoring in back-to-back seasons beginning with the 2005-06 season when he averaged 35.4 points per game in 80 games. He followed that season by averaging 31.4 points per game.
Like Michael Jordan, Bryant was a very strong defender. He was named to the NBA All-Defensive Team for 12 of his 20 seasons. He was also an 18-time NBA All-Star. Bryant third on the league’s all-time scoring list until LeBron James passed him in January. Bryant finished his career by averaging 25 points and 5.2 rebounds per game.
Scottie Pippen said Bryant was better than Jordan
Although the numbers clearly show that Michael Jordan was statistically a better player than Kobe Bryant, Scottie Pippen thinks otherwise. Maybe it’s because Pippen is unhappy with the way he was portrayed in ESPN’s docuseries The Last Dance, which was about the Chicago Bulls’ final run as a dynasty. Maybe Pippen really believes Bryant is the better player.
In an interview with Thuzio, Pippen said after sitting down and watching more videos of Bryant, he believes he is better than Jordan. “Kobe was a very intelligent guy and he believed in striving to be the best,” Pippen said. “I hate that we didn’t tell him how great he really was because he strived so hard to be Michael Jordan. When I go back and look at his videos and I say to myself, ‘damn, he was better than Michael Jordan.’
“This kid came out of high school. He didn’t go play for a North Carolina, under a Dean Smith. He worked at his craft. God rest his soul.”