Debates continue to rage around LeBron James, Michael Jordan and several other legends of the league, including on TV sets. However, a figure of the league assured that Jordan and Scottie Pippen would have made a mouthful of LeBron and Kobe Bryant.
LeBron James, Michael Jordan: two legends who have never had the opportunity to face each other on an NBA floor but who, despite this, continue to unleash the crowds tirelessly. Debates abound as to who is the better of the two, while sometimes other great players are added to the conversation.
On ESPN’s First Take, Max Kellerman and Stephen A. Smith decided to broaden the discussion a bit. A duel between Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen and LeBron James and Kobe Bryant: who would win? In a hectic sequence, the two insiders rewrote history by defending their respective sides.
Stephen A. Smith: « Kobe Bryant is not considered the best because he and MJ obviously played the same position and you’re always going to take MJ first. […] One of the main reasons LeBron James is compared to Michael Jordan is because he came into the NBA giving everyone the impression that he wanted to dethrone Jordan.
If you look at Kobe’s game, his game reflects MJ more than LeBron’s. LeBron just announced to the world that he wanted to dethrone MJ and that’s why everyone is drawing these comparisons. »
Smith: « Neither Kobe nor LeBron played better defense than MJ and Pippen. Neither of them. »
Kellerman: « They would have been slightly worse defensively and even better offensively, and overall, a LeBron-Kobe duo in their prime would have been even better than MJ and Pippen. »
Smith: What would MJ and Pippen have done back then, so soft?
Kellerman: They would have broken it up.
Smith: Again, their defense is elite. When the Bulls beat the Lakers in the Finals, Pippen put Magic in his pocket. LeBron has never been the defender that Pippen is. He’s not even close.
Together, Jordan and Pippen had earned the reputation of being invincible in the 1990s. They were, for many, the best duo in history, a perfect blend of offensive power and defensive wall. But with today’s tougher rules, would they still be as dominant on the floor? That’s another question that gives us plenty of food for thought.