Kobe Bryant is now a five time NBA Champion. He will undoubtedly be a first ballot hall of famer, and he will go down in history as one of the game’s greatest player. However, there is only one goal that Kobe truly cares about, and it is a goal that he will never achieve.
Kobe can’t be like Mike.
The mannerisms of the two superstars are so similar that a diehard Jordan fan may become uncomfortable watching Bryant in action. It seems that everything about Bryant portrays that he wants nothing more than to be the man who was one better than the immortal #23. For all intensive purposes, he revealed his obsession by changing his jersey number to #24. His quest to gain Jordan’s immortality may even supersede his will to win.
For every great Jordan moment, it seems that there is a Kobe moment that just doesn’t measure up in comparison.
When Kobe was a rookie, he struggled to get minutes behind the likes of Eddie Jones. Jordan averaged over 20 points a night and was the league’s rookie of the year. I could repeat this equation enough to have it printed in an algebra book.
For every famous Jordan story told by the media, there is a Kobe story told to the media – by Kobe.
Michael Jordan will always be remembered for his “Flu Game” in the 1997 NBA Finals, the image of him being carried off the court by Scottie Pippen is a part of sports history. In comparison, Bryant made it a point to stress to the media that he suffered injuries to his knee and finger that plagued him throughout the 2010 playoffs.
Quite frankly, superstars are supposed to play through finger injuries, and there isn’t a player in the league over 30 that doesn’t have creaky knees. Unfortunately for Bryant, his feat is not an act of heroism. Michael Jordan scored 38 points while fading in an out of consciousness during a pivotal finals game. I believe there is a difference.Kobe Bryant seemed quite proud of himself for collecting his second Finals MVP award along with his 5th ring. Bryant probably didn’t realize that the trophy he displayed next to him during his championship press conference is more of an indictment than it is an award. Bryant’s two Finals MVP awards tell a story that he would probably like to ignore. Kobe won three NBA Championships as the second best player on his team. Kobe’s record as a leading man consists of a less than stellar string of results. Kobe took the reins as the Lakers top player in 2004, and lost in the Finals to the Detroit Pistons in five games despite a supporting cast that included Shaquille O’Neal, Gary Payton, and Karl Malone. He lost his next trip to the NBA Finals as well (to the Boston Celtics in 2008). The next year, the Lakers finally were able to pick off an overmatched and hobbling Orlando Magic squad (remember that Orlando’s all-star point guard Jameer Nelson could barely run during the 2009 Finals), and Kobe claimed his first Finals MVP. Last week, Kobe accepted his second Finals MVP award after the worst Game 7 shooting performance of anyone to ever be named the series’ MVP. Had the Lakers lost, Kobe’s performance would have gone down as an all-time playoff choke job.
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If Kobe was really like Mike, he would already have seven rings. See, Jordan never lost in the NBA Finals. As a matter of fact, Jordan never let the Bulls play in a NBA Finals game seven, and he was the MVP of every championship team he played on.
Yet and still, Kobe Bryant seems to feel that he can occupy the same clouds as Michael Jordan.
If Kobe Bryant wasn’t a superstar athlete, we would just call him delusional. The reality of the situation is simple. Kobe isn’t chasing Air Jordan. He’s just chasing air.