June 26, 1996.
Kobe Bryant - Freshly graduated from Lower Merion High School - Was drafted 13th by the Charlotte Hornets of the National Basketball Association. He was quickly traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for starting center, Vlade Divac. At 17 years old, he was, at the time, the youngest player in NBA history.
Michael Jordan - 10 days prior to the NBA draft, won his fourth championship, on father's day, concluding in a memorable scene where he lies on his stomach in the locker room, game ball in hand, in tears. His own significance of winning on father's day was, and still is, a testament to his late father, who was murdered three years before, which many believe is the main reason why he quit the game of basketball following the 1993 finals. It also symbolized his return to greatness at the age of 33, which is considered to be the twilight of a player's career.
Ever since, the two have been constantly locked in comparison and greatness arguments. As Kobe, for years, has been labeled "The Next Michael Jordan", while MJ is widely regarded as the greatest basketball player to have ever graced the Earth. Michael is known throughout the league as the most dominating and morale-shattering athlete to ever play, while Kobe is know, arguably, as the most skilled player to ever play. Their similarities are remarkable, both play the same position, are roughly the same size, played the majority of their careers under Phil Jackson, won MVP awards, etc etc.
But now, it's time for my take.
Kobe came into the league as a lanky teenager, who was raved for his outstanding offensive game. Many said he would need time to develop, gain muscle and adjust to the physical game of the NBA. In his prime, though, he was an athletic phenomenon.
Michael came into the league as a stud player, and was dubbed a "can't miss". He weighed slightly less than Kobe when he came into the league, but he was four years older, and had college experience under his belt.
As far as their careers go, both have won slam dunk contests, and both have had their fair share of slam dunk highlight reels. Kobe is arguably one of the quickest and agile 2 Guards to have ever played, but Jordan was the stronger, tougher player, who didn't show signs of slowing down, like Kobe already has. It is obvious that Kobe isn't the same athletic player that he once was, and that may be due to 13 seasons in the league, but Michael, unlike Kobe, played 80+ games with the Bulls in all but two seasons, and was always the #1 man, the #1 target.
Edge: Michael. Longevity.
We all know Michael led the league in scoring damn near every season he was a Bull. He easily would have been first all time if he never retired in '94, and played through '98 until 2003. However, to me, his offensive game isn't as cerebral and skilled as Kobe's. Michael was a great finisher, and a good shooter, but his hands and athletic ability helped him a great deal in attaining multiple scoring titles.
Kobe's game heavily relies on his skill and awareness on offense, which makes him the most dangerous offensive players in the game today, and, to me, of all time. Playing basketball with pure skill is the ultimate testament to hard work, determination, and dedication to the game.
Edge: Kobe. Boy got SKILLS . As simple as that.
Should be obvious. This is what set Michael's legacy apart from all of the other great guards in history.
Kobe is a great defender, but lately, he doesn't play real defense until the last 5 minutes of the fourth.
Michael went out every night looking to score 30, and hold the opposing star perimeter to 10. Granted, he had Scottie Pippen's help, but winning a DPOY award says it all for Michael Jordan. His dedication and motivation to play defense
Edge: Michael. Can't argue without a trophy, Kobe.
Kobe is the Black Mamba. He can score on anything, at anytime, and he believes that he can. Lately, his mindset is to win games, no matter what, whether it's scoring 40 or scoring 20 and facilitating. He has a thirst for the win more than any other player that I have ever seen, and as he gets older, his will to win grows larger.
Michael also was a player that wants to do whatever it takes to win. However, the difference between the two is that he has this almost sadistic desire to dominate the other team, and is hell bent on having the game in his control, while coming out with the W.
Edge: None. Your preference.
Finally, in my opinion, the two are pretty much evenly matched, however, it's Jordan's athletic body, which withstood 14-15 seasons of being the #1 man on a team, without missing much of a step, along with his superior defensive dedication and ability, gives him the edge over Kobe.
Just my Two Cents.