Kobe Bryant as the Michael Jordan of this generation (and what that means)

young kobe bryant defends michael jordan

In the world of sports, it often takes one individual’s brilliance over a decade (or two) to change the game altogether. That specific player gets celebrated and is often regarded as a legend in that game– not just in the city they represented, but for the entire sport.

One of these transcedent players is Kobe Bryant, who announced his retirement after the 2015-16 season. His last games have resulted in the league heaping praise on the NBA superstar. Teams are holding special ceremonies before the game for Bryant.

What turns out to be a forgettable game between a terrible Lakers team and an even-worse Philadelphia 76ers team becomes a sold out affair because fans want to see the legend one more time.

And Kobe’s peers are sending out the shooting guard with the highest form of honor; comparing him to the greatest player ever, Michael Jordan.

Kobe is the Jordan of our Generation

When Kobe was in his prime, you couldn’t surf the internet forums without eventually coming across a heated discussion about who was better: Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan. Thousands of posts have been dedicated to going over the achievements and accomplishments of both players. The comparisons will never stop, and it didn’t help that Kobe seemingly copied MJ at every turn; everything from on-court moves, the way he walked, to the way he celebrated.

No less than a handful of NBA players have all but confirmed that Kobe is the Jordan of their generation.

Dirk Nowitzki: “He’s The Michael Jordan Of Our Generation

Derrick Rose: “He’s our [generation’s] Michael Jordan.

Dwyane Wade: “For this generation, Kobe is our Michael Jordan

James Harden: “He was my MJ.”

“Everyone give it up for this generation’s Michael Jordan” said Jamal Crawford before a Seattle Pro-Am game. “He’s my M.J.” said Ty Lawson. Chris Bosh said that Bryant was “Greatest player of my generation,” but followed with “He was that guy after Mike that really just won, and he was about winning championships.

No matter what angle you look at these comments from, it’s an enormous compliment to be compared to Michael Jordan. It’s clear that Kobe Bryant is a first ballot Hall of Famer and a no-brainer, all-time great.

Looking Deeper into the “Jordan of our Generation”

If you’d like, if you analyze the “Kobe is the Jordan of our generation” comments, you’ll realize that the praise from Kobe’s peers are essentially a reply to all those early discussions of whether Kobe Bryant was better than Michael Jordan.

It’s clear that they believe that Jordan is the GOAT. Whether intentional or not, Wade, Nowitzki, and Rose are all saying is that Jordan is better than Kobe. It’s not a backhanded compliment by any means, but the implications of the words have more meaning.

Think about it: to invoke Jordan’s name as the the player to compare inherently places Kobe below Jordan. Removing the names, the sentence looks like this “[player] is the [usually better player] of our generation.”

I’m from Michigan and grew up watching Joe Dumars, but one would never say “Kobe is the Joe Dumars of our generation”. No disrespect to Joe D, but Kobe is the better player, so the only time you would make that type of comparison is if they’re similar or somewhat similar.

Or as Piston Powered wrote when Brandon Jennings said Kobe was better than Jordan:

Anecdotally, Jennings calling Kobe “the Michael Jordan of our generation” should be a pretty strong indicator Jordan was better. Nobody calls Jordan “the Kobe Bryant of his generation” for a reason.

Looking even deeper, the “of our generation” means that Kobe is the greatest shooting guard of his era, specifically the Jordan of that specific era. Nothing to sneeze at whatsoever, but the caveats are clear.

Rare is the “Kobe is the GOAT” comments and that’s for good reason. Even Wade, Nowitzki and Rose know that. If they believed Kobe was better then they would have left Jordan’s name out of the conversation.

Kobe Bryant may be the Michael Jordan of this generation, but Michael Jordan is incomparable.

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