New York Knicks President Phil Jackson may be the person most adequately experienced to clarify the Michael Jordan/Kobe Bryant debate and he has recently shed more light on the psychological parley between the pair.
Bryant's unrivalled work ethic
Jackson has revealed that despite believing that Jordan was a better leader than Bryant, that the 'black mamba' beat MJ in one important category, his dedication to training.
The debate between Kobe and MJ has been reignited after Jackson was asked how his latest superstar Carmelo Anthony would fit in the mould of his triangle offence, and whether Anthony should approach the model much like Kobe did.
Jackson emphatically responded: "No. No one can approach that. I don’t expect anybody to be able to model their behaviour after that, although Kobe modelled his behaviour a lot about Michael Jordan, but he went beyond Michael in his attitude towards training, and I know Mike would probably question me saying that, but he did."
No one has ever questioned the work ethic but Jordan and Bryant were considered to be the peak of working on your craft and it's interesting to see Jackson give the edge in one favour, in this case to Kobe.
Eleven Rings extract
Jackson has constantly been probed for definitive answers between who was better out of the two greatest shooting guards of all time and without giving the nod overall to one player, he did say in his book 'Eleven Rings' that MJ was a better leader, shooter and defender.
The extract said: “One of the biggest differences between the two stars from my perspective was Michael’s superior skills as a leader, Though at times he could be hard on his teammates, Michael was masterful at controlling the emotional climate of the team with the power of his presence. Kobe had a long way to go before he could make that claim. He talked a good game, but he’d yet to experience the cold truth of leadership in his bones, as Michael had.”
He also explained: "Jackson noted the “pronounced” difference in their accuracy, Jordan shooting almost 50%, an “extraordinary figure”, while Bryant had been at 45%. No question, Michael was a tougher, more intimidating defender. He could break through virtually any screen and shut down almost any player with his intense, laser-focused style of defense.”
The debate will forever rage on between Jordan and Bryant but the 'zen-master' has cleared up who was the more intense trainer, you certainly wont find many athletes that train harder than Kobe.