How Will Kobe Bryant’s Final Chapter Compare with Michael Jordan’s?

If there are any two basketball superstars who have been compared ad nauseam, it is Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan.

Each were/are ridiculously talented and competitive players. One won six NBA titles with the Chicago Bulls and the other has won five so far with the Los Angeles Lakers. Each could achieve feats on the court of which most mortals only dream.

But time is the avenger, and Jordan and Bryant each approached their final playing days as so many athletes have—older, slower and searching for those elusive last moments of greatness.

And of course, wanting more buckets. At age 36, Bryant enters his 19th season in the NBA with 31,700 career points, just 592 behind Jordan’s final tally of 32,292.

Will the Mamba still get his numbers? Per Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News, new Lakers head coach Byron Scott says, “He’s gotten older, but can still get it done. I see a guy who’s going to average 20-something points per game, will have a great year and have a lot of people eating crow.”

How did Jordan do at the end, playing for the Washington Wizards? He averaged 22.9 points during the 2001-02 season and 20 points in 2002-03.

The comparisons between the two players have been mythic over the years. A three-part “identical plays” video series posted on YouTube by Youssef Hannoun showed just how much their games are alike:

As Bryant’s final chapter with the Los Angeles Lakers begins, the inevitable similarities and differences will continue to be fodder for discussion.

Jordan played a total of 15 seasons in the NBA with the interruption of two retirements. The first was a year-long sabbatical from the Bulls to pursue a lifelong dream of playing professional baseball. The second was a three-year retirement after leaving Chicago for good at the end of the 1997-98 season.

That ...

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