So I'll just state it quickly. I believe Kobe is one of the best to ever play, key word "was", but I also don't think he's ever quite been on the level of the great Mike. Or do the stats just make Jordan look so much better? After some analysis and deep thought, it seems I've realized how much credit we as a collective fan-base of the NBA tend to give both Michael Jordan and then coach Phil Jackson. It seems that then Scottie Pippen is the subject discussed. I do believe we ought to at least look at it all objectively.
Kobe couldn't take mediocre teams all the way. Though it seems like he was either surrounded by great teammates or surrounded by young raw and awful talent, he was always going to get his team to the playoffs no matter what. Kobe needed Shaq to win his first 3 titles, and he needed Pau to win 2 more. But again, I must enforce that it took the Bulls getting Pippen a couple years after Jordan was leading them, as they could get to the playoffs but just couldn't get past the Celtics or Pistons.
The argument goes both ways. While I'll say Shaq was an overall more effective piece and player to have down low for Kobe, he's never had the actual opportunity to run on a Laker team with a truly gifted Small-Forward that helps make his game at Shooting-Guard so much easier. Pippen was always guarding the better perimeter player on opposing teams, because he was as good on defense as he was on offense...
Dare I say that had Lebron signed with the Lakers this past off-season at the age of 29/30 (same as Pippen in 1996), we could make a rather fair comparison. Well, actually, Lebron of this season (age 30) and Kobe from 2-3 years ago (he's 36 already), put those two players on the same team and it's as close to Pippen and MJ as you can get.
In the 6 championship seasons Pippen played with Jordan:
-20.8 points, 7.4 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 2.3 steals, 1.0 blocks, on 48%FG and lockdown D
That's really not far off from this years version of Lebron James, aside from Scottie never taking as many shot attempts, but Lebron is nearly identical to Pippen in that aspect. This year Lebron is right around:
-25.5 points, 6.2 rebounds, 7.1 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.8 blocks 48%FG and lockdown D
So..... why do we always compare Kobe to Michael yet never compare Lebron to Pippen? Is it because Scottie was never in his prime leading a team by himself (aside for half a season where he led the Bulls into the playoffs with a pretty chopped up roster). Lebron has never averaged as many steals as Pippen, nor blocks either. Defensively they are both very adept, but I think Pippen might have the edge on D. Since Lebron has the edge on offense, though I'm not sure where exactly, since both shoot similar FG% and both can pass, shoot threes, and both were/are mediocre FT shooters. Lebron's size and strength gives hi that edge with post moves, but seeing how Pippen rebounded at the same rate or better I'm not sure how big that difference is.
I know, I'll get a ton of crap for comparing Lebron ro Pippen. But rather than think I'm trying to bring Lebron's stock down, I'm truly just trying to get people to realize just how dang good Scottie Pippen truly was. Never mind the stacked triangle offense teams that Michael had (as has Kobe).
Was Shaq that much better than Horace Grant and Bill Cartwright combined? Some of those Bulls teams were created perfectly, 10 deep with serious chemistry and complementing pieces as well as great shooters to stretch the floor. That Ron Harper, Jordan, Pippen, Rodman, Longley starting 5 with Kukoc off the bench along with Steve Kerr and just good triangle pieces, it's not a whole lot different than the Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom, Kobe Bryant Lakers.
Comparing it to the Lakers teams with Kobe and Shaq that won 3 titles in a row and while Shaq was amazing he was simply one player. Nobody else on their roster was ever an All-Star caliber player (while Ron Harper, Horace Grant, Bill Cartwright, Dennis Rodman, and possibly Kukoc were all at least one or multiple time All-Stars). And of course they had all these great 3pt shooters that were just straight up 3 point champs always like Steve Kerr or Macy or Paxson. Kobe and Shaq had a bunch of mediocre role players that were smart and could shoot 3's decent, defend well, and play smart.
If only the Lakers would of signed Ariza back and not chased after Artest/Meta World after their 1st championship with Pau Gasol in 2009. While he would never be a Scottie Pippen, he would of been the closest thing we would of ever seen to Kobe playing with a "Pippen".
I'm done now... I realized I should have simply compared Lebron and Wade with Pippen and Jordan, but it's always about the Phil Jackson, Michael and Kobe references.