Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up

Phil Jackson: Kobe Bryant surpassed Michael Jordan’s attitude toward training

Jordan talks with Bryant

ATLANTA - FEBRUARY 9: Michael Jordan (Washington Wizards) #23 of the Eastern Conference All-Stars talks with Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers) #8 of the Western Conference All-Stars at the 2003 NBA All-Star Game on February 9, 2003 at Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images license agreement. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Getty Images

Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant have invited comparisons between each other – Kobe by purposefully modeling his style after Jordan and Jordan by expressing his respect for that.

Not that anyone needs an invitation.

Arguably the two greatest shooting guards of all time, Jordan and Kobe are ripe for comparison. Each has impeccable credentials – individual and team – and legions of fans in his corner. Jordan is clearly better, but people want to talk about it.

One of those people: Phil Jackson, who coached both. He’s never shied from discussing the issue.

Usually, Jackson favors Jordan. Jackson said Jordan would beat Kobe in one-one-one and praised how Jordan – relative to Kobe – interacted with teammates.

But there’s one area Jackson, now the Knicks president, gives Kobe the edge.

Jackson, in a Q&A with Steve Serby of the New York Post:

Q: Is Kobe Bryant the model for Carmelo Anthony?

A: No. No one can approach that. I don’t expect anybody to be able to model their behavior after that, although Kobe modeled his behavior 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.

Jordan, using every slight (real and imagined) as motivation, willed himself to greatness. It was no coincidence he became the best player of all time. His athleticism and talent were elite, but his determination and focus put him over the edge.

So how else was Kobe supposed to compete?

The only way was to adopt Jordan’s approach and push it to the extreme. And that’s just what Kobe did.

He has an incredible work ethic. He pushes himself beyond what seems reasonable.

Jordan didn’t have a target as lofty as Jordan to strive toward. Kobe did, and that’s why his attitude toward training surpassed Jordan’s.

Melo can use either Jordan’s or Kobe’s greatness as a goal to push himself, but nah. He doesn’t have a chance.