While the thing separating each player is mainly NBA championships, Basketball Hall of Famer Magic Johnson planted his flag in the debate and said Bryant was the “closest thing” to Jordan.
“Kobe admired (and) respected Michael Jordan in such a way that he patterned his game after Michael's. Kobe is the closest thing to Michael that we've seen. Why? Because he can score that basketball just like Michael Jordan. He had the same mindset and attitude just like Michael Jordan,” Johnson said Monday on ESPN’s “First Take.”
“He took no prisoners, he wanted to just put his foot on your neck. He wanted to destroy you, mentally and physically, just like Michael Jordan and he wanted to have six championships like Michael Jordan. He got close, he got five, but he never got that sixth championship.”
Johnson added that Bryant was modeling his post-career after Jordan as well.
“Kobe was doing an outstanding job as a businessman, and he was taking the run that Jordan took off the court. He was building his own brand at the same time and I believe that’s why Kobe and Michael really enjoyed each other because they went to places very few athletes go, where they were world-famous, where they were able to build a successful brand and company,” Johnson said.
“They were able to win championships and then they were able to do something special on the basketball court that we haven’t seen no other players do. They had the same mindset and so that’s why they got along off the court.”
The late Bryant appeared in the most recent parts of the ESPN special.
“He's like my big brother. I truly hate having discussions about who would win one-on-one, or fans saying, 'Hey, Kob', you'd beat Michael one-on-one.' I feel like, yo, what you get from me is from him. I don't get five championships here without him because he guided me so much and gave me so much great advice,” Bryant said.