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Why Michael Jordan says Kobe Bryant deserves to be compared to him

January 31, 2012 |  8:00 am

Below are excerpts from a recent conversation with Lakers author Roland Lazenby. He's writing a biography on Michael Jordan titled "MJ: The Life," which is scheduled to be released in 2013. Lazenby has already shared (via Twitter) why Jordan says he believes that Kobe Bryant deserves being compared to him. And with the Jordan-owned Charlotte Bobcats visiting the Lakers on Tuesday, it's timely to touch on Lazenby's recent conversation with me. You can listen to the entire 25-minute interview above.

Lazenby on why Jordan thinks Bryant deserves being compared to him: "Kobe had done the work. He [Jordan] was very aware and taking in great interest in Kobe Bryant's great work ethic. Michael Jordan's work ethic also is legendary. He said Kobe had done that work to deserve the comparison. He says Kobe's the only one to have done the work."

Comparing Jordan and Bryant: Jordan was this kind of guy who could get position in the post and hold it. Jordan is one of the greatest post weapons in the history of the game despite the fact he's not a post player, center or power forward. But he's a great post-up scorer. Tex [Winter] always remarked that Kobe didn't quite have the same strength or center of gravity. Kobe is a fine post-up player, but he could get shoved off the block easier than Michael.

Kobe has defined himself by his singular pursuit of this agenda of the Jordan legacy. That causes him to be overshadowed, but Kobe has clearly staked out territory as his own. In some ways, his drive and determination is every bit that of Michael Jordan. In some ways, it probably eclipses that. There's no question the game preparation and the effort that Kobe has done from the time he was 17 years old, no one comes close to that. Tex would say not even Michael in that regard, and Jordan worked very hard.

On Phil Jackson saying last year that Bryant is motivated to surpass Jordan on the NBA's all-time scoring list:  Kobe has tremendous regard for Michael Jordan. There's not too many people working out in the territory out there. Kobe very much wants to approach Jordan's record. He may have frowned on that [comment]. I don't think he wants to offend Jordan in any way. He treasures any attention he can get from Michael Jordan.

On whether the Bryant-Jordan comparisons undermine Bryant's accomplishments standing on their own : Kobe has been so eager and expended so much effort in trying to fly up near the sun where Jordan is that his own accomplishments get lost. They're always lost in terms of Jordan, but that was more of a factor early on his career."

On Lazenby hearing that General Manager Mitch Kupchak may leave the Lakers: One of my old sources sent me an email about it. After getting that email, I started thinking a bit and I contacted another one of my sources. Mitch plays his cards very close, so I don't think anyone can answer that definitively. But ... at least for some people who have a good look at him and what he does inside the organization are wondering and speculating in that direction."


Kobe Bryant can realistically surpass Michael Jordan on scoring list

Phil Jackson: Kobe Bryant motivated to pass Michael Jordan on all-time scoring list

-- Mark Medina

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