Sports, Politics, Popculture--From the Minds of Twenty-Somethings

Sports, Politics, Pop Culture--From the Minds of Twenty-Somethings

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Look at Michael Jordan Vs. Kobe Bryant: Part 1

"A Look at Michael Jordan Vs. Kobe Bryant: Part 1"

(A 3 Part Editorial)

By, Sonny Hassan

             I love basketball. The subtle intricacies; an extra pass to a corner three point shooter from the post, an outlook pass to a perimeter guy running down the court, strong defensive rotation, they all bring me palpable joy. These little intricacies, although oblivious to the basketball layman, are what define basketball. They separate casual from competitive and a pick-up game from professional ball. In short, they help define greatness. These subtle intricacies, which separate basketball from any other sport, are what make this sport my absolute passion. 

             As most of you know, the NBA is on hiatus because of greedy players fighting for extra money with wealthy owners who are even greedier. It goes without saying  what is at stake that us as fans will miss next year; Blake Griffin’s actual 2nd year, an older Lakers team fighting for that last championship with Kobe as the lead, a repeat opportunity for an older Mavs team, redemption opportunities missed for a talented Heat team, and various younger teams that have a great chance at success. With all this being missed, there is a very thin silver lining that exists on NBA TV. You see, as I was flipping channels the other night, I noticed that NBA TV often marathons their forgotten show, “NBA Hardwood Classics.” This show airs prior NBA “Classic” games; ones that are always talked about in the pantheon of great games, ones that showcase individual classic talent (Magic’s baby hook in Boston Garden circa 1987), and games that are often forgotten because of the games that preceded or succeeded them. The show is a reminder to older audiences of the greatness from the past and serves as a teaching tool to younger audiences of the true greatness of the past basketball generations.

          Anyways, as I was channel surfing, I came across Game 2 of the 1996 NBA Finals in which Michael Jordan’s Bulls played a youthful Seattle Supersonics team that was lead by a young Gary Payton. Some history about the series: 
Michael Jordan came back from retirement in 1995 wearing the number 45, only to lose to a Shaq lead Orlando Magic team in 6 games during the semi-finals. He switched back to his trademark number 23 the following year, promising to exact vengeance on the league. What people have to remember is that this same Chicago team got to the 1994 semi-finals without Michael Jordan, losing to the New York Knicks in 7 games. This Chicago team was supremely talented, adding Michael Jordan to it made them legendary. The 1995-1996 team is the infamous 72 win team, a league historical best.

             This Game 2 against Seattle was important because the Bulls pumped up a 23 point lead in the 4th quarter, forcing Coach Phil Jackson to sit all of his starters (including MJ) in favor of the bench to close the game. Within minutes the bench squandered the lead and Coach Jackson was forced to replace the starters. Michael Jordan quickly proved to be the legendary closer and scored 15 of his teams final 18 points to close out Game 2. 
This legendary performance is one not mentioned when Michael Jordan performances are thought about. They are not synonymous to Michael Jordan like, “The Flu Game,” or “The Move Game, or “The Shrug,” are, but this game is equally as important to the greatness of MJ and is not mentioned and is over-shadowed because of the vast array of other great moments in his career. 
             This led me to a whole other argument all together. Kobe Vs. MJ. The sports universe, sports media, and sports fandom have short- term memories. “What have you done for me lately.” It is the same universe that proclaimed Pau Gasol to be better than Dirk Nowitzki, or that Dwight Howard is already a top-5 center of all time. I attest this to the modern sports media and technology. Sports fans are constantly bombarded with short clips, stats, and comparisons. They get highlight moments of great players, thus only being able to compare to other highlight moments of past players. They don’t truly get the whole picture; they miss the Game 2’s. This is why I believe the Kobe Vs. MJ argument is heavily skewed. I hear in basketball circles all too often that Kobe is better than MJ; hands down. Being a huge Laker fan, and a huge Kobe fan, I can’t honestly say with a straight face that Kobe is a better player than MJ was, let alone without argument. But who was better? This piece will take a close look at that.
          Which is what lead me to write this piece, “A Look at Kobe Vs. MJ.” We’ll look into these two legends and their careers, their downfalls, and their impact on pop culture. We will not only compare what their stats are, we will look at comparing everything; their stats, their awards, their vices, their shoes, etc. Think of it as an all-encompassing look into the argument as opposed to a definitive one. The editorial is split into 3 parts; this introduction, the case for MJ, and the case for Kobe.
           Without further ado, a look at the greatest two-guards to ever play the game, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. “A Look at MJ Vs. Kobe: Part 2”

No comments:

Post a Comment