Thursday , Oct , 30 , 2008 Oly Sandor

So what? Kobe Bryant and LeBron James aren’t Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson

The season has started and all I hear is hate. Most of it surrounds what tops stars like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James aren’t. You know what I speak of -the complaint that today’s best don’t compare on-and-off court with past greats like Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson. Well, I’ll spoil it. Nobody will measure up to Jordan and Johnson. Ever.

So what? Kobe Bryant and LeBron James aren't Michael Jordan and Magic JohnsonThe season has started and all I hear is hate. Most of it surrounds what tops stars like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James aren’t. You know what I speak of –the complaint that today’s best don’t compare on-and-off court with past greats like Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson.

Well, I’ll spoil it. Nobody will measure up to Jordan and Johnson. Ever. Both were utterly unique. Once in a generation doesn’t do them justice. Once in a lifetime does.

After all, ‘His Airness’ won six NBA Titles during the league’s golden era. And Magic enjoyed five Lawrence O’Brien trophies competing against archrival Larry Bird.

Amazingly, championships don’t tell the true story. Or paint the full picture. Frankly, both were bigger than the game. Jordan was once the world’s most recognizable person. Johnson’s size revolutionized basketball; before him, a 6-9 point guard was unthinkable.

I’m not slighting Bryant or James. There is nothing wrong with their status or place in the NBA. They’re just in tough. Real tough. It reminds me of Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis’ predicament in boxing. Both were great. But both can’t touch Muhammad Ali, though.

I think the comparison is fair. Like boxing post-Ali, the NBA has struggled a touch following Jordan and Johnson. Both transcended their sport like Ali, albeit in a far less significant way.

Looking to the past is great. Hanging onto it isn’t. So knocking Bryant and James for what they aren’t and can’t be means missing out on what they are. And that is the greatest shame of all.

Do we unfairly compare today’s greats to Jordan and Johnson? Can anyone ever live up to MJ and Magic? Get at us in the comment box below and come back to HoopsVibe the Blog for more NBA tidbits. Photo courtesy of romain noeppel.