Many put LeBron James in that conversation too.
Where do they fare? On a recent episode of the Scoop B Radio Podcast, I checked in with someone who played against all three: Kendall Gill.
Currently an analyst on NBC Sports Chicago, Gill appeared on the Scoop B Radio Podcast and revealed his thoughts on where they all rank.
Check out a snippet from our Q&A below:
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: Last question. Kobe Bryant passed away in January. Helicopter accident. He and his daughter and seven other passengers. You and I in the past have talked about the line of demarcation between Kobe and Michael. I believe you told me some years ago the difference between Michael’s game and Kobe’s game was maybe Kobe was a better 3-point shooter… You have had the opportunity to not just play against Kobe, not play against Michael — you played against LeBron. Early LeBron. When he was in Cleveland. Many people make these comparisons to Michael, Kobe and LeBron and Kyle Kuzma told me, “People should just enjoy their greatness. They’re once in a lifetime players.” – Fans do it regardless because it’s part of the game. I guess from your perspective, playing against all three, where do you draw the line between their skill set, their greatness and all the other stuff that people like to talk about?
Kendall Gill: You got to understand that Kobe patterned a lot of his game from Michael. I mean, even from the way he talks in the early days. And Kobe refined his skills just like Michael’s. They both had a post up game. Both had an outside game. Both could take you off the dribble. Both mastered the triple threat position which was key in their games. But the one thing about Kobe is that – Kobe, if you really look at him, physically he’s doesn’t really blow you away. He’s talented. But not that talented. He was fast, but he wasn’t that fast. He’s quick, but he wasn’t that quick. But one thing about Kobe, he worked harder than everybody else. If you go back – you can YouTube it: The Mind of Kobe Bryant. And you can get inside this kid’s mind, he was so intelligent about what he was doing about the game. Now Kobe had to work his butt off 24/7 to even get close to Michael. Now Michael worked hard, but he didn’t have to work as hard as Kobe to be him. And that’s the difference. Michael was just Michael. Kobe had to work crazy to even get close to him. Michael in my opinion – and this from me playing against him, much better athlete than Kobe. Faster than Kobe. Stronger than Kobe. Quicker than Kobe. I’d say that Kobe had a little bit more skills than Michael. But Michael didn’t need that many skills, he mastered what he needed to master. Kobe had a few more moves. And this is me going against them one-on-one. Now let’s talk about LeBron. LeBron is just a physical freak of nature. 6’8” 260lbs, can jump out – in my opinion, LeBron is the best ATHLETE to play in the NBA. But skill wise, he is NOT on the level of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. I know he’s a three-time champion if he continues to be the all time leading scorer in the League, however he’s not on that with those guys as far as skills and that’s why I had to put it – this is me. I’m gonna go: Michael. Kobe. LeBron. That’s how I put ‘em.
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: See in my mind, I didn’t play so I defer to you. Just observing I feel as though you put LeBron in those Magic Johnson-Oscar Robertson playmaker conversations…
Kendall Gill: Yes!
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: He’s a stronger Magic Johnson with a better jumper.
Kendall Gill: I agree! And can jump a lot higher! [laughs] So I think that’s where you need to – and they shouldn’t try to compare LeBron to Michael because they’re totally different players and I agree putting him with Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson conversation.