A Copy is Never as Good as the Original
There has been a lot written lately about Kobe Bryant and his pursuit of passing Michael Jordan on the All-Time Scoring List. There is an excellent article comparing the two. From the analysis in the article, that debate is over. This does give us the opportunity to reflect not only on the career of Kobe Bryant, who is within the top 20 of all basketball players, but also the legacy of Michael Jordan and the era that he started and which appears to be coming to an end. The greatest difference between Jordan and Bryant is their efficiency. Michael Jordan started an era of competitive, scoring, athletic wings which appears to be ending with the upcoming retirement of Kobe Bryant. This era spawned Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, Tracy McGrady and to a lesser extent, players like Stephon Marbury and Steve Francis, who were not true point guards. You now have Carmelo Anthony which appears to be the last vestige when he declined to go to teams such as Chicago and Houston with other stars. Kobe came the closest not only statistically but also stylistically as seen below.
With Lebron James’ transfer to the Heat and then back to Cleveland, you now have players signaling that they are not able to compete on their own and do not trust the organizations that drafted them to organize coherent, championship caliber teams. On the horizon we have young players such as Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler, as well as Andrew Wiggins but none of them appear to have the competitive, dominating spirit that Michael Jordan perfected and that Kobe Bryant imitated. They appear to be focusing on the efficiency of Jordan and shunning the go-to attitude of the era. The question then arises, is this the end of an era or the transformation of the league?