Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant are very similar to each other: both play the shooting guard spot, both are considered to be the best player in their team’s history, and both are the most competitive players of their era.
Regardless of if you were playing game 6 of the NBA Finals or you were clinging to a 25 point lead against a subpar squad, these guys were never going to back down, never going to show mercy, and were always going to demand 110% effort to their teammates.
Sadly, we never got to see them go at each other during their primes, as Jordan was already an aging star when Kobe was a blossoming young baller, but it’s always nice to try and imagine who would’ve gotten the best out of it.
So, on the verge of this new All-Star format featuring team LeBron James (the most voted player of the Eastern Conference) and Team Stephen Curry (the most voted player of the Western Conference), we’re going to let you know about the ultimate match up everybody would love to watch during their primes: Team Michael Jordan vs Team Kobe Bryant.
PG: Magic Johnson
Michael Jordan’s trusting Magic Johnson to run the team’s offense, arguably the best point guard in the history of the game due to his crafty playmaking and ability to play and guard all 5 spots on the floor.
If the fans want a show, there’s just no one better to do so than the showman himself: Earvin Magic Johnson, a walking highlight reel that will always find a way to make everybody around him better
SG: Michael Jordan
Obviously, the starting shooting guard and team captain is his royal Airness himself, the greatest basketball player in the history of the game, and the most dominant two-way guard you’ll ever find on an NBA hardwood.
There’s just nothing that we can say about the Black Cat that hasn’t been said already, and he’s going to look forward to the opportunity to just give it to Kobe, the guy that he stated that copied most of his moves.
SF: Larry Bird
Come on man, if it wasn’t for LeBron James, Larry Bird would be almost unanimously the greatest small forward in the history of the game, and one of the first guys to make the three-point shot a reliable scoring option.
Bird can put the ball on the floor and lead the break as well, and he’s as skilled as it gets when we talk about sending the rock to the bottom of the nets, so beware to keep him open while trying to double anybody below the rim.
PF: Charles Barkley
Perhaps he’s not the tallest, but he’s definitely the strongest power forward you’ll see, and his ability to take off and gain and maintain position over opposing big men make him a top-tier rebounder as well.
Barkley is a very gifted offensive player as well, and you know he’s just going to try and bully his way into the paint, and he’s definitely going to just move you around with ease while using his strong body to gain space and shoot over you.
C: Hakeem Olajuwon
If it wasn’t enough, Jordan puts the cherry on top of the sundae with Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon, the most skilled and gifted two way center in the history of basketball, and the guy with the best footwork this game has ever seen.
Olajuwon can just score against anybody with his signature move “the dream shake”, and he’s going to get you on the defensive end of the hardwood as well, being one of the best shot blockers in NBA history.
Bench: John Stockton, Reggie Miller, Clyde Drexler, Scottie Pippen, David Robinson, Dennis Rodman, Karl Malone
Oh man, this team is just.. Stacked! For starters, we got the Utah Jazz ultimate duo of John Stockton and Karl Malone, a couple of guys that were torched by Jordan himself, but that was the closest to handing him an NBA Finals defeat with their dominance and great chemistry.
Reggie Miller is one of the first lethal sharpshooters in the league, so you know you just can’t live him wide open, and if you pair him with Clyde Drexler, you’re looking at a 50+ point duo right there if they manage to get hot.
If you want stoppers, well, Jordan’s obviously going to turn to two of the best defensive players in NBA history that also happen to have won Championships with him: Dennis Rodman and the Batman to his Robin, Scottie Pippen.
Finally, we’ve got David Robinson, the first standout baller in San Antonio Spurs history and a guy that can just fill up the stat sheet on the blink of an eye, being the last player ever to record a quadruple-double.
PG: Allen Iverson
Allen Iverson may not be the best playmaker on this team, but he’s for sure the greatest dribbler and a guy that knows how to gain space to attack the rim or find the open guy to try and connect from beyond the arc.
Mr crossover himself already knows what is like to embarrass Michael Jordan with one of his crafty crosses, and he’s one of the most talented players in NBA history despite his lack of discipline.
SG: Kobe Bryant
We’re in for a treat when prime Kobe Bryant goes against prime Michael Jordan, being such similar players when we talk about their offensive repertoire, but also because Bryant focused three times as much in defense when he goes against top-tier competition.
Kobe will never back down from a challenge, and he would try and make the most of the opportunity to prove everybody that he can beat Jordan himself finally going one and one against him.
SF: Tracy McGrady
Almost every single player that tried and defended Tracy McGrady can agree with the fact that he’s one of the most difficult players to stop in history, owning a never-ending bag of tricks to send the ball to the bottom of the nets.
McGrady is a scoring machine that can make the most of his speed, athleticism and handles, or just pull up from everywhere on the floor and hit it from beyond the arc, so there’s virtually no effective way of shutting him down
PF: Tim Duncan
Bryant turns to the Big Fundamental to balance things up, perhaps the most complete overall big man of the 2000’s, an outstanding teammate, and the most hardworking guy you’ll find in the gym.
Duncan is a hell of a team player, and the kind of power forward that can shut you down on one end of the hardwood and then hit an ugly - yet effective - shot over everybody from the free throw line.
C: Shaquille O’Neal
And obviously, nobody knows what is like to play alongside Kobe better than Shaquille O’Neal, who won a trifecta of rings besides the Black Mamba and showed outstanding chemistry with him on the hardwood (not so much of it).
Shaq was the most dominant bully of his time and you just couldn’t get past him unless you were willing to pay the price for it, and you know you just wouldn’t be able to stop him on the break so you’d better back down.
Bench: Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Garnett, Vince Carter, Jason Kidd, Steve Nash
Team Bryant features two of the best point guards in NBA history in Jason Kidd and Steve Nash, a couple of very dominant playmakers that have been closely tied throughout their entire careers as teammates and rivals.
Also, we’ve got a couple of the most reliable three-point shooters of the past decades in Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, who also led the Boston Celtics to their latest NBA Championship run and proved to be a lethal duo from beyond the arc.
Of course, you need to give fans a treat for the eyes so that’s where Vince Carter comes to play, as you definitely know he’s going to demolish the rim with his monster jams as the greatest dunker in NBA history.
And last but not least, we get a very dynamic frontcourt duo on Kevin Garnett and Dirk Nowitzki, one of them being a hungry defensive monster while the other features his unblockable signature fadeaway shot as the most smooth scoring big man in the history of the game.
At first glance, you may state that team Bryant features a lot more firepower, with all 12 players being able to put on an offensive clinic and being a way more better three-point shooting team than Jordan’s.
On the other hand, team Jordan is way more suited with a stopper to try and contain the offensive outbursts of team Bryant, with Stockton, Pippen, Jordan, Olajuwon and Rodman looking like a team nobody could ever score against.
We can see Bird lighting it up from a distance while McGrady and Carter set lobs for each other, with Shaq and Hakeem trying to impose their presence down low on one of the most physical matchups ever.
Team Bryant would try to rely on small ball with sets featuring Kidd, Nash, Iverson, Kobe and Dirk at center, trying to hit from beyond the arc while team Jordan pounds inside and constantly attack the rim.
Magic Johnson and Karl Malone would be deadly on the pick and roll, and you know Chuck’s going to set really hard screens to create space for both Miller and Drexler and their constant drives to the lane.
To try and stay in this game, team Kobe would try to rely on Boston’s big three with Garnett, Allen and Pierce, the very team that beat him in the Finals and that already knows how to play altogether.
And obviously, one key matchup would be Dirk against Robinson, with the ladder trying to impose his physique down low while Nowitzki embarrasses him taking him out to the perimeter and pump faking him.
This game would just be a beauty to watch, with defense setting the tone of the matchup. On the final two possessions of regulation, Iverson would steal an inbound play to tie the game with a breakaway dunk, and then Jordan would be called for a charge on an inbound play very similar to his game-winning shot at game 6 vs the Jazz. We’re heading to overtime.
It’s isolation time, Jordan vs Kobe, what we all came down to see. Every shot is almost a carbon copy of the prior one. Fadeaways, pump fakes, three-pointers, dunks in traffic, this one will go down to the final possession.
Pierce inbounds, Kobe gets the ball and lobs it to Shaq, but Hakeem just grabs the ball mid-air and passes it full court to an open Jordan. Tongue out, reverse dunk, game over. Michael Jordan wins it 101-99.