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Why Kobe Bryant Was More Skilled Than Michael Jordan, According To One NBA Legend

Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant
(Image credit: ESPN/ABC)

Basketball fans have had debates regarding who the true GOAT is for years now. Today, the conversation arguably boils down to three players: Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. And when that list even gets whittled down, it sometimes only leaves Jordan and Bryant. It’s honestly hard to compare the two, especially when both were so dominant within their respective eras. Though at least one basketball great believes that the late NBA legend was more skilled than the prolific Chicago Bull. 

Tracy McGrady is one of the NBA alums that had the opportunity to face off with both of the legends during his professional career. The former Toronto Raptor didn’t get to play MJ too much while the six-time NBA champion was in his prime, but McGrady did have plenty of meet-ups with the Black Mamba. While appearing on ESPN’s First Take, was asked his thoughts on the debate and quickly chose the Lakers icon. While he was respectful of His Airness, he believes the LA alum improved upon the things that the Chicago vet established:

I see MJ and Kobe, but Kobe enhanced those skillsets that he took from Michael Jordan. The ball-handling skills. The fadeaways. I think Kobe is the most skilled basketball player that I’ve ever seen over Michael Jordan.

Tracy McGrady on The Big Podcast

(Image credit: TNT)

Some may not agree with this assessment, but the hall of famer is certainly correct in saying that Kobe Bryant had serious skills. When he was on the court, it seemed as though he had no fear and could take over a game in a matter of minutes. Tracy McGrady would know this better than most, especially considering just how many times he faced off with Bryant’s Lakers during his career. The showdowns between them and T-Mac’s Houston Rockets in the 2000s were particularly exciting.

The late player endeared himself to more than a few people as both an athlete and a man during his time on earth. On the first anniversary of his death, tributes from Jimmy Fallon, Jemele Hill and more poured in. His on-court comrades have also gotten emotional while reflecting on his memory. Allen Iverson was one of the many to pay tribute and, earlier this year, he had a sweet response after being asked to sign a picture of him and No. 81. Michael Jordan also paid a loving tribute to his “little brother” during his public memorial service.

While both athletes were fiercely competitive, they had a bond that endured for years. Michael Jordan and ESPN’s The Last Dance (which is streamable with a Netflix subscription), even featured a tribute that Kobe Bryant fans likely appreciated. It’s like they say, game recognizes game. 

Of course, Air Jordan is also “great” in his own right. Yet Dwyane Wade doesn’t know if the sports legend will be considered a GOAT much longer. Wade delivered a particularly sobering thought, stating that fans will soon forget about MJ “the way we forget about Kareem [Abdul Jabbar].”

The debate is only going to continue as time goes on and more talent enters the NBA. Tracy McGrady’s position is more than clear, though and, unless a true phenom hits the hardwood over the next decade or so, his mind more or less won’t change.

Erik Swann
Erik Swann

Covering superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. I eat more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.