The Heat could build the case for Kobe vs Jordan

The Miami Heat have already lost three games, and don't appear to be a threat to break the 72-10 record this season, however, the forming of the three kings might have a tremendous impact if the record falls this year.

There were a lot of reasons the Bulls broke that record, but perhaps the biggest reason was Michael Jordan felt he had something to prove that year.  After getting knocked out in the playoffs the previous season and everyone wondering whether he was slowing down, he wanted to dominate everyone, every night, so no one would doubt him again.
Kobe may be similarly motivated this season.   The whole off-season talk was about LeBron, Wade, and Bosh.  The forming of a potential dynasty.   Book deals had been signed before they stepped on a court, a nationally televised show announced LeBron's decision, people were counting up the rings for Miami already.

The talk of the NBA is not the Lakers.   It's the Miami Heat.   While many are giving lip service to the Lakers winning the title this year, it typically sounds like that talk is simply trying to make up an excuse as to why the Heat won't win.   They started 24/7 coverage of the Miami Heat in ESPN to capitalize on their fame.  Through all the media day interviews for every team, every player was asked what they thought about the Heat.  

You can't help but think that Kobe and the Lakers are left thinking "what about us?".   Granted, many people have picked the Lakers to win the title.  In fact, perhaps more picked the Lakers than the Heat, but the buzz is all in Miami, and while I'm not a psychological profiler for the FBI, I bet this grates on Bryant like you wouldn't believe.

I bet he goes out there with that burning desire to stomp on everyone, to earn back the spotlight, to become the main story again, to shut up all those talking heads. 

Yes, the Miami Heat might be the best thing to ever happen to Kobe Bryant, because it might motivate him to push the Lakers to the 70+ win heights.   The Lakers are off to an undefeated start, and while it's too early to talk about the record (especially given a weak schedule that's home loaded for LA), the Lakers look focused this season.

It goes beyond the potential drive toward a win record though, the Miami Heat represent an opponent like none that Jordan ever had to go through.   Wade and LeBron are legitimately top 5 players in the NBA, and if the Lakers could beat the Heat in the finals for say two seasons and Kobe wins two more Finals MVPs then the debate will really be on.

In my mind, Jordan still easily wins this debate, but if Kobe finishes with 7 rings and beats a legitimate superstar filled team in the NBA finals a couple times there will be plenty of ammo for Kobe supporters and the passage of time will further remove the talking heads from Jordan's greatness. 

Will it happen?  No.  I don't think so.   I don't think the Lakers stand a shot in hell at the 72 win record.   I don't think they'll win the title this year (though clearly it wouldn't be shocking if they did), and I really doubt they can win two more.

However, the odds of Kobe ever making a legitimate case to top Jordan seemed nonexistent to me, but the Heat represent a villain team so disliked that they'll propel anyone beating them to new heights even if the stats (and especially the playoff ones) don't back it up.


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  • Now way are they winning 72.

  • Lakers seem a lot more likely than the current Heat team to get to 72 wins. And does anybody still think Chris "I get a little lost out there" Bosh is a lock for the All-Star game?

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    I think he will be on the all star team because its good tv that the three kings are all together on the allstar team .. He won't deserve it though.

    do the bulls this year remind you guysof the bad boy pistons with how our defense is going to be and that we SHOULD at some point meet up with the super hyped heat in the playoffs

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    I think he will be on the all star team because its good tv that the three kings are all together on the allstar team .. He won't deserve it though.

    do the bulls this year remind you guysof the bad boy pistons with how our defense is going to be and that we SHOULD at some point meet up with the super hyped heat in the playoffs

  • In reply to UtahBullsFan:

    Its not like TV stations get to pick the all-stars. Bosh will have a hard time if he doesn't get his numbers up, but I believe he'll at least get up to around 18 ppg which is still a joke to get in the All-Star game especially when he's only rebounding at a rate of 5rpg.

  • In reply to jgingeri:

    Hopefully Bosh's poor start will open the door for Boozer to get elected as an All-Star.

  • In reply to jgingeri:

    Interesting article... I haven't done the research but I recall reading that Pau Gasol is actually leading the Lakers in scoring, not Kobe. Sure things can change by the end of the season. Your overall point is well-taken though, I must admit one of my first thoughts when the FA movement completed was that this could only add fuel to the Kobe vs. MJ argument. I even think Sam Smith wrote an article on it at that time.

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    Did you read this, Doug:,0,3785070.story

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    Remember, the Lakers are 7th in DEff, 4th in grabbing ORbs, and slightly below average on the defensive glass without Andrew Bynum and with Theo Ratliff stapled in the game-to-game rotation.

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    This is definitely something I've been thinking about. More the impact of Kobe beating LeBron & Co to get his 6 & 7th ring than anything about the 72 win thing. Especially if he lands League or Finals MVPs while doing it.

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    Sorry Doug off topic, but what do any of you think of Marcus Thornton at SG. He seems to be on the outs with NO for some reason and here is a guy who is 6-4, young and can shoot three. He had some huge games last year when Collison was there fill in PG but for some reason he is getting the minutes this year with the new coach. I remember watching him last year and the guy can flat out score. Am I missing something or is he worth an inquiry?

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    Also, did anyone see that Indy went 20-21 fg last night in a quarter? with the only miss being with 4 sec. left? Pretty amazing but it also takes some of the good feelings I had about the Bulls beating the Nuggets.

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    Teams the Bulls had to go through that had top ten guys and were over all better than the heat: Detroit Pistons, Utah Jazz, LA Lakers, Boston Celtics. All these teams had their own Big 2 or 3, yet each team was better over all than Miami is this season. Plus as of right now Miami is a long way from the NBA Finals if Boston and Atlanta keep playing the way they are.

  • In reply to CPBuff22:

    You know I was thinking the same thing when Doug said Jordan never had to go through a team like the Heat. Now that is true he never went through a team that was constructed "like" the Heat, but he definitely went through teams that were better overall than the heat. I'd take my money on Magic's Lakers, Bird's Celtics, Isiah's Pistons, and probably even Stockton's Jazz all over todays Heat. Thats not to say the Heat wont eventually be better, but they sure as hell are not today, that is unless you ask John Hollinger, that fool's power rankings came out yesterday and had the Heat ahead of the Lakers, the guy has a hardon for Lebron and has yet to pick a champion since his arrival at ESPN. Anyways, what made the aforementioned teams better than the Heat? The fact that they were complete, they were deep, and they went through the process of becoming teammates. The Heat are kind of like something created in a test tube, on paper all the equations would seem to add up, but when you take the experiment's results out into the world they lack something intangible. The Heat are going to have to go through actually becoming a team just like everyone else, this isn't Candyland, there are no shortcuts to a title. If you take that great Bulls team, and set them against a team newly constructed team with 3 of the top 10 players in the league and a bunch of scrubs, the Bulls win. Because greatness is solidified by truly coming to know your teammates over time, and is constructed through pain and triumph, not back of the Olympic bus hand shakes.

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    That's the 1 thing that people keep forgetting, Jordan had a massive chip on his shoulder because the Bulls were eliminated from the playoffs because Nick Anderson stole the ball from Jordan and Horace Grant who left the Bulls for Orlando was the hero for throwing down a big dunk off of that steal to basically win the game and the series in 6 games. Jordan the competitor that he was took all of that in and we all know that he was on a mission to come back in the best shape of his career and with the signing of Dennis Rodman, and Pippin having that year and a half to play without Jordan, they all came together that year to terrorize the league to get to the 72 wins. The Lakers probably do have the best shot to get to the record because of being looked over from the Miami situation and the west is incredibly weak IMO, and I believe the 1 person that was there for the 72 wins know how to get this Lakers team motivated, Phil Jackson maybe on his last run with the team and that would be a perfect way for him to go out breaking or tying the record while getting his 12th championship as a coach. I hope that it doesn't happen but if it does, I wouldn't be mad if Phil was to do it cause even though he has had about the same amount of success with the Lakers that he had with the Bulls, he has always praised the 96 Bulls team for their focus and determination that season and he has said himself that every lakers team that he has had that has won a championship would not have been able to beat that 96 Bulls team in a series because they were just that focused with Jordan and that the entire team had something to prove that year with the big push coming from Jordan of course. Miami already has 3 losses and they haven't even been out west yet. Bosh is the odd man out and to me if they can't get things together this team wont win anything this year or in the future cause IMO he's not fitting in very well from the career he has had in the past. Bosh is used to being the man on his team and by him joining Miami he is now the 3rd option. I think we Bulls fans need to be very worried about the Lakers winning 72 games cause right now, these guys are clicking on all cylinders and like I said before, Phil maybe able to get it out of them. Lets hope the Lakers don't get it done though.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Great post overall. I just doubt Kobe has enough energy at his age to sustain such a high level throughout a 72 game season, and you can bet Phil will be sitting him at the end, especially since they will probably lead the west by 8 or 9 games around 70 games into the season. Hell with the way the West looks they could win 65 games and win the west by 10+ games.

  • In reply to jgingeri:

    Wasn't Jordan Kobes age or even a year older than Kobe in 95-96.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Jordan was 6 months older..

  • In reply to BigWay:


    DROSE and JNOAH will be on ESPN 1000 at 5pm as part of the "Lunch with a Legend" series.

    Check it out.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Kobe got 3 as second fiddle to Shaq, 1 more where Gasol was the best player in the finals (even though Kobe got the undeserved MVP), and so far this year can you say for sure that Gasol isn't the best player on the Lakers? When on any of the Bulls team was it ever in doubt MJ was the best player?

    So no to this argument.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Let's not forget to mention... without a possible gambling investigation causing a 1.75 season "retirement" (read: suspension - "Jordan, will you ever come back?" - "If David will let me!") the Bulls would have won 8 straight.

    You don't quit basketball to "be with your family" and then join a triple-A baseball team.

    8 in a row. I ger-ohn-tee.

    I'd take Jordan/Pippen over James/Wade or Kobe/anyone any day of the week.

    In reality, I'm building myself up to accept the fact that SOMEONE, SOMEDAY will beat the 72 wins... And I will be fighting off "Jordan was the best ever" arguments well into my old age everytime some douche seems to dominate a watered down league with rules designed for TV highlights and not for real basketball.

    Ahhh.. I feel better now.

  • In reply to JohnGalt:

    I'm curious to see how the next CBA plays out. It could conceivably make 72 wins next-to-impossible (think Hockey-style cap), or could help out (similar to current system in terms of player movement + contraction would make it a little easier for one team to horde talent).

    Despite an 8-0 start, I don't see the Lakers making a play at 72, let alone 69 (franchise record ). The last three games for them in December (Heat, @Spurs, @Hornets) will probably be a good indication of how good a shot they really have.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    If you don't fear the heat and just play your game you can beat them....look at who the heat have beating so far the nets twice t-wolves 76ers in the magic on a back to back night. The heat are going to beat a lot of these bad teams but going to have their hand full or lose to the good and better teams

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I always felt chris bosh was way overrated he too soft in the paint he is not a banger they could have took all the money they gave bosh and really put together a really good team

  • In reply to jgingeri:

    I agree with your sentiments about Kobe's motivation being even more focused than usual. This would be a key element to anyone attacking the Bulls 72 win record. Everyone acknowledges that Jordan was a man possed that season and willed the Bulls to those 72 wins, yet as I mentioned before the last 3 losses were by only one point, so even Jordan wore down at the end of the season.

    I think the Lakers are a virtual lock to make the finals and a favorite to win no matter who makes it from the east.

    Miami will have its hands full with a healthy Celtics team in the ECF which would give the Lakers its biggest challenge in the Finals.

    IF I were a betting man I would put my money on the Lakers to win it all, and given that you might get good odds I might bet on 72 wins also.

    For the Lakers it all comes down to health, if everybody is they win it all, and take a shot at 72.

    As for Kobe vs. Jordan, Jordan dominates almost every if not acutally every statistical category, so there really should not be much of a debate. I may be mistaken, but I think that Jordan even shot higher from 3 in the playoffs than Kobe has.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Yes, in the playoff MJ 3pt percentage is .332 and kobe .329, not that big difference. BUT all other stats MJ is WAAYYY better than Kobe. I'm sick of Kobe fan saying "stats don't matter". Bull-shit! Playoff stats - >MJ PPG 33.4, Kobe PPG 25.0, what a joke! Not to mentioned, assist, rebounds, steal EVEN free throw percentage! MJ is better!!!!

    Check this link see for yourself how kobe not even close being compared with MJ!

  • In reply to Reese1:

    I was looking at the results of that season the other day.

    The Bulls started out 41-3, and finished 31-7, the last 3 losses by only 1 point each.

    teams seldom if ever close out the season as strong as they start, they just wear down, even the Bulls did that season.

    So until someone actually gets to 41-3 or 4 we don't have to worry about it.

    However, I think a healthy(Bynum for a full season) Lakers team is always a threat. So if the Lakers are still undefeated when Bynum comes back and he is fully healthy, they could make a run at 72.

  • As far as Kobe vs Jordan, that topic is going to come up every time somebody at ESPN looks at the ratings and sees that they are losing numbers in the 34-55 age group during basketball season...

  • I watched that game, the Nuggets looked mentally and physically drained. The Pacers shooting brought back bad memories of the Knicks game...

  • I think this post sums it up pretty well:

    Kobe is an all-time great, and probably is the 2nd best SG ever, but that is where it stops. Assuming that the Lakers do beat the Heat once (or even twice) in the Finals, from watching the 3 Heat losses thus far, I'd wager to say it would be because Gasol and Bynum destroy Miami inside, and not because Kobe wills them to victory (6 for 24, anyone). I'd take it a step further and say I wouldn't be surprised if Wade actually got the best of the one-on-one matchup.

    I guess that brings me to my 'nail-in-the-coffin' for this argument. Once Jordan was established, there was pretty much little debate over who was #1 in the NBA until he retired the second time. With Kobe, you could have made a legitimate case for someone being better overall just about every single season he has played (Shaq, Duncan, LeBron, etc).

    Finally, to say Jordan faced weaker competition to winning the title is absurd (this is the argument I hear made the most in favor of Kobe). Take a look at some of the averages of the teams the Bulls faced in 92:

    Miami had 7 players averaging 10+ points per game (as an 8 seed). The Knicks had 5. Cleveland had 6 and Portland had 6 (with a 7th scoring 9.7). I won't even bring up the rule changes that make it easier to score nowadays.

    If God gave you the choice of a player to represent you, with the stakes being your soul in Heaven or facing eternal damnation, which one would you take: Jordan-Prime or Kobe-Prime?

    Any Kobe takers now? Anyone???? If so, better bring your SPF 10,000.

  • In reply to saigman:

    Spot on my friend. The reference to the rule changes cannot go overstated, and the idea that the NBA is tougher now than it was in the 90's or 80's literally baffles me. And I'm not some old ass dude that hates on today's players.

  • In reply to jgingeri:

    Spend some time on Basketball Reference's site, and you could pick out about 5 or 6 teams from the 90's (not from Chicago) that would D-R-I-L-L this Heat squad.

    Lack of a top-flight PG and size inside are huge holes that will cost the Heat in a series.

  • In reply to saigman:

    Agreed, I think our size inside with Boozer will keep us competitive with the Heat. Now the Lakers?... they might just sweep the Heat once Bynum is back.

  • The current Celtics are old and compare well to some of those teams, would you take the Heat over them in a 7 game series if it started today? I'm not arguing that the Heat will never be better than any team the Bulls went through, but stating they already are seems quite forward IMO.

  • The guy is great with numbers, but he just doesn't have a good feel for the game, kind of missing instincts, I really don't know how to describe it.

    But get this, his power rankings are determined from 2 things, and 2 things alone, margin of victory, and strength of schedule. He doesn't even take into account wins and losses, its just plain dumb. Basically you can have an extremely tough schedule where you lose to all the tough teams by a few points, blow out the garbage teams and you get the top spot.

  • Yea I think he'll turn it around, but I don't see him getting to 20ppg. I'd say its really about if he gets his rebounds up. He can make the team at 18ppg but only if he's grabbing 10 boards. What numbers do you think he'll have to reach to in order to make it?

  • Anyone notice Deron Williams's facial expression last night after scoring quickly to pull the Jazz within 4 of the Heat with a minute left in regulation? It wasn't "C'mon, let's do this!" (Garnett). It wasn't, "Alright, we've got a chance here" (Sloan's face all night). It wasn't, "Well, we're keeping it close at least" (Vinny Del Negro perma-mask). And it wasn't, "Little anxious but let's go" (D-Rose whenever the Bulls are down in the 4th).

    No. It was "We have no reason whatsoever to worry." It was the look of an absolutely superstar. And it's the look the Lakers have given off every night this season. As a team. It's a look of supreme-but-not-arrogant ease and confidence. Sure, their schedule has been lightweight so far, but they're also without Bynum and Walton. Having watched every game I think it's borderline insane to say " I don't think they'll win the title this year." There's just no better pick at this point.

    72 wins is obviously a different matter.

  • All those are great examples, and that
    s not even considering the superior depth those teams had compared to the Heat.

  • If you haven't seen his numbers from last year you should go check them out, seems like exactly what the Bulls would want. Only reason I paid so much attention to him last year.......Fantasy.

  • The Bulls had better be taking notes from the Jazz. They are about to beat Miami and Orlando on back to back nights on the road. The Jazz have good perimeter scorers, and are playing good defense. The Bulls are lacking good perimeter shooters and the defense is so so right now. They better get it together going on the west coast trip and start playing like their similar team the Jazz of the west.

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