The "Shadow" Myth

The whole "Lebron won't play in Chicago because of Michael Jordan's shadow" argument has bugged the ever loving shit out of me (as it has most Bulls fans) for a while now. I always knew the reasons why I thought it was a complete joke, but it wasn't until today, the day after the NBA Finals, that I had the proper ammunition to fully back up my reasoning.

According to this bullshit theory, Lebron should be able to sign with the Knicks, buy a cushy Manhattan apartment, hang out wih John Mcenroe and Spike Lee, and as long as he wins 1 or 2 championships, he'll become the KING OF THE WORLD and the hero that brought the roar back to the MECCA (ugh, that hurts to write). And no one will ever dare to question how he stacks up against the greatest player ever. Meanwhile, if Lebron where to sign with the Bulls, every shot that he takes, every win, every failure will be scrutinized to nth degree because it's the city and building where Michael played.

The problem is, there's this guy, his name is Kobe Bryant, he plays just about as far as an NBA player can play from the United Center. Similar to Lebron, he is considered one of the greatest players of his generation. Unlike Lebron though, Kobe has won a Championship, several in fact, and last night, he won his fifth. So, if the only way that your game gets compared to Michael Jordan is by playing in Chicago, and since Kobe plays in Los Angeles, all of the headlines today (the day after winning a Championship) should be praising Kobe as one of the greatest to ever lace 'em up, with nary a mention of Michael, right? Well, let's take a look...

First, here's Michael Wilbon:

And then it was on ... the discussion about Kobe's place in Lakers history, basketball history, sports history, because we obsess over perspective now, as much the fault of sports columnists and TV talkers as anything.

...there is this need in some quarters to ask the question as to whether Kobe has pulled even with the likes of Magic and Jordan.

So let me answer the question very quickly.
Absolutely not.

Chris Broussard:

He's not Jordan's equal, and I don't think he ever can be, let alone overtake him as the G.O.A.T. Michael averaged 33.6 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists on 48 percent shooting while never losing a Finals series. He dominated every Finals he played in ways Kobe has not come close to doing.

The NEW YORK (::ahem::) Times:

A popular story line for next season was crafted Thursday night when Kobe Bryant won his fifth championship ring, putting him one behind Michael Jordan...


Bryant was as mortal as you've ever seen him in the most pressurized game of his career, Game 7 of the NBA Finals. Michael Jordan he wasn't.


If Bryant were really Michael Jordan reincarnated (which he isn’t), he would never have tolerated losing a championship series. Jordan’s true dominance with the Chicago Bulls came from the fact that he was 6-0 all-time in NBA Finals appearances. Bryant stands at a respectable 5-2 — a fact that helped lead AP Sports columnist Jim Litke to argue before game 7 that no matter what Bryant does in the future, he will never escape Michael’s shadow.


With his most recent championship, Bryant also tied Lakers Hall of Fame point guard Magic Johnson and moved one away from Michael Jordan, a player with whom he is most often compared.

Jay Mariotti:

But is he Jordan? I think not...

Hollinger (acknowledging all the comparisons) :

The silly “Kobe has five, Michael has six” debates we had all week now seem more ludicrous than ever after his teammates bailed him out on a night that would allegedly decide his legacy.

The Kansas City Star agrees:

This is the curse of being Kobe Bryant: Win or lose another championship, he will never escape Michael Jordan's shadow. Neither will anyone else.

Finally, even Michael's own son, Marcus, eloquently states:

NO ONE...And I mean NO ONE should EVER com par kobe Bryant to my dad an say that he is anywhere near close to my dad He's jagging this game

There were many others, but you get the idea. I probably didn't even need to post all of these quotes, most reasonable people know that this stuff goes on every day already, and that it will continue. In the end, the idea is simple: no matter where Lebron plays, Michael's shadow will follow. You can run, but you can't hide.

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