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The next MJ? Forget it, he doesn't exist

The next MJ? Forget it, he doesn't exist

If anyone has come close to mirroring Jordan, it's Bryant. Even Jordan is a fan of the Los Angeles Lakers star who is at four titles and counting.

West says Bryant looks and plays like a "mini-Michael. The competitiveness, the drive, the all-round game. They both play with a flair and play to win.''

Jeff Van Gundy, who coached against Jordan and is now a TV analyst, says forget looking for the "next Jordan. It's not happening, but to me, the greatest perimeter play in the last 20 years besides Jordan is Kobe. Kobe is one of the top 15 players of all time. He has a tremendous will similar to Jordan.''

Says Ramsay: "Kobe does everything. He defends. He digs in. He will start a game like Michael, see how the defense is going to play him and figure out the best way to win. He knows he can score anytime he wants.''

DuPree says the basic difference between Bryant and Jordan is the Bulls were built around Jordan. Until Shaquille O'Neal left, the Lakers weren't built around Bryant. "The Bulls had MJ when they had nobody else and piece by piece they built the team around him. When he came into the league, Kobe always had to fit in with the Lakers.''

But Bryant, says DuPree, is a "Jordan clone. He looks like him. He plays like him. He has the same instincts. But he has more baggage than Michael had.

Roland Lazenby, author of several NBA books, wrote "Mad Game: The NBA Education of Kobe Bryant'' in 1999. It dealt largely with Bryant's evolution as the "next Jordan.''

"Michael enthused a generation of players and they all were trying to fly,'' says Lazenby. "In some ways, Kobe is the one who could actually do it. But it's been an albatross for Kobe. His ambitions has really ticked off a lot of people, but that's what's driven him and he's put in the work.''

Eddie Johnson, TV analyst and former player, agrees: "I would say we have found the 'next Jordan,' but Kobe hasn't been taken in by the people. A lot of people think he's too edgy.''

And James? Most insiders compare him only to Jordan because of his marketability. James plays the perimeter, but more resembles Magic Johnson than Jordan on the court.

"I get excited about LeBron because of his massive power, his ability to jump and his rim-shattering dunks,'' says Riley. "But there is something about Michael that was so different — his cat-like quickness, his leaping ability, the size of his hands. His charisma wasn't contrived. He wasn't going to the scorer's table, putting a bunch of stuff in his hands and throwing it in the air. Come on.''

Let's save the last word, appropriately, for Hill, the one-time "next Jordan.''

"Kobe has a lot of similarities and LeBron is a marketer's dream. But the closest to the 'next Michael' is probably Tiger Woods. And I've seen Tiger shoot jump shots. Believe me, he can.''

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: September 12, 2009


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