Phil Jackson Explains Why He Asked Kobe Bryant To Be A Playmaker And Not Michael Jordan

Phil Jackson led 11 championship teams as their head coach over two franchises, winning six with Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls before winning five with the Lakers, having Kobe Bryant on his squad for all five title wins.

Jackson once said to ESPN that Kobe might have the best overall court game he's ever seen in a player due to his playmaking ability, something he never asked Jordan to develop. 

"I've always held the bar up very high for Kobe and he's not only reached that bar, but he's jumping over the top of it right now. It's the best that I've seen a player of mine play with an overall court game... I never asked Michael to be a playmaker. That's the greatest player I ever had, that I could consider the greatest player in the game. Yet I never asked him to be a playmaker in those terms. I asked him to be a playmaker when he was doubled or tripled." 

Jackson elaborated on Kobe's load as a playmaker and declared it as necessary growth needed in the career of the Lakers' star.

"Kobe has to set up the offense, read the defense, and make others happy and he's doing a great job of it. Kobe has become the floor leader on a basketball team that was looking for that player who can not only be a scorer but also be a playmaker who can consistently make big plays at critical times. It was very important for Kobe to step into that role he was envisioned at."

Jackson often finds himself discussing Jordan and Kobe given his extensive relationship with both stars. The players also shared an incredibly close bond, as both recognized that the other was arguably the greatest player to ever live.

Did Kobe Bryant Ever Reach The Level Of Michael Jordan?

Kobe Bryant was always compared to Michael Jordan due to the similarities in their games. Kobe approached the game with the same dedication that MJ did but unfortunately, never could match up to the dizzying heights that Jordan enjoyed as a player. 

Kobe was a standout defender but could never win Defensive Player of the Year. He didn't win Finals MVP for more than half his chips, as compared to Jordan taking home six Finals MVPs over his career. Even when we look at MVP trophies, Kobe could only win one to Jordan's five. 

The length of Kobe's career allowed him to catch up to many of MJ's all-time records and even surpass him on the all-time scoring list, but Kobe's highs were simply not as good as MJ's. 

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