Latest News, NBA / Feb 7, 2011 / 2:00 pm

Lamar Odom On Kobe: “He Wants To Be Better Than Michael Jordan”

Don’t ask me how I stumbled upon Lamar Odom‘s interview in the new issue of Playboy, but I’ll be the first person to tell you to read it. Spanning everything from learning the game in New York City to his controversial college career to his first couple years in the League, L.O. is brutally honest in everything he discusses. So much so that when he’s asked what would happen if a sex tape of him and his wife Khloé Kardashian leaked out he responds, “We wouldn’t have anything to be ashamed about.” But amidst all the stories, there’s one that stood out to me about Kobe Bryant – probably because he vocalized something that we’ve all been thinking for years.

Playboy: Bryant has a reputation for being volatile and critical. Did you have to learn to deal with it?
LO: I respected it. After a short period I understood that Kobe’s trying to accomplish what most people would be scared to even admit.

Playboy: And what’s that?
LO: He wants to be better than Michael Jordan. Most people would be scared to admit that because that guy was that good and did that much. So you have to understand that what Kobe’s trying to get as a basketball player and what it takes to get there, a lot of us don’t even have the gall, the balls, the will. If you walk into a barbershop right now you can start that argument. He’s doing those things to start that argument.

Regardless of whether or not you want to start this debate, take some time to read the full interview HERE.

What do you think?

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  • http://www.dimemag.com panchitoooo


  • JH

    Please post a warning next time you post a link from playboy.com. Some of us browse your site from work. Hahaha

  • neelio

    Uh, sorry, until he wins at least 4 more FINALS MVPs, he is not in the discussion. Remember, you can’t just go by rings, or else players like Horry are in the argument too.

    You have to LEAD your team to the ring. He has done that only twice (the second being debatable, I thought Pau was actually the Finals MVP).

    People will argue this to death, but if you really look at the stats (FG%, PER, etc), its not even close.

    Moreover, if you actually watched MJ play, you realize MJ could do things with the ball (due to his huge hands and better hops and strength), that Kobe simply can not do. For instance, the one-hand shot/pass fakes MJ always did, Kobe does not have in his arsenal.

  • NTstateOFmind

    again with this classic bar room argument …but again it always comes down to that hes not as close as he thinks (to being the GOAT)

  • ctkennedy

    Jordan was CLEARLY the best player in the league from 85-98…Kobe durin his career might got it CLEARLY 2yts tops…as far as the other stuff Jordan beats Kobe in everything but 3s made n range on the jumper

  • http://www.mmajunkie.com rangerjohn

    you know the old saying about wanting in one hand and shitting in the other, see which one fills up faster!

  • FreeZ

    kobe will have the better career, no minor league baseball urge. but he will never have the impact of MJ. they should just change the nba logo to jordan’s. jordan kills every stat comparison and he started the whole # changing coming back w/ 45. karl malone scored more, but is he better? nah

  • neelio

    Same comparison made by Sam Smith today: http://www.nba.com/bulls/news/smith_110207.html

    Excerpt below:

    Comparing Michael and Kobe…
    — Oakland used to be the one place Michael Jordan actually feared, as Jordan did have his share of superstitions. That was where he broke his foot in 1985, actually, at least according to the doctors then, potentially endangering his career. So it was interesting when someone pointed out that the veteran columnist from the San Francisco Chronicle, Bruce Jenkins, noted Kobe Bryant last week matched the total number of games played in his career, 1,072, that Jordan played.

    Who’s better? Again!

    The numbers favor Jordan: 30.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.3 assists and 49.7 percent shooting and five league MVP awards; for Bryant 25.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.7 assists and 45.5 percent shooting and one MVP.

    There’s little debate outside Los Angeles, though Bryant is going for his second three-peat this season with Phil Jackson. That’s pretty special in itself. And Bryant never got that year and a half break from the game Jordan that that reinvigorated him. That, too, is a classic, What if? If there were no baseball strike/lockout, we likely would be saying Bryant was better.

    Although many predicted Jordan would be back to basketball, he was determined, especially in light of the media piling on, to make the major leagues. And I believe he would have done so. After that one season at Birmingham, he developed more power and was a better hitter in fall league ball against some very good pitching. Though Jordan was being scheduled again for Birmingham and Double A, the White Sox were beginning to believe Jordan could make the majors as a backup outfielder. His arm was strong and his range was good and he might hit just enough. And we know Jordan’s competitive life pretty much was built around answering challenges and staring down critics.

    But when baseball wasn’t ready to open for the 1995 season, the league was pushing for Jordan to be a replacement player. The union was furious. White Sox managing partner Jerry Reinsdorf, though a key ownership figure, advised Jordan not to be a replacement player for the good of his image and legacy. It was only then Jordan decided to return to the NBA.

    Perhaps he would have in two or three more seasons, maybe 1997 or 1998, after getting to the majors. But would he then ever been the unapproachable six-time champion Michael Jordan? We saw what the years did when he returned to Washington in 2001.

    Kobe never had the popularity of Jordan, though Bryant isn’t as morose as he often plays to be. In mimicking Jordan in basketball much of his life, it seems at times Bryant takes on a Zelig-like nature in becoming whom he feels he should be. I was out with Bryant socially a few years back and he was engaging and funny. When I asked him about the comparison between he and Jordan, he laughed and said there never could be one. Bryant said Jordan had become almost an urban legend, that people talked about him now like he never missed a shot. Bryant said it was fine, that you can’t compete with that and shouldn’t bother.

    Kobe, in the end, may get that seventh championship to pass Jordan. But he never changed the game with the weight of his personality and image as Jordan did. He was just the next one. He was never quite the team leader and public inspiration. He never quite had the playoff moments Jordan did, big shots and big games without a flaw while Kobe had some massive low points like the Finals loss to the Pistons when the team self destructed and a bad first round playoff loss to the Suns after blowing a big lead. Technically, Kobe may have more depth to his shot, though Jordan claimed a better shooting percentage by driving the ball more often. Both truly were great clutch shot makers, though. It’s difficult to be better, a relative term, anyway, when you are almost literally following in the footsteps: Same coach, same style game. Give Bryant credit the way more than perhaps anyone in the game today he routinely plays through injuries that would have others out for week or months.

    The difference is not so much Jordan transcended the game with his play. It’s who he was and what he did. He carried that responsibility handed down previously from Dr. J to be something of an ambassador of the game, its gatekeeper to the future.

    Yes, Jordan ushered the game into its next stage of marketing and commercialism, yet he kept it from becoming a farce. He eventually would be charged with ridding the game of its villainous elements with the morality play of defeating the Pistons and presenting and preparing the game for the next millennium. So Jordan was more seminal figure, carrying a responsibility with him that overrode the transitory nature of mere games. Those who follow are only asked to do their best. So you don’t compare players and statistical achievements to Jordan.

    Bryant’s one of the game’s great ones. As they say, it’s just nice to be compared with Washington, Lincoln and Jefferson. You just never had the responsibility.



  • LakeShow84

    Unfortunately Shaq made sure that would never happen lol

  • Rafa23

    kobe never, yes NEVER, shot over 50% percent for a season.
    And Dont say thats cause Kobe shoots so many 3s, he is still way behind Michael in terms of efficiancy.

    Kobe never had a really dominating Finals series. 2002 was pretty good, but Shaq dominated. 2009 was very good, but he shot just 43%.
    The biggest problem for me are the finals 2004 and 2008. he was awful in both. abd lol@ game 7 last year.
    sorry, but with so many bad moments on the biggest stage, there is now way he is as good as MJ.

  • Cal

    That’s funny cuz jordan was the man late 80’s and 90’s but now in the 20’s kids don’t know nothing about jordan except for his shoes. They will say kobe was the best because he is the one they see on tv now and once he leave its going to be a debate about lebron and kobe. You really can’t compare 2 people in 2 different times because that discussion will never have a clear winner.

  • bobby stew

    Kobe has a way better handle and jumpshot than Jordan. But until Kobe gets 6 or 7 rings i got Mike

  • what_if?

    both MJ and Kobe won ‘chips with Phil as a coach… both won ‘chips with the triangle offense at their disposal…

    but only 1 of them won all of his ‘chips as “THE Man”

    and… only 1 of them won without a dominant (scoring) big man…

    I guess that settles the argument…

  • SoulChorea

    All I gotta say is that Kobe’s the only one that can spark this argument. Any other player…ANY OTHER PLAYER and you’d get laughed out the building for even suggesting that they’re on par with Mike. But Kobe – he makes you argue it. You have to argue it to make your point, and I think that’s his greatest accomplishment. Of COURSE he’s not going to be as great as Mike; even he knows that. But if he can get his basketball resume to be in the same realm when its all said and done; I’m convinced that’s all he cares about. And if he can get that 6th or 7th ring, then he would be the younger generation’s version of Mike, and you only get one player of that caliber PER ERA.

  • Pugz

    its closer than many think. kobe’s not as closely watched by as many as jordan was. people should see the way he controls a game.

  • Zack

    If this is true, it’s sad that he still strives for this. I’m all for trying to be the best, but you can try without chasing a name. The more he tries to be better than Jordan, the less people are going to remember him for him. Just do you and play ball. No one will ever be Jordan, no one will ever be Kobe, no one will ever be Lebron. They’re all ridiculously great players who will go down in the top 10 best players ever. Be content with that.

  • Michorizo

    They both like white chicks…

  • Stylez G. Write

    This is true,but no way Kobe wears tagless Hanes…

  • Darrell

    Jordan had better teams. No one seems to remember that it took Jordan 7 years to win his first championship. Remember those 3 years he lost to the pistons? And who did he beat in the finals? Well there was an aging Magic that first year. I bet no remembers who else was on that team. Then Jordan and co beat.. I forgot, but I am sure they were from out West. Just think if Kobe had Pippen, Rodman, Harper, Cartwright, Grant, Hodges and others playing some mediocre teams for the championship? The only good team I saw the Bulls beat was the Knicks when Ewing and Oakley were there. Mike was good but so were his teammates.

  • matt

    Magic is the GOAT. Lots of ppl overlook him because he was a point guard. Ppl think because he wasn’t a scorer he wasn’t great. It doesn’t matter, he was the maestro for the lakers and played against an equal opponent (albeit at SF, not PG) in Bird, him and Bird brought back the NBA like no other player could. Jordan’s advantage was in his era he didn’t really have a rival. Magic vs Bird was the best because those teams were fairly equal as they both had great players, role players, and bench players. 1.MAGIC. The rest in no particular order: MJ,Kobe,B.Russell,Chamberlain,Kareem,TD,Hakeem, Shaq and Bird. Top Ten of all time.

  • hakasan

    how is lebron ridicuously great again? among players without a ring, he comes no where close to malone in terms of scoring and rebounding, no where close to stockton in terms of assists, no where close to kidd in terms of trip/dub…. i’ve no doubt that one day he could be part of the legendary group, but not now… not just yet…

  • ab40

    stats, rings, scoring averages and millions of people say it’s not even close.. get real.

  • don_mega


    see post # 14

  • http://250aspirin.blogspot.com DJ Leon Smith

    After the 2008 Finals the comparisons should have stopped. No way Jordan gives up a 24-point lead at home and then loses the deciding game by 39 points in a finals series.

    Having said that, Kobe is clearly the “Jordan” of this era. He’s just not Michael.

  • jzsmoove

    how the fuck is this even still an argument? all lamar odom is a shit disturber.

  • Student of the Game

    **sigh** First I wanna say Kobe Bryant is my favorite player. Ever. Now that that is out of the way. Even if Kobe possibly does end up with more rings than Jordan. He will never be considered better. People love Jordan too much. They act like he never had bad games. People act like the disparity between Jordan’s game and Kobe’s game is huge. When it really isn’t. People are too blind to realize that. “Jordan was a better leader.” How can you say that? Im pretty sure none of us were in any of those Bulls locker rooms back in the day. Also. People say Kobe couldn’t win without Pau or Shaq. Jordan had Scottie Pippen. One of the greatest 2 way players ever. Look what the Jordan-less bulls did after he retired…. They were still a very good team. Take Kobe off the current Lakers and i promise they don’t win 50 games. Im not saying Kobe is better than Jordan. Im just sayin dont be blind enough to think its not even close. and again. Kobe is my favorite player ever. So yea.

  • QQ

    Not better than MJ right now.

    But still closer… MUCH MUCH CLOSER, than Lebron.

    And don’t even count the personality side of things. That would make Rodman closer to MJ than Bron.

  • Jade

    Jordan won without a dominant big man !!! That’s reason enough to be G.O.A.T !!!

  • K Dizzle

    This dominant big man shit needs to be squashed. Clowns post like they never heard of Scottie Pippen. If Kobe had Scottie in his prime, he wouldn’t need Shaq to cop rings either. Let’s be real for a minute:

    1) Mike
    2) Magic
    3) Kobe (when it’s all said n done)

  • http://dimemag.com Aryan

    i smell lot of hate here..but kobe is close…keep on hating..haters..im out like lebron..no loyalty..



  • http://www.curtpalme.com/forum/files/you_re_a_homo_767.jpg JAY

    Agree w/ K Dizzle

    Can we say Kobe > Magic?? I can’t. He’s a better individual talent but NOBODY lifted their team like Magic did. He used the 4 other players on the court as an extension of himself because he was so atuned to their strength and weaknesses. Personally I don’t measure greatest with rings. Getting a ring is more of an indication how good a team is than it shows how good a player is. Example, KG was in his prime with Minnesota but got his ring in Boston… does that mean all of a sudden he turned awesome in Boston?? KG was the same dude in Minnesota but he played with a stacked team in Boston. Or another argument is, since KG has a ring, does that make him greater than Barkley?? IMO, fuck no.

    If you put the rings aside, IMO, Magic > Kobe.

  • http://www.curtpalme.com/forum/files/you_re_a_homo_767.jpg JAY

    @Darell: I’m about to dissect your post homie….

    “Jordan had better teams.”
    You’re kidding right? Really? For his first 3-peat, he had Pippen, Grant, Cartwright, Wennington, Armstrong, Paxson, and a bunch of ass-wipes.

    “No one seems to remember that it took Jordan 7 years to win his first championship. Remember those 3 years he lost to the pistons?”
    What’s wrong with that?? The Pistons were the East’s powerhouse who won back-to-back chips.

    “And who did he beat in the finals? Well there was an aging Magic that first year. I bet no remembers who else was on that team. ”
    Are you serious?? Lol. If YOU don’t remember who played on that team, don’t assume nobody else remembers. Lol. With a comment like that I bet you were a baby when it happened. or maybe not even born yet.

    “Then Jordan and co beat.. I forgot, but I am sure they were from out West. ”
    Smart… “out west”… did you figure that one out all by yourself? Try PORTLAND. Now it’s obvious u were a kid back then.

    “Just think if Kobe had Pippen, Rodman, Harper, Cartwright, Grant, Hodges and others playing some mediocre teams for the championship?”
    Look at my first rebuttal… Other than Pippen, and Grant, MJ won his first 3 rings in a row with guys who wouldn’t start on other teams. If Kobe played with Pippen, first of, i don’t think they could co-exist. and if Kobe played with MJ’s first 3-peat team, I’m not sure if they would have beaten the Pistons team. MJ made changes and became more of a passer when he finally beat the Pistons. It took Kobe 10 years to learn to trust his teammates. ALL of MJ’s teammates, including Pippen, leaned on him. Some of Kobe’s teammates complain about playing with Kobe.

    “The only good team I saw the Bulls beat was the Knicks when Ewing and Oakley were there. Mike was good but so were his teammates.”
    As I’ve been saying, his first 3-peat team wasn’t that good. I think you’re only thinking of his second 3-peat team.
    Since you can’t remember his first 3-peat team… and you didn’t remember the team “out west”…. and you failed to recall the other teams he beat… we’re forced to assume you were just too young to recall his games.

    BTW, remember the Dream Team?? You know, the Olympic team filled with the greatest players of all time?? MJ beat every single one of those guys and they were all on good teams. So for you to say he didn’t beat any good teams, is absurd. How many of today’s players can hold a candle to The Admiral, Ewing, Bird, Drexler, Malone/Stockton, Barkley, and Magic? That was the greatest collection of player EVER and none of them could take a ring from Mike. I could also post the Dream Team 2 roster and say the same thing.

  • what_if?

    @ K Dizzle

    the “big man” argument is a legit one… if you look at the past teams who won the ‘chip… most had a dominant big to anchor the middle… from Russel to Wilt to Walton to Reed… to Hakeem… Duncan… Kareem… Shaq…

    “If Kobe had Scottie in his prime, he wouldn’t need Shaq to cop rings either.”

    i don’t think so sir…

  • JR

    If he is trying to be better than MJ and lands a little short, hey, top 2 or even top 5 player of all time aint bad at all. Go for it Kobe!


    He already is better than MJ, whats to try lol


    Not in the same stratosphere, I’m not gonna talk influence on the game because that’s just overkill. Kobe is far from Mike’s numbers and MJ took time off to go play baseball. The man got tired of being the best to ever do it to go suck at baseball and give the league time to catch up…and then came back and 3 peated again! Kobe will forever be MJ’s SON!

  • http://www.curtpalme.com/forum/files/you_re_a_homo_767.jpg JAY

    MJ dropped 55 points his third game back… in Madison Square Garden. GOAT.

  • SoulChorea

    Pippen, Grant, and a bunch of dead-eye shooters is better than any team Kobe had hands down. I hate when people act like Jordan’s teams were terrible. He had a fellow hall of famer and a few GREAT 3 point shooters. Kobe has at best a possible hall of famer and on the last two championship teams a bunch of inconsistent babies (farmar, sasha, etc). Gasol does not make Kobe’s teams better than Jordan’s; NO WAY

  • The Goods

    The entire article is an awesome read – Kobe will not ever be better than Mike but he is well on the way to being 1B.

  • http://www.curtpalme.com/forum/files/you_re_a_homo_767.jpg JAY

    Not counting this years’ team, because they have yet to win the ring….
    Artest, Gasol, Odom are all former or current all-stars. On top of them, Bynum is a beast.

    In his first 3-peat, MJ had Pip and Grant. Other than them, who else was there?? Are you actually saying Paxson, Armstrong, and Hodges (who didn’t even play much) is better than any of Kobe’s championship teams?? That’s amusing. You do realize that those “few GREAT 3 point shooters” <–your words, all played the same position, right? So there was only 1 shooter on at a time.

    "Gasol does not make Kobe’s teams better than Jordan’s; "
    You're right…. Odom, Artest AND Gasol do.

  • Charles B.

    To be better then Jordan, he doesn’t necessarily have to be more inspiring, and all that non basketball stuff, he just needs to surpass him in the basketball categories, and it IS possible.

  • beiber newz

    kobe was a big part of every champonship ring he has, lets not b foolish number 3

  • neelio
  • A.R.

    I hate how people seriously try to play like Kobe didn’t have his fingerprints all over those “Shaq titles”. The 1st chip is really the only time I could ever consider him a sidekick. Other than that he was handling business on the perimeter the way Shaq was handling it down low. They both would drop around 30 points a game in the playoffs during that run. And don’t say Shaq could of won those without Kobe cause we all know thats bullshit. And saying he could have with another perimeter star of that era (McGrady,Carter,Iverson,etc.) is just as dumb because I’m sure Kobe could of won with another superstar down low (Duncan). Either way it goes 5 rings is 5 rings, nobody can take them no matter how hard they try to downplay them. That said, Kobe aint catching Jordan, but we’ve known this for quite some time. This is a different era and he’s been the best of it like Jordan was his and like so many other superstars were the best of theirs.

  • A.R.

    And btw in the list of AMAZING basketball players that have to come along in the NBA, the fact that he’s being mention as “possibly” better than Jordan or as good speaks volumes to how great a player he truly has been