Phil Jackson's new book is probably a treasure trove of anecdotes, zen wisdom and insight into his five decades in the NBA. However, only one excerpt is pulling everyone's attention. After years of listening to outside observers compare Bryant to Jordan, the NBA's authoratative expert on Jordan and Bryant finally elaborated on his opinion of the two.
Via L.A. Times:
"Kobe is different. He was reserved as a teenager, in part because he was younger than the other players and hadn't developed strong social skills in college. When Kobe first joined the Lakers, he avoided fraternizing with his teammates. But his inclination to keep to himself shifted as he grew older. Increasingly, Kobe put more energy into getting to know the other players, especially when the team was on the road."
While Jackson coached, he often jabbed at Bryant's seemingly annual appearance on the NBA's All-Defensive team. Now we know why.
"No question, Michael was a tougher, more intimidating defender. He could break through virtually any screen and shut down almost any player with his intense, laser-focused style of defense," said Jackson, who coached Jordan to six championships and Bryant to five.
Presumably, Jackson's book would have had the younger Bryant seething and up in arms.
The new, calmer, more content Kobe, which we got an extended view of during the regular season simply tweets a few idioms in hashtag form and defends himself in 140 online characters.
Bryant will always have an asterik beside his legacy because he played the first half of his career beside Shaquille O'Neal. Conversely, fans tend to overlook the supporting cast Jordan was surrounded with in Chicago. Bryant still isn't ready to concede his place on the NBA hierarchy to Jordan, but at least he's more amicable these days. Suffice to say, Bryant won't have Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success on his summer reading list.