With Kobe Bryant perhaps on the verge of winning his fifth career championship, it's time to start asking the questions: Are Kobe's Lakers just as good as Michael's Bulls, and how does Bryant compare to Jordan?
They’re certainly interesting questions, although I can hear people screaming that you can't judge the two fairly since Bryant had Shaquille O'Neal for three of those titles.
Still, there are similarities.
"A lot of good players," Lakers forward Ron Artest told me recently. "Those shooters, clutch shooters. Lamar [Odom] reminds me of Toni a lot, Toni Kukoc. It's kind of cool. There's a lot of players on the team that remind me of players that were on those Bulls teams."
Artest should know. Like many people growing up in the ‘90s, the forward grew up watching Jordan and company. He watched the Bulls create their legacy, and now he is trying to help the Lakers build upon one. He signed with the Lakers last summer specifically so he could win a title.
"I wasn't thinking about money," Artest said. "I was thinking about winning. I wasn't negotiating. I didn't care about no negotiating."
Some people have compared Artest to being the defensive/emotional presence Dennis Rodman provided the Bulls during their second title run. He had a few more comparisons of his own.
"[Derek] Fisher with the clutch shooting like [Steve] Kerr and [John] Paxson," Artest continued. "It's kind of cool just being on a team like that. And that was your favorite team growing up, it's kind of cool just living that. It's kind of unexpected, I never would have thought that."
Bryant, like Jordan, has the ability to take his team to another level. That's why Artest, and many others, believes Kobe is starting to encroach on Jordan's level.
"[Kobe] doesn't like it," Artest said of the comparisons between the two players. "He just wants to be the best Kobe. He wants to be the best Kobe, but me, I always like to, in my spare time, compare him to Michael. But he just wants to be the best he can be."