Today on ESPN's 1st and 10 Jemele Hill proved why she should not have a job analyzing sports, particularly professional basketball. On the show she debated two points with Skip Bayless. The first was who between Kobe and Jordan was more clutch and the second was who was better at the age of 20, Durant or Lebron.
On the first point Jemele stated that Kobe was a better clutch player than His Airness. Am I a Kobe hater? Yes. Do I accept that Kobe Bryant is one of the 15 greatest players in NBA history? Yes.
To even put Kobe's ability to perform in pressure situations on the same level as Jordan's is absolutely ridiculous.
In 6 NBA Finals appearances, Jordan won six titles and six Finals MVP trophies with several game-winning Finals shots, including Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals, his last Finals appearance.
Kobe has also made 6 Finals appearances, winning 4 titles, 3 with the most dominating center of this era and has won a total of one Finals MVP trophy. He has made one game-winning Finals shot against the Pistons in Game 2 of the 2004 NBA Finals, a series the Lakers went on to lose comprehensively 4-1.
Jordan averaged 33.4 points in the playoffs, the all-time record, on 48.7% shooting from the field to go along with averages of 6.4 rebounds and 5.7 assists. All of these are increases from his regular season averages.
Kobe also has impressive playoff averages of 25.0 points on 44.7% shooting to go with 5.1 rebounds and 4.7 assists. His points and rebounds average slightly decrease from his regular season totals and his field goal percentage is nearly an entire percent lower than his regular season average. His assists average goes up by 0.1.
The fact that you can't hand check players and that the level of contact allowed now is far less than during MJ's prime makes it even more amazing to see what Jordan accomplished. I could keep going on, but if you want more proof of how in every way Jordan is more clutch, check out these stats.
Now her second argument was that Durant as 20 year-old was slightly better than James simply because he had a better outside touch. This is the most ridiculous premise to determine who's a better player because it simply neglects other aspects of the game.
Durant's average of 25.3 points per game on 47.6% shooting is outstanding. He also averaged 6.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists. All in all an extremely impressive second year in the league at the age of 20.
James played with more pressure on him as a phenom in his second year than Durant has ever experienced and averaged 27.2 points on 47.2% shooting. I will agree with Jemele that Durant has a more polished perimeter shooting game at this age than James had at that age. However James averaged 7.4 rebounds and a ridiculous 7.2 assists as well. He also averaged one more steal per game than Durant (2.2 to 1.3).
None of this is to say that Kobe is not a great player or that Durant is not one of the most talented young players in the history of the NBA. However to compare Kobe's or any player's pressure situation abilities to Jordan's is an act of stupidity anybody who watched playoff games in the 90's knows without looking at the numbers. Similarly Lebron's all-around game was so much more advanced than Durant's at the same age that looking at one aspect such as perimeter scoring and then using that as a basis to determine a better player is perhaps an even greater act of stupidity.
Then again rooting for the Celtics is exactly like rooting for Hitler, right Jemele?