The National Basketball Association (NBA) touts Michael Jordan as the greatest basketball player of all time because of his outstanding achievements in the league and contributions in popularizing the sport around the world. Who is the rightful successor of the title after the Chicago Bulls legend officially retired in 2003?
NBA's Best Player Since MJ
ESPN launched a poll on Wednesday asking online basketball fans to vote for the NBA's best player since Jordan. As of press time, freshly retired Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant and Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James emerged as the top choices for the title.
Bryant dominated the poll with more than 23,000 votes or 48 percent of the total number of participants. James trailed behind with almost 18,000 votes or 36 percent of the overall votes.
Aside from Bryant and James, retired San Antonio Spurs legend Tim Duncan made it to the list with 9 percent of the total number of votes. Hall of Famer Shaquille O'Neal and Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry completed the top five with 3 percent each.
Is Bryant the Successor of Jordan?
Despite having a well-documented up-and-down relationship with Bryant, O'Neal recently told ESPN that his former teammate is the NBA's best player since Jordan. The three-time NBA Finals MVP said that the Black Mamba possesses Jordan-like attitude on the court.
It is not the first time that O'Neal hailed Bryant as the successor of Jordan. Last year, he shared on "The Dan Patrick Show" that he would choose Bryant in his prime over James.
On the other hand, James was very vocal about his goal of chasing Jordan's legacy. He told ESPN's Rachel Nichols last month that he wanted to surpass the achievements of Jordan and become the best basketball player in the history of the league.
James vs. Bryant: Stat Comparison
Bryant had a decorated 20-year career with the Lakers. The 18-time All-Star won five NBA championships, two NBA Finals MVP honors and one NBA MVP award.
Bryant ended his career in the league with an average of 25 points, 4.7 assists and 5.2 rebounds. His all-time high record was in the 2005-06 NBA season where he averaged a whopping 35.4 points, 4.5 assists and 5.3 rebounds in 80 games.
On the other hand, James won three NBA championships, three NBA Finals MVP awards and four NBA MVP honors. He already averaged 27.2 points, 6.9 assists and 7.2 rebounds in the past 13 seasons. Just like Bryant, he obtained his most impressive record in the 2005-06 NBA season where he averaged 31.4 points, 6.6 assists and 7 rebounds in 79 games.
Who is the NBA's best player since Michael Jordan? Is it Bryant or James? Cast your votes below.