Shooting Guards, A Dying Breed?


Kobe or MJ? That has been the long lasting argument from the first time Bryant and Jordan stepped foot on the same court in 1996. Jordan’s Bulls would win that game in OT, but the fire was lit for one of the greatest barbershop debates since Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell. In head to head match ups, Kobe holds a 5-3 record over Jordan. While neither of the two were in their primes when they faced off, they both always gave it their all when the ball was tipped. Both were masters of their craft, putting in hours upon hours of practice to be the best when they stepped out onto the court. Being born with a win-at-all-cost mentaility, individually they have made their marks in the NBA as two of the greatest to ever do it.  They have made their mark to be the two greatest shooting guards ever.

With Jordan being retired now for thirteen years and this being Bryant’s last in his twenty year career, some may start to wonder, who is the next unstoppable force at the shooting guard position? Being the man to guard a Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan, would send a sense of nervousness into defenders because you knew you were going to be the guy guarding the best player on the court that night. If the seconds were ticking down, you knew they were going to have the ball in their hands, and it was up too you to not let them get that shot off, or at least not a good one. There are many good players at the position in the NBA today, with names like James Harden, Klay Thompson, Demar DeRozan and Jimmy Butler. Though many may argue that these players don’t thirst for the ring and the trophy the way MJ and Kobe have. Almost all of them when asked, “Who was your favorite player growing up?”, might answer with either Bryant or Jordan. Being pioneers in the shooting guard position, both would continue to set the bar higher for the players who came after them to try and raise it themselves.

All four have shown flashes of greatness in their own respects. In 2014-15 Harden became the first player to score 50+ points for the Houston Rockets twice in one season, setting a franchise record. Klay Thompson caught fire in a 2015 game against the Sacramento Kings, scoring a NBA record 37 points in one quarter, going 13-13 from the field including another league record nine 3 point shots made. DeRozan would go for his career high against Harden in a March 2015 match up, scorching Houston for 42 points, while tying his career high 11 rebounds in a double-double effort to earn an 99-96 victory. This year in January, Jimmy Butler went off for 53 points versus the 76er’s to win in it overtime 115-111. He would become 3rd in Bull’s history in games with 40+ points, the second Bulls player since Michael Jordan to have a 50pt/10reb/5ast game in thirty years and the only Chicago Bull other than MJ to make 20+ free throws in a single game. As impressive as those numbers are, all of them have a long way to go to be mentioned in the same sentence as Kobe and Jordan. With a league being dominated by point guards like Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard and Russell Westbrook. Versatile small forwards in LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Paul George who are relentless on both sides of the ball. The question stands, will any of them ever become the Hall of Fame caliber shooting guards Michael and Kobe were? Only time will tell.

About Emanuel Godina

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