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Avery Johnson: “Kobe, Jordan Are Neck-and-Neck”

December 13, 2010

The debate has been raging for the past few years. Kobe has been just as dominant if not more than Michael. However, its Michael. Kobe hasn’t yet cracked the NBA’s top 5, even though he’s close, he’s still miles away from being compared to his Airness.

From New York Post:

Avery Johnson sees Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan as neck-and-neck when it comes to greatness.

“[Bryant] could arguably be 1. In some polls, he’ll be 2,” the Nets coach said yesterday about the players he has seen since he entered the NBA in 1988. “He could be 1-A and Jordan can be 1-B or Jordan, some polls they’ll be flipped.

“Fortunately I had a chance to play against both of them and now played and coached against Kobe. And boy, sometimes they’re looking like the same player.”

Lest there’s any doubt, Bryant remains the planet’s best player, even with LeBron James having won consecutive MVP awards. The Lakers superstar will be at the Prudential Center this afternoon to face the Nets, who will try to hold Bryant down, knock off the two-time defending champs and stop their own six-game skid.

Bryant, 32, comes in averaging 26.4 points – which ranks second in the NBA behind the Thunder’s Kevin Durant — but also his lowest mark since 2003-04, when he put up 24.0 per night. Bryant’s minutes (33) and shooting percentage (44) are also down, but no matter – he hasn’t slipped.

Still the best in the league?

“Oh absolutely,” Johnson said. “Oh yeah.”

Added Bryant’s former teammate, Jordan Farmar, now the Nets’ backup point guard, “Absolutely. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Farmar, who spent the last four seasons in L.A., gushed about No. 24, praising Bryant for how he helped him grow as a player. As for Bryant himself, Farmar says he’s weakness-free.

“He can do everything,” he said. “He can do everything very well and it doesn’t matter if it’s single coverage and you play good defense — he’s still making shots. If you double-team him, he can still make shots. And then if he decides to take the game over by passing, he has the ability to do that as well. He can force a double team and then pick you apart passing.

“Defensively, he’s incredible and tough. He’s just a competitor. His will to win is amazing. The list goes on and on.”

Last summer, Farmar signed a three-year $12 million contract with the Nets, as the Lakers replaced him with Steve Blake, who inked a four-year, $16 million pact. Farmar couldn’t say whether he’d have personal motivation today but insisted there were no hard feelings.

“I don’t know how I’m going to feel,” he said. “The Lakers were nothing but great throughout the whole negotiation process. They were incredibly supportive of me and my career.”

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