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Phil Jackson Says Michael Jordan More Coachable than Kobe Bryant

Phil Jackson sure likes to beat a dead horse.

The former New York Knicks president had front court seats and backdoor passes to two of the greatest shooting guards of all time in Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. He won six championships with the Chicago Bulls and another five with the Los Angeles Lakers.

After repeating that Jordan was the better player between the two—largely because of his strength, athleticism and huge hands—Jackson added another category this time: coachability.

“There was something coachable about Michael that Kobe didn’t have,” Jackson said during the Domo conference in Utah on Wednesday. “But Kobe had an irrepressible fire.”

He said that if he benched Jordan because he believed that his superstar was hogging the ball too much or showboating, the 6-6 player would perform better once he came back in.

“He’d know what he’d done. He had a conscience,” he said.

Bryant, meanwhile, would be shadowing him all the time and yapping on his ear to go back in. That same drive, he said, was what drove a wedge between the 6-6 Lakers guard and their dominant center, Shaquille O’Neal.

“The reason Kobe was unhappy with Shaq (O’Neal) was (because of) his drive,” he said. “Kobe believed Shaq didn’t care enough about the game.”

In his 2013 book “Eleven Rings,” he already compared the two players and thought that Jordan was better in all aspects—even social skills as the Bulls guard was friendlier to everybody than Kobe.

As to physical attributes, he claimed that Jordan “was stronger, with bigger shoulders and a sturdier frame. He also had large hands that allowed him to control the ball better and make subtle fakes.”

There’s been a mutual respect between Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. Jordan himself said that in his prime, he doesn’t think that he would lose to any player one-on-one other than Kobe before quipping that the third-all time in the scoring list “stole all my moves.”

Bryant, for his part, credited Jordan for mentoring him when he was still a young player and trying to soak in everything he could in the NBA.