Kobe Bryant will get his much-deserved farewell party at Staples Center on Wednesday evening. Last year, baseball great Derek Jeter was the toast of the sporting world and received a memorable send-off from the New York Yankees. Incidentally, both Bryant and Jeter spent exactly 20 seasons with their celebrated franchises, the Los Angeles Lakers and Yankees, before walking off into the sunset.
Also, both Bryant and Jeter won five championships and a plethora of individual awards. While Bryant won two Finals MVP awards, one MVP award and 18 All-Star selections, Jeter won one Finals MVP award, five Golden Glove awards and 14 All Star selections. There’s not a lot to choose from!
On Tuesday, ESPN polled viewers on which of the two stalwarts enjoyed the better career. As of this writing, Bryant led the poll with 63% of the votes compared to Jeter’s 37. Popular First Take analysts Stephen A Smith and Skip Bayless had deferring arguments.
While Smith believed Jeter was the better leader and therefore left behind a greater legacy, Bayless insisted that Bryant was a better athlete and transcended the game of basketball.
Jeter the greater leader?
“This is a question? What’s tough about it? Derek Jeter all the way. As great as Kobe was, two things count against him: A) the separation of him and Shaquille O’Neal, and B) how he is ending his career (with Lakers missing the playoffs three years in a row). Because of this season, and because of how dysfunctional the Lakers; this guy actually stuck around and supported this nonsense. Derek Jeter never did that. The Yankees would never subject him to that nonsense,” opined Smith.
Kobe Bryant, the better overall player
Bayless disagreed with Smith. “Kobe was a far better player than Jeter ever was. Jeter never won a solitary MVP award. At least, Kobe won once. Kobe was a better defender than Jeter was. Kobe was a better athlete. Kobe led the league in scoring four times. Even though Jeter was more of a team player and had a lesser ego, I thought Kobe conducted a redemption tour over his last two seasons and made things right with a lot of players. In my opinion, this is not even a question.”
Who had a better career? Kobe Bryant or Derek Jeter? Vote below and voice your opinions.