Kobe Bryant may have mimicked his moves, and LeBron James may have admitted he’s chasing his “ghost,” but it’s unlikely any player will ever match Michael Jordan’s credentials as the best player to ever pick up a basketball. Part of this is because it’s too easy to pick apart other players now, and part of it was just how unbelievable and unprecedented Jordan’s iron-willed dominance over his NBA was.
It hasn’t stopped players from trying to climb that mountain, or more commonly, media from trying to anoint “the next MJ.” From Kobe and LeBron to Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady, there have been a few attempted heirs to the throne.
While speaking with Michael Lee of the Vertical in a longer feature about why he’s still playing at age 40, Carter himself revealed who he felt came closest to matching Jordan, and Lakers fans will probably like the answer he gave (via the Vertical):
“I tried my damnedest to prove that I’m me. I’m not Michael Jordan,” Carter told The Vertical. “Kobe is probably the closest. I watched Michael Jordan. Studied him. Admired him. Super fan of him. I mean, Dr. J was my ultimate. Michael Jordan right there is a very close second. But when someone said, ‘He’s not Michael Jordan.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, I know, thank you.’ ”
It’s always been interesting to listen to how highly his fellow players think of Bryant, probably owing to just how impossible he was to guard at his peak because he had a counter for nearly any defensive strategy a team could throw at him.
Bryant’s career is done, and while he didn’t quite hit Jordan’s peak levels, Carter is correct to note he came damn close at times, and there is no shame in that.