Jordan, of course, returned to the NBA at the age of 38 with the Washington Wizards but was far from his prime self.
Bryant, however, doesn’t believe the Jordan comparisons are valid as he told Sam Amick of USA Today that their experiences were not the same:
My 37 (years old) isn’t MJ’s 37 (when he returned after taking two seasons off to play for the Washington Wizards), you know what I mean? Nor is it the same team or the same system that he was playing in. It’s much, much different. There’s really no barometer, no (precedent) for training physically, for recovery. It’s unchartered territory.”
Kobe does make a good point in that he and Jordan, though similar in age, had gone through different obstacles in their respective careers. The major difference between the two is that Jordan had retired on two separate occasions, sitting more than four seasons whereas Kobe has played continuously throughout. Kobe also started his career at 18 while Jordan went to college and was 21 years old when he entered the league.
One thing that Lakers fans hope will be similar between the two is the production. In his first season with the Wizards, Jordan averaged 22.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 5.2 assists. If Kobe can put up those numbers this season, and stay healthy, it will be a great accomplishment for him, and the Lakers will surely be better for it.