Okay, I’m not saying he is. But he’s definitely up there. Even before his passing.
He obviously wasn’t better than MJ, and didn’t dominate his sport like some others. But after seeing his impact across multiple countries and different sport athletes, he might have been the most influential athlete of all time.
- Kobe came to fame during the internet and social media age. Jordan didn’t. NBA was yet to really go global in the 80’s and 90’s. By the 2000’s, the NBA was second to soccer in world popularity.
- Everyone plays basketball. What kid hasn’t grown up and shot hoops at their local park? Now take Tom Brady for example, I don't think I’ve ever tried to play QB. Or Lawrence Taylor, I’ve never lined up and tried to sack someone. I’d bring up baseball as an example, but MLB just doesn’t have the star power of NFL and NBA. I think the only comparison would be soccer, which is huge globally but not in America. Maybe I’m being a close minded American, but if you aren’t having a major influence on America, you can’t be the most influential (I hate that statement but I think it’s true).
Only other guys I can think of who compare to Kobe are Tiger Woods and LeBron James.