Kobe Bryant had the skillset of an agile guard but the size of a small forward. His tenaciously honed skills weren’t the only thing that made him such a vicious athlete. Although not as superior a jumper as Michael Jordan, Kobe was still a formidable and explosive player. He was capable of putting up high-flying performances in the air or beating them through his practiced plays.
There was another thing that set him apart from his competition. Kobe Bryant had an unbelievable reach for a player of his size and position. In fact, his reach was almost comparable to the player he molded his game around – Michael Jordan.
Kobe Bryant, a.k.a the Black Mamba, had a surprisingly large wingspan for a player his height. He had a 6 foot 11 inches wingspan that helped him gain certain advantages on defense and offense. In comparison, Klay Thompson, also a 6ft 6″ shooting guard, has a wingspan of 6′ 9″. Kobe’s wingspan is 2 inches longer than Klay’s.
As a player who modeled his game around Michael Jordan, Kobe surprisingly had very similar proportions to the Bulls legend. Both stood at 6ft 6″ and even their wingspans were almost the same. MJ just had a half inch advantage on the Mamba. Jordan’s official wingspan was measured at 6 foot 11.5 inches. Fascinatingly, though Jordan’s height and wingspan was almost the same Bryant, he had unaturaaly largen hands than his most successful mimic.
In essence, Bryant’s extra-long reach was a gift. It helped him be better as both a defensive and offensive player. Firstly, defensively, this allowed Bryant the ability to steal balls easier. Kobe averaged 1.4 steals over the span of his career. For a refence, this year’s steals leader OG Anunony is averging 2 steals per game.
Offensively, his extra reach gave him that edge. While shooting from the distance, even when guarded by players his size, Bryant had that extra wingspan to launch the shot above defensers. It also gave him an advantage while putting back missed shots or dunking the ball. Add his drive and need to perfect his game to the mix, and you had the Black Mamba.
Michael was a rarity. For a player his size, his hands were enormous. Jordan’s hand apparently measured 11.375 inches long and 9.75 inches across. In comparison, Kobe’s hands were only 9 inches long. Mamba was even a little of MJ’s hands.
Kobe: “Michael was blessed with massive hands and Dr. J as well and some of these other players. I wasn’t. I have big hands, but [Jordan and Dr. J] can literally pick up the ball like an orange, so I’ve had to do things to strengthen my hands, strengthen my forearms to make sure I have that grip to be able to do it. They obviously had the natural capabilities to do it. I had to work to get that strength to be able to do it.”
We’ll never know how good Bryant could have been with hands like Jordan. However, even without them, Kobe is one of the greatest to ever play the sport. His legend is undeniable and will carry on in every fan of the game.