Every year without fail we see the peanut gallery of sports writers come out with their obligatory “Kobe Bryant isn’t as great as you think he is” article. From established columnists to desperate to get their name out there bloggers, the refrain is the same – Kobe isn’t Jordan, Lebron is better than Kobe, Kobe isn’t clutch, Kobe was a sidekick for the first three titles yada yada yada.
Enough already! We get it. You need eyeballs to your website or your article, you’ll write about Kobe.
Its the oldest trick in the book. Its the basketball equivalent of going into Harlem with racist placards tied to your body Bruce Willis style in ‘Die Hard With a Vengeance’. Its sure to garner attention.
How did we get here?
Kobe Bryant is an easy target. There’s no historical player ever who’s been involved in so many important aspects of the story of the NBA. Bryant’s career bashes violently into the important themes that form the overall narrative of the history of the league.
There are numerous areas where his name creates controversy, discussion, and comparison.
He’s the first guard ever drafted out of high school.He’s the youngest All Star starter ever. He’s the last player to start an All Star Game but not start for his own team. He wasn’t 1st team all rookie but won the Rookie game MVP. He scored 30 on Jordan as a 19 year old and dropped 42 in the first half against him as a 24 year old, in both cases ignoring his teammates. He openly stated he wanted to be the greatest ever while the titleholder was still playing.
He rubbed some people the wrong way.
Even though he averaged 28.5 points a game to Shaq’s 28.7 during the 2000-01 season, and lead the team in assists and steals, was second on the team in rebounds, was the primary ball handler, perimeter defender and crunch time scorer, was he still a sidekick?
Is the 29 ppg, 7 reb, and 6 assists for the entire playoffs that year better than practically any other star’s best playoff season?
There’s always debate about his impact.
Was he better than Jordan? And if he’s not better was he at least more skilled offensively? Were Allen Iverson, Vince Carter, and Tracy McGrady his equals in the early 00’s? Did their dominance affect our perception of Kobe? Is Dwyane Wade his equal? When did Lebron James surpass Kobe as the league’s best player, and is he going to be better than him historically? Kevin Durant is a better scorer! Carmelo Anthony is more clutch! Tim Duncan is the player of the generation! James Harden has surpassed him! Russell Westbrook has Kobe’s killer instinct! Chris Paul is as competitive! Who’s the greatest Laker?
We compare every relevant player from the 1980’s to the present day to Kobe Bryant. That speaks volumes about the legend he’s crafted whether you like him, love him, or loathe him.
Let’s just lay out the resume for one last time for the haters that have come to bury someone going into their 18th season and coming off yet another 1st Team All NBA season.
Bryant has tied the record with the most 1st Team All NBA nods ever (11) and overall All NBA nods (15). He has scored the 2nd most points ever in a game. Has the record for most threes in a game, is third all time in 40 point and 50 point games, and is tied for 2nd in 60 point games.
He is tied for most 1st Team All Defense nods (9) and 2nd most nods overall (12). He’s won the most All Star MVP’s (4). He’ll retire as the all time leading scorer in the playoffs. He’ll finish top 2 in scoring, top ten in free throws,3’s and top 15 in steals. He has two scoring titles, 1 MVP, and 2 Finals MVP’s. Lastly he’s won 5 titles, made it to 7 finals, and 8 conference finals in a historically competitive conference.
There aren’t 4 other players with that resume.
Finally, let’s hear from notorious Laker hater Bill Simmons, who said in the immortal ‘Book of Basketball’, “…Kobe never reached Jordan’s ceiling as a player, but his career – the totality – might end up being greater.”
My point exactly.
There are so many great topics to opine on during the dead space between the free agency period and the opening of NBA training camps, just don’t exploit Kobe Bryant’s name and legacy to do it – like I have just done lol.