Kobe Legacy Quandry


If the Lakers win two more titles before Kobe Bryant retires, conceivable with Mr. Howard and Mr. Gasol sharing space in the front court, and Kobe sticks around long enough to break Kareem’s all time scoring record and Michael’s playoff scoring record… what will that mean for those of us over 30 and not from Cali?  Kobe fans are already militant devotees to the absolutely indisputable FACT that he’s the best player of all time.  Shaq’s 3 Finals MVPs have been forgotten, even by relatively objective observers.  Statistics are dismissed as the results of different eras or different rules (you know, if you have to deal with a mountain of evidence in favor of MJ, you need to undermine the value of the evidence off the bat).

By the by, these arguments are used no matter who’s being discussed.  If you think Oscar Robertson was the best player ever, someone is going to tell you his stats were a mirage because of the pace of the game and that he didn’t win often enough.  Wilt Chamberlain supporters will face the same claims.  If you like Bill Russell as the best ever, you’ll hear a few things – too many HoF teammates helping with the heavy lifting on offense, an ugly shooting percentage, a thin pool of opponents in a smaller league.  If Magic or Bird is your man, the counterarguments include the following words: defense, pace, usage, Kareem, Worthy, McHale, Parish, and others.

But, as usual, I digress and digress and digress, slipping words by at this petty pace from line to line.  It’s George Orwell… It’s Animal Farm… Read a book!

Back to our gnawing Kobe anxiety.  I’ve found myself defending the legacy of Mr. Bryant quite a bit on this site in various lists and rankings and projections as the advanced stats have diminished his historical place in the game.  However, I find myself oddly, maybe ridiculously, perturbed that the consensus opinion may reverse and come back too far the other way.  7 titles.  The most points ever.  The most playoff games ever.  The most total games ever.  Is there a limit to the staggering heap of accomplishments Kobe will leave behind him?  DOES that make him the best ever?  Not by my personal criteria, which I think might start with “Michael Jordan is the GOAT” and work it’s way backwards, but it’s definitely a valid conversation to have.

I wouldn’t have thought that Kobe had a chance to get himself back into the debate for best of all time a year ago.  His numbers have been slipping.  His team has fallen off that championship pace a bit.  But with the German miracle knee injection and the miraculous injection of talent into the Lakers, the possibility that the Bean jumps to the front of the line is in play once again.



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11 Responses to “Kobe Legacy Quandry”

  1. pmadavi Says:

    I think the scoring title is pretty far out of reach, especially with Howard and Nash along for the ride for a couple of years. Seven title is not out of the question though. I’m not sure how anyone can make the “best ever” argument, when concurrent players during his career (Shaq, Duncan, LeBron) pretty much outclassed him consistently.

    There is something to be said for longevity and consistency, but nobody calls Karl Malone the best PF ever despite his mountain of points and rebounds, and nobody calls Stockton the best PG ever, despite his untouchable records.

    Kobe Lovers: get real.

    • jpalumbo Says:

      I don’t know. Combine Nash’s ability to push tempo, Howard’s ability to control the glass, and Kobe’s ability to get his shot off, and he might not have a huge drop in production.

      Also if Karl had all those stats and a bunch of rings, nobody except for Bob Ryan and Charles Barkley would deny that he was the best 4 ever.

    • boyer Says:

      Maybe you need to get real, pmad. Shaq, duncan, lebron outclassed him consistently? Huh? Where have you been? Malone and stockton never won 1 title. Kobe has 5, big difference. Plus Kobe has been an elite defender for nearly a decade.

      • pmadavi Says:

        There you go. Now you don’t sound like a complete jerk.

        Shaq, Malone, and Stock weren’t elite defenders? They most certainly were. Shaq and Duncan each have THREE Finals MVPs, to Kobe’s 2. True, LeBron has only 1 title, but he has 3 Season MVP awards and 1 Finals MVP award. But he’s insanely more efficient than Kobe. He’s younger, more athletic, and more productive on top. There’s never been a time in his career when Kobe was CLEARLY the best active player, let alone the best ever.

      • boyer Says:

        Might want to take your own advice. You were talking about malone/stockton, not sure how shaq got in there. But, none of those 3 were close to as good as great as long as Kobe was. Well, fine, if the only criteria you’re using is finals mvps, then shaq/duncan have him beat, and russell is by far the best player ever. Are you going to say that as well? Yes, lebron is better than kobe right now, duh, but for their respective careers, lebron hasn’t even come close to doing what Kobe has done. Your hatred speaks volumes. Kobe was clearly the best from 06-08 at the very least, and was the overall performer for 09-10. I think you’re forgetting Lebron’s disappearing acts in 10 and 11, in which he quit on his teams, both favorites I might add, including not even making the finals on the top team in the nba in 09 and 10. Kobe’s played on the #1 seeded in his conf. 4x, and made the finals each time, winning 3, only losing to a better c’s team in 08.

      • pmadavi Says:

        I’m not a hater, boyer. What I’m trying to get across is that there’s now way Kobe is the best ever, since it’s an argument that he’s even the best of his generation.

        I have him as a top 5 SG all time. If that passes for hate in your book, you need to loosen your standards. Speaking of which, it’s pretty obvious you have a love of Kobe that might be coloring your lense slightly.

        Please also know, we don’t make any money off this website. We don’t charge any money for this website. And we write for our own edification. What I don’t have time for is rudeness when expressing opinions. I don’t write on this site to catch grief from anonymous readers. And I reserve the right to edit reader responses in any way I see fit. Keep your opinions to basketball please, otherwise you might find them completely re-written for my own amusement.

  2. Erik Sabin Says:

    I will out right say I am biased toward Michael Jordan and I can give you a several reasons why “I” think he is the best player ever, but that doesnt really matter. I dont work for ESPN or the NBA, I’ve never played professional basketball and I’m not a sports statician. So who would be most qualified to answer this question? How about the players themselves. Thankfully Jordans career happened to over lap with Magics, Birds, Shaq’s, and Kobe’s. Ask any player who had the displeasure of playing against all of them and they will all give you the same answer: Michael Jordan was the best to ever play the game! Nuff Said.

    • jpalumbo Says:

      Whoa! A reader!

      Mike does still have the overwhelming expert vote, but that may change as the younger generation becomes the experts and statisticians become more and more dependent on stats that weren’t kept in the 80s and 90s.

      • boyer Says:

        That’s what boils down to mostly. Most of the people commenting or in the media grew up in Jordan’s age or bird/magic. That time is known as the golden age of the nba, so huge bias there. As Erik mentions listening to the real experts talk about past great players, that is valid. However, he forgets that many of these past players have said Kobe is right there with Jordan, and some have said he’s better than Jordan in some aspects.

        Everyone’s entitled to their own opinions. However, if the media coverage was was pro Kobe and anit Jordan instead of how it actually is, then people’s opinions would on average be much different.

  3. Kobe Bryant vs. Michael Jordan – A Statistical Comparison (Pace Adjusted) « Double Dribble Says:

    […] reading the comments on my “Yikes, here comes Kobe after the best ever title” (Jordan should have a giant […]

  4. Kobe Bryant vs. Michael Jordan – A Statistical Comparison (Pace Adjusted) | Double Dribble Says:

    […] reading the comments on my “Yikes, here comes Kobe after the best ever title” (Jordan should have a giant […]

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