Kobe’s legacy

There was a lot of talk and discussion during last weekend’s NBA all-star game about Kobe Bryant since it was his last all-star game in his final season. A very common question seemed to involve Bryant’s rank among the greats of the game. Is he the best ever, top 5, or top 10? How does he rank compared to say Jordan, Magic or Bird? These questions are what many NBA fans love to debate into wee hours of the night. As a fan of the league myself, I have a few takes about Kobe’s legacy.

First of all, everyone talks about how Bryant can go out and score 81 points in a game and end up being the 3rd leading scorer of all time in the NBA. There is no question that can fill up the nets with his sweet jump shot and dazzling moves to the hoop. But people often forget to talk about the fact that Kobe made the all NBA defensive first team 9 times in his career. How many of the greats in the game can say that they made the all-defensive team 9 times in their career in addition to being great scorers? Only a hand full. There are a lot of players throughout the course of history who could put up big numbers on the offensive end with lots of points or assists, but his ability to play and dominate at both ends of the court really separates him from many players.

There are very few players in the game who can match Kobe’s total resume and longevity as a player. The fact that he made the all-star game 18 straight times really stands out in my mind. Most players are lucky to being playing for half that many years, let alone playing at an all-star caliber level. His ability to be so dominate for so many years is something that speaks volumes of his greatness. When you talk about his resume, you also have to include those other things like 5 championships, MVP titles, scoring championships, all defensive team and so on. But his greatness for that many years really puts him in the greatest ever conversation. How many NBA players can say that they have played at an all-star level for 18 straight years?

The last thing that I need to add about Bryant is his work ethic and determination. He might be the hardest working basketball player ever to the play the game. If any young players wants to be inspired, all they have to do is look at Kobe and the number of hours that he put into his game. That is how you become a good player.

I know Bryant has had his critics and I have been an occasionally critic as well. His shot selection has been very questionable at many times during a game. His treatment and attitude towards some of this teammates really make you question whether he is a good teammate to play for.

I don’t know how you even begin to rate great NBA players and compare this player to this player. I don’t have a clue where Kobe ranks among the all-time greats. There are many intangibles that makes a player great that is often very hard to measure. I don’t know if Bryant necessarily made his teammates better like many great players have in the past. But the facts that I just listed definitely put him among the upper class of all time greats in the NBA. He will be missed after this season.

 

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The misfortunes of Tiger and Kobe

You might say that last Friday, April 12th, will be a day that both Kobe Bryant and Tiger Woods will want to forget as quickly as possible. Both of these high profile athletes probably had their worst nightmares come to true life in a matter of hours. It just goes to show you that even the great ones in any particular sport will sooner or later face adversity and how they respond will usually define their legacy.

I have never seen a golfer in any tournament get the kind of bad break that Woods got on the 15th hole. During his approach shot, Woods hit a nearly perfect shot onto a slanted green. The objective was to hit the ball towards the back of the green and spin the ball back towards the pin. Woods had the proper line and distance except there was a small obstacle in the way, the flag stick. The ball hit the flag stick on the way to the back of the green and promptly rolled off the green and into a creek located near the front edge of the green. Had the ball not hit the flag stick, it probably would have spun back to within a few feet of the cup and therefore giving Woods a great opportunity for a birdie on a par 5 hole. Instead, Woods was forced to drop his ball near the spot of his first shot and play the shot over with a one stroke penalty. His drop shot was perfect and landed close to the pin and Woods made a boogie 6. I believe Tiger could have probably hit a 100 balls from that same spot and not hit the pin. It was a terrible break and to add insult to injury, it was ruled later that Woods did not drop the ball in the proper place. He apparently dropped the ball a few yards back from where he was suppose to play his shot and according to the rules of golf, that is a no-no.

Although it seems like a rather silly rule, Tiger should have known about it. There is absolutely no excuse for any professional golfer not to know the rules of the game. They should know the rules inside and out especially concerning drops. That is a very common occurrence. I can remember a few years ago, Dustin Johnson got assessed a 2 stroke penalty for grounding his club into a trampled down area. Just days before, he received a memo explaining the rules of the course but obviously did not pay attention. It might have cost Johnson, thousands of dollars and a possible major championship.

The same can be said of Woods. The oversight of the rules along with a terrible, unlucky bounce cost him four strokes on the hole and probably will cost him the tournament. Imagine if he finishes three strokes behind the winners? If I were in his shoes, I would not be able to sleep for a week and have many nightmares about that incident.

The play that Kobe got injured on was just shear bad luck. If you ever watch him play, he is always making aggressive stop and start moves with the ball. The guy has the best footwork in the game. This time, the body finally caught up to him and he torn his Achilles tendon on a move to the basket.

The timing of the injury could not have been worse. The Lakers are fighting for a playoff spot and Bryant has been playing his rear end off during the last few weeks, trying everything in his power to put the Lakers in the post season. I am not really a Kobe fan but I admire his hard work and dedication to the game. He might be the hardest working player in the NBA and his work ethic is something that many younger players in the league should look at.

There was some talk after the injury that his career might be over. After all, Bryant is 34 but he has played in the league since he was 18. Along the way, Kobe has played in many playoff series so he might be considered an old 34. Those who say his career is over are totally full of it!! I would not be surprised if Bryant comes back better than ever for next season. His work ethic and determination will help him greatly in his rehab. I think the injury will give him another challenge to conquer and might be a blessing in disguise.

It seems like more athletes these days are suffering  serious injuries and it should really come as no secret. These guys need to take more time off from the game. Kobe has been logging heavy minutes this season after playing for the Olympic team last summer. A sport like basketball is hard on the body especially the joints. There is a great deal of pressure to do well and succeed but sometimes players need to dial back not only on their playing time but look at their off the court training. Kobe is a prime example of an athlete who probably pushed his body a bit too far. Just my opinion.

I am sure both of these great athletes will have brighter days ahead. I expect Tiger to bounce back and win a few more majors. Contrary to what people say, he has a lot of good golf left in his career and I believe he will break Nicklaus’s record for majors. The same can be said of Bryant. He still has about 5 good years left in him if he wants to continue playing. I am sure both of these guys will continue to have their ups and downs but both are tremendously tough minded athletes who will not let a bad day affect the rest of their careers. They will both bounce back.