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.