Kobe Bryant has been a polarizing figure ever since he entered the NBA world, and people have been arguing his place in league history for quite some time. But still, his work so far in his career is amazing and is surely on the same level as the legends of the league.
Bryant is no doubt not as loved as Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson or as praised as Michael Jordan, but one thing is for sure, only one or two players in NBA history have a résumé that compares to Kobe’s.
Bryant just recently passed former teammate Shaquille O’Neal for fifth on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, just another accolade to add to his already astonishing career. However, people will always have something negative to say about Bryant and will find a way to put down his accomplishments.
As Rey Moralde wrote on The No Look Pass: “Obviously, it’s easy to compare him to Michael Jordan. But I feel like we will never, ever fully appreciate his career because of these never-ending comparisons. It’s always going to be like this:“Kobe Bryant did this… BUT Michael Jordan…”
No matter how amazing Kobe has been in his 16 seasons, there will always be those who claim that he has not done enough. If Kobe scores 50 points, there will be a comparison to Michael Jordan, if he records a triple-double he will be judged against Magic Johnson and if he hits a game winner, his numbers will be put up against the other players in the NBA.
For some reason, Bryant is always being compared to someone just so the notions that he is the best player in this generation and the closest thing to Michael Jordan will be erased. How about instead of seeing how Kobe matches up with the all-time greats, we look at how amazing his stats and achievements are? His body of work is nearly unprecedented, but we tend to overlook those feats.
Already in his 16th season, Bryant has won five NBA championships, two Finals MVPs, one regular season MVP, he is a 14-time NBA All-Star, nine time All-NBA and All-Defensive First team and now the fifth leading scorer in league history. As for Michael Jordan, he is third all-time, but Kobe is only 3,691 points away.
There is no doubt that Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest players to every lace up basketball shoes in NBA history, but is he getting the credit he deserves? Lakers fan clearly appreciate what he has done on the court, but those outside Lakers Nation have not been as quick to applaud him.
However, that debate has taken a back-seat and the focus now turns to the whether or not Kobe is the greatest Laker of all-time. In terms of league-wide appreciation, that nod goes to Magic Johnson, as for game-changing, that award should be shared by Magic and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar; but by looking at the raw numbers, Kobe far surpasses both of those players.
In fact, Bryant became the Lakers’ all-time leading scorer last season after already being the franchise leader in games, minutes played, field-goal attempts, three-point field goals and three-point field goal attempts. On top of that, Kobe became the franchise leader in most free throws and most field goals made this season.
Despite the numbers and the already amazing career, Kobe Bryant’s legacy is still not complete. Perhaps the reason why Kobe is always being compared to the NBA’s greats is because people expect more and want more out of him. Or perhaps is could be because some cannot accept the fact that Kobe Bryant is creeping up on Michael Jordan and his seemingly ‘untouchable’ career.
Still, one thing is certain and should never be put into question. There may never be a time where we will ever see a player who is as goal determined as Kobe Bryant. There may never be a player who can start a debate with Michael Jordan. So instead of criticizing him and trying to put-down his achievements by flooding him with comparisons, sit back and enjoy the show the Black Mamba has put together for the stage will not be lit forever. Eventually the time will come when Kobe will call it quits, so make sure you can get as much of number 24 as possible.