Home > Sports, Uncategorized > Kobe Bryant, Is He The Best Ever or Just the Best We Have?

Kobe Bryant, Is He The Best Ever or Just the Best We Have?

Two Greats ... But Who Is The Greatest?

In winning it all this year, the Lakers did what looked improbable given their lackluster performance in the time leading up to the NBA Finals and the beating they received from the Boston Celtics before returning back to LA.  Leading the charge was Mr. Kobe Bryant who for many year has been in the in the conversation of who is the greatest player of all time.   What has kept Kobe from the top spot, it seems, was his lack of NBA Finals hardware to prove him muster and moreover the shadow of Shaquille O’niel: the Finals MVP for Kobe’s first three title conquests.

Mr. Bryant has now won two titles on his own and two MVP awards to go with it – one against a clearly weaker and inexperienced opponent: the Orlando Magic, and another in a series against the Boston Celtics where statistically he did not give his best performance, 29.2 PPG.  This being said, he is currently the proud owner of literally a handful of rings (one for each finger) – and as he so noted, “one more than Shaq”.  Still, as immense as Mr. Oniel’s shadow is, there is a larger player’s shadow which lurks in basketball – it overspreads all that came before, during and after he played – that is Michael Jordan.

One for each Finger!

The hurdle that Kobe has to jump to surpass Mr. Jordan is a monumental one, because his predecessor defined greatness not simply in terms of winning but in terms of the raw passion that he had for the game, that one could feel pouring from his heart every night he touched the ball.  Michael Jordan didn’t just play basketball – he bled it and wanted us all to bleed along with him regardless of our team affiliation through every difficult game, improbable end or unbelievable shot.

Kobe, sadly, never has been able to convey this universal charm and most non-Laker fans do not like him.  This could be for a few reasons.  Some think he is arrogant, other think he is cocky: as if he is self-aware of his greatness and doesn’t do much to hide it.  Only Muhammad Ali was creative enough to know how to turn such hubris into a positive for himself.

Sports fans love a great athlete, but not as much as they love a humble one who looks just as surprised and enthralled when he makes a clutch shot, as the people at home and in the stands.  In order for Kobe to be considered the greatest he must somehow relay this in his play.  People need to care about him and love him.  Greatness is funny in that for it to be achieved it doesn’t just require statistical prowess, but an ability to show that you are sweating out there to make it all happen.  Greatness is built by the record books as well as in the psyche of the spectators.  Look at tennis great Roger Federer, an athlete who only truly solidified his, “Greatest Of All Time” status over Pete Sampras in most tennis fans’ minds, not after breaking his predecessors’ records, but when he got his own personal Andre Agassi in Rafael Nadal, who came along and gave him a challenge – made him look human.

For Mr. Bryant, being the greatest ever may not be the main objective- he would probably much rather be the best that Kobe Bryant can be.  Yet, I doubt that anyone who goes into a sport, or really any sort of competitive activity, doesn’t have that desire to better their predecessors.

Going For the Top

Michael Jordan left a large legacy, but is it impossible to overcome?  Federer did so with Sampras as we see, Tiger Woods most likely will do so with Nicklaus (if he hasn’t already).  But it will take more than just winning to solidify this notion with the fans and Kobe unfortunately may not ever achieve it based solely on his perceived arrogance.  Still, as he gets older and the shots get harder, and the competition stiffens, and he is perhaps more humbled by this but still able to perform miracles on the court, his journey to the top might become a reality.  It may or may not happen.  Who truly knows?  I can only imagine that it will be probably be a great ride.


Categories: Sports, Uncategorized
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