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Who would you say was the greatest NBA players of each decade for the past 40 years?

1950s:

Bob Pettit – George Mikan, Bob Cousy runner ups

Yeah I’m going with Pettit over Mikan and Cousy. The reasoning being: Mikan had no competition for his time and it was pre shot clock, pre goaltending era, he was playing in a baby version of the NBA basically. Cousy was a great player but he was overshadowed by his teammate Bill Russell.

Pettit – one of the most underrated players of all time – I feel that he is the best player of the 50s, he won 2 MVPs in the decade and was the only player to beat Russell’s Celtics in the Finals. He also would have *dominated* Mikan if he was playing at the same time. And was an alpha dog on the team unlike Cousy. He never averaged below 20 pts a game and he holds the third highest rebounding average all time. It’s definitely him.

1960s:

Bill Russell – Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West runner ups

The only other choice is Wilt Chamberlain here. Now I love Wilt but if I’m looking at the achievements only by this decade, Russell has to take it. He won every single ring of the decade except for one year. He led the league in defensive win shares almost every single year. You might say that Russell had a better team than Wilt most of the time – which was true – but Russell had intangibles that Wilt didn’t have. Wilt had all the tangibles – all the stats, athleticism etc – but there is the fact that Russell is 10–0 in Game 7s. It’s not like his team was that dominant that he demolished Wilt or West’s teams every year, there were many many times where Russell’s Celtics came close to elimination – and Russell pulled through almost every time – he was 17–2 in elimination games. Russell was the Jordan of centers. He had that killer instinct that no one else had. He was the leader of the most dominant dynasty in all of pro sports. I have to put him here.

1970s:

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – Julius Erving, Artis Gilmore runner ups

Kareem won 5 MVPs, 1 Ring, 1 Finals MVP in the decade and starred in Game of Death with Bruce Lee. How can you beat that resume? Really the 70s is generally the hardest decade to rank because of how divided the league was and how much parity it had. There was no clear superstar of the decade like there was for the 80s and 90s. That said – although Kareem had a tendency to get outrebounded and outworked on the glass by guys like Dave Cowens and Moses Malone and Bill Walton and old Wilt Chamberlain – he still outscored them all and was still a stellar defensive player no less. I’m taking Kareem.

1980s:

Magic Johnson – Larry Bird, Moses Malone runner ups

I’m taking Magic over Bird. He had 8 Finals appearances in the decade – that’s literally every year except for 1981 and 1986 – and won 5 of them. He beat Bird’s Celtics 2–1 in the Finals that decade. He also has 1 more Finals MVP than Bird. So yeah I’m going with probably my favorite player of all time – Magic.

1990s

Michael Jordan – Hakeem Olajuwon, Karl Malone runner ups

Do I really need to explain this one? 6 Finals, 6 rings, 6 Finals MVPs during this decade. Nuff said.

2000s:

Kobe Bryant – Tim Duncan, Shaq runner ups

Really Tong? I thought you hated Kobe, so why is he on here instead of Duncan? Let me explain. Yes I do think Kobe is overrated by the vast majority of fans but we’re talking about just the 2000s decade alone? Duncan’s dominance was spread out through 3 decades – which is incredible – while Kobe’s dominance was mostly focused in the 2000s. That’s the basic reason why I am picking Kobe here. If this was about who was the all time greater player – I’m taking Duncan – but here we’re talking strictly about the 2000s then I’m taking Kobe by a slim margin. Duncan was 3–0 in the Finals in the 2000s, had 2 MVPs and 2 Finals MVPs, but Kobe was 4–2 in the Finals in the 2000s, had 1 MVP and 1 Finals MVP. He had more Finals appearances and rings than Duncan, but less MVPs and Finals MVPs. It’s a very tough decision, but I gotta go with Kobe because having twice as many Finals appearances as Duncan in the same decade is not something to throw away – I value Finals appearances whether they end up winning or losing, which I will take into account for my next player here.

2010s:

Lebron James – Kevin Durant, Steph Curry runner ups

What else can I say here, this guy went to every single Finals of the decade except for 2010 and 2019. Unlike Magic, he did this with 2 different teams which is actually more impressive since usually it takes time to gel and build chemistry with a team, but Lebron is just amazing, he takes two completely different rosters and takes them to the Finals every single year. I don’t think there’s any other reasonable pick for this decade. I like Durant and Curry but they aren’t Lebron James.

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Sports

Was Kobe the greatest Laker?

It depends.

There are a few contenders for greatest Laker, most notably: Kobe, Magic, Kareem and West. I will compare different categories for these players.

Most games/seasons played as a Laker: Kobe

Most win shares: Kobe

Most championships as a Laker: tied between Kobe, Kareem, Magic and George Mikan (5)

Most championships taking into account executive leadership: West

Most Finals appearances as a Laker: Tied between Magic and West (9)

Most MVPs as a Laker: Tied between Magic and Kareem (3)

Most Finals MVPs as a Laker: Magic

Most total points scored as a Laker: Kobe

Highest PPG as a Laker: West

Highest RPG / total rebounds as a Laker: Kareem

Highest APG / total assists as a Laker: Magic

So I would say if you think the greatest player for a team is the player who played the longest and contributed the most win shares (I call this the Kyle Lowry/Buck Williams model since by this definition they are the greatest Raptors/Nets players) – then Kobe is the greatest Laker

If you think the greatest player for a team is the player who had the best peak and won the most awards/rings with the team (I call this the Bill Walton/Kawhi Leonard model since they stayed a very short time but won many awards with the Blazers/Raptors) – then Magic is the greatest Laker

If you think the greatest player for a team is the totality of their playing career + their executive career and their impact on franchise history – then Jerry West is the greatest Laker

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Sports

What is Kobe Bryant‘s place in basketball history?

Can’t believe Kobe has died, brain is still processing this.

As many people may know I wasn’t a Kobe fan and I considered him the most overrated player of all time.

That said Kobe was still one of the greatest players in NBA history, a top 10 player all time, the second greatest SG all time without a doubt.

Kobe has the unique status amongst basketball players of being much bigger than their sport. I think Tim Duncan is probably the most contrasting example with Kobe. Quiet dude, had just a great a basketball career/resume, yet Kobe is probably 10x as famous as Duncan. Kobe was like Michael Jackson, or his idol Michael Jordan, or Tiger Woods. Someone so famous that they transcended what they did.

Kobe was famous for his legendary work ethic, his dedication to his craft, and his “mamba mentality”. He inspired millions around the world in a way that few other basketball players could. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such an outpouring of grief for an athlete’s death in my lifetime. Shaq, Tmac and West all broke down crying on TV. Past legends like Kareem, Magic, Russell, Isiah, Dr J, Rick Barry all tweeted their condolences. Late night show hosts offered a tribute. Presidents Trump and Obama tweeted about it. Modern NBA greats like Lebron, CP3, Wade, Melo, KD, Curry, Iverson, Kawhi, Pierce, Kidd, Nash etc all had something to say about Kobe. It was unlike everything I had ever seen. Kobe touched almost everyone. That was his greatness.

Although I don’t rank Kobe as highly as others on my all time list, I cannot deny that Kobe was the second greatest ambassador for basketball in its history after his idol MJ, as he was probably the second most famous basketball player in the world.

RIP Kobe Bryant. You will be remembered as one of the all time greats, by anybody.