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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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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.

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What is the biggest NBA myth?

  1. that Kobe Bryant was robbed of MVPs – I’ve already answered that here.
  2. that Jordan was ‘rusty’ in his 1995 comeback and that’s why he lost to the Orlando Magic

Let me explain the second one. Jordan fans like to imagine that he would win 8 straight championships in a row if he didn’t retire. For 1994 – I agree that with Jordan on the team, they probably would have beaten the Knicks and gone on to beat Hakeem’s Rockets (who only had one other all star in Otis Thorpe) that year and Jordan would have won his 4th NBA championship in 1994 instead of 1996.

However this doesn’t apply to 1995. Because we already know what happened in 1995. Jordan came back late in the season, and then played the entire playoffs and lost to Shaq/Penny’s Magic in 6 games. But Jordan was rusty right? he only played 17 games in the regular season!

Uhh.. nope. Jordan came back pretty much just as strong as he left it and the stats back this up.

In 1995, Jordan performed better in the playoffs than he did in 1996. Crazy right? But he won 72 games in 1996 and he lost to the Magic in 1995! How can that be?

Because Jordan fans don’t want to admit that basketball is a team game. its not based on one individual superstar, even though the NBA is marketed that way. The loss of Horace Grant (ironically, to the Magic) in 1995 left the Bulls without an interior presence to defend Shaq. Horace Grant wasn’t just a role player – he was an all star and the second best player on the team after Pippen in 1994.
In 1996, the Bulls acquired Dennis Rodman and they got the inside presence they needed to beat the Magic that year.

This is the concept that Jordan and Kobe fans don’t understand: it’s not about one individual player putting up massive scoring stats; the rest of your team has to be good as well. Rings are a team achievement and so is MVP in fact; MVPs are always given to the player on a top 3 seeded team (except for Westbrook because he averaged a triple double) so in fact even for MVP which is a so called individual award, having a good team still matters. That’s why Kobe was not robbed of MVP in 2005/2006 – his team wasn’t good enough and that matters in MVP voting.

That’s how Jordan put up better stats in 1995, and still lost. He definitely was not rusty.

 

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