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
Yeah so now that Kobe’s retiring people are actually debating about whether Kobe, who led the Lakers only 11 out of his 18 years (the rest as a sidekick), and who wanted to be traded from the Lakers at one point, and who captained 4 out of the 6 worst Laker teams of all time, actually is the greatest Laker over Magic! unbelievable. Let me refute this one.
Magic is the greatest Laker of all time, period.
-People on the internet seem to argue that Kobe is the greatest Laker, even tho Magic is clearly the greatest Laker ever.
-Magic had 2 more MVPs, 1 more FMVP, shot 52%, while averaging 20/7/11. Kobe has only 1 MVP, 2 FMVP, shot 45% while averaging 25/5/5. The only thing Kobe is better at is volume shooting. Magic even has a higher FT % than Kobe, with 85%, and Kobe has 83%. This despite Magic being 6’9 and taller people having a harder time shooting FTs.
-Magic/Kareem brought the Lakers to 9 Finals while Kobe only brought the Lakers to 7 Finals. They both brought 5 rings to the Lakers, but Magic did them all while being the leader of his team, while Kobe was a sidekick for his first 3 rings. You would never start a team with Kobe over Magic. If you do, you don’t deserve to talk about basketball anymore.
-here are more arguments people make on the internet for Kobe: Magic played with a better team. Kobe didn’t so he’s better. This argument doesn’t make any sense. How does playing with a better team make someone less great? Maybe Magic was the reason why his teammates were better. Kobe on the other hand played with Shaq in his prime (Magic never played with prime Kareem), and having Gasol, Bynum and Lamar and Fisher those weren’t bad teammates either. He also played with Karl Malone and Gary Payton one year as well, as well as Nash and Howard one year. Kobe was the reason why the Shaqkobe Lakers couldn’t stay together and thats they couldn’t win any more championships. PLUS Magic had those MVPs during the 80s which validate his individual greatness. So this argument that having a better team DOESNT make that person any less great. Period.
-Another argument that Kobe fans make: Magic said that Kobe was the greatest Laker so he must be the greatest Laker. Umm, since when did someone’s opinion make it fact? This plus the fact that Magic and Jerry West are known to be humble unselfish players, unlike Kobe, so would they ever say themselves as the greatest Laker? No of course not, they want to help Kobe out, so they said. It would be rude to say themselves as the greatest, when a current Hall of Famer is playing for the franchise and needs to make the Lakers more money. So that argument is stupid as well. The irony is that when I point out that when Jason Kidd said that Lebron was underrated and better than Kobe, Kobe fans said that just because he said it doesn’t make it true. Talk about a double standard!
-Finally, how can Magic not be the greatest Laker when he’s ranked in the top 5 of most people’s greatest players lists. I’m not talking about current generation Laker fans who would probably rank Kobe right below Jordan, I’m talking about basketball experts who usually put Magic in the top 5 of all players along with Kareem, Russell, Wilt, Bird and Jordan in some order. Magic is always ranked in the top 5. Kobe however is usually ranked in the lower 5 of the top 10, almost always beneath Magic, so how can Kobe be the greatest Laker when Magic is the greater player?
Disclaimer: First off, non-basketball fans can ignore this post, because this is a nerdy b-ball post and stats are coming up.
Ok, so Kobe Bryant is one of the most well-known basketball players on the planet. He’s practically god in China, and many fans, particularly Lakers fans put Kobe as one of the top 5 players of all time, and some even consider Kobe to be the greatest Laker of all time, or on par with Michael Jordan.
Now, I’m a big LA Laker fan, but even then, I think Kobe is incredibly over-rated by the vast majority of the public (in fact he got voted in this year’s all-star game despite being injured). Why? Lets take a look at his stats and his overall resume:
Why is Kobe overrated? from Basketball-reference.com
-Regular season: He averages 25.5 points a game, 5.3 rebounds a game and 4.8 assists a game.
-Playoffs: He averages 25.6 points a game, 5.1 rebounds a game, and 4.7 assists a game.
-His field goal percentage for his whole career is a measly .454 (45%), and his three point percentage is .335 (33%). Those are not outstanding numbers for someone who is a top 5 player.
-His first three championships are because of Shaq, period. Shaq was just so dominant, that I think an average shooting guard could have won those three championships from 2000-2002 playing with Shaq. Remember Shaq was often double or triple teamed, giving a guard better looks.
-Kobe is a ball hog, period. The years he led in scoring (2006,2007) he also not coincidentally had a high number of field goal attempts as well. His career assists average is only 4.8, which is lower than Allen Iverson’s assists average (6.2), who most people consider selfish as well.
-Kobe is consistently not clutch, despite there being a popular misconception that he is. In fact he only shot .413 (41%) from the field during the 2004 playoffs, and .405 (40%) from the field against the celtics in 2008, the years that the Lakers lost the Finals.
Comparison with Michael Jordan
So, a lot of people want to compare Kobe to Michael Jordan. Ok, lets do that:
Career stats: 30.1 ppg/6.2 rpg/5.3 apg
Career stats: 25.5 ppg/5.3 rpg/4.8 apg
True FG%: .569 (56.9%)
True FG%: .555 (55.5%%)
6 Finals MVPs
2 Finals MVPs
10 Scoring titles
2 Scoring titles
1 Defensive Player Of The Year
0 Defensive Player Of The Year
…As you can see, Jordan beats Kobe at every category, despite playing less seasons. Also, Kobe’s first 3 championships was because of Shaq. Jordan’s 6 championships were all his. So, there’s no argument here. Jordan is better in every way.
Comparison with other Legends
The worst thing about Kobe is that he’s inefficient. Let’s compare him to some other legends:
Field Goal %
…So when we compare to other legends that are great shooters, Kobe actually has the worst field goal percentage, as well as coming up the lowest rebounds per game, and assists per game when compared to Oscar, Magic, LeBron, Bird, and Jerry West (in addition to Jordan).
Comparison with other shooting guards (who were former scoring leaders)
Field Goal %
Comparison with forwards (who were former scoring leaders)
Field Goal %
Kobe is not that great
So when people tell me they think Kobe is the greatest player, or a top 5 player, or greatest Laker, I’m like Are you kidding me??, Kobe is the result of great marketing, and he’s a top 10 player because of his competitiveness, but definitely not a top 5 player.
And when people say he’s the greatest Laker, I mean c’mon, if Magic Johnson shot the ball more, he would score way more than Kobe, since his field goal % is a full 7% higher than Kobe’s. Not to mention, Magic lead the Lakers to 9 NBA Finals, never caused any locker-room issues, and averaged more than twice as many assists, but anyways, you get my point. I’m not even gonna mention other Laker greats Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaq, Elgin Baylor, or Wilt Chamberlain because obviously their stats would blow Kobe’s out of the water.
So in conclusion, gimme a break; Kobe’s over-rated, he’s not as good as people think he is, and he’s not a top 5 player (Jordan, Russell, Kareem, Wilt and Magic are my picks). And definitely not the greatest Laker (Magic Johnson is).