In a recent poll of NBA players here’s the results
Wow! Kobe is in 3rd place! As the GOAT! And Allen iverson and Kevin Durant being on the list is a surprise to me. Keep in mind these are NBA players that did this survey. What the heck?
And not only that but the fans seem outraged that Kobe isnt in 2nd place over LeBron.
Wow look at that! How many fans are praising Kobe!! He must have the most die-hard fanbase ever.
But this seems at odds with ESPN and Sports nations own rankings..
Why is there such a big gap between where sports analysts rank Kobe and where casual fans and even NBA players rank Kobe?
I think there might be a few reasons why.
- Kobe was the best marketed athlete of his generation. He was advertised everywhere. He even came with his own buzzwords “cold blooded assassin” “killer instinct” and “mamba mentality” and even won an Oscar after his playing days! This kind of marketing is obviously going to influence a lot of casual NBA fans.
- Kobe won alot of rings and winning is the most important thing to casual NBA fans. Kobe has 5 rings. That’s more than most players. And casual fans don’t bother to think about the nuances of what kind teams he was on versus which other teams, only that he won.
- Kobe scored alot. Scoring is the most important stat to casual NBA fans. They don’t care about efficiency or advanced stats or defensive stats as much. Raw points is the boxscore that comes up the most often and that’s the one that most fans see. Kobe holds the second most points scored in a game at 81. That’s good enough for most fans.
- Kobe played for a large market team and played very flashy. I mean this is one reason why Duncan doesn’t get mentioned very much. Not very flashy, and played in a small market town, never drew attention to himself, despite his credentials being at least as good as Kobe’s.
- Kobe played in a different era. Sure LeBron and Kobe’s careers overlapped. But Kobe is seen as a “tougher” player than LeBron is and that’s due to the different eras. LeBron flops to get more points in the current era. That (fair or not) leads people to label Lebron as “weak”
- Kobe is seen as more clutch than Lebron. I say “seen as” because Kobe actually isn’t as clutch. He’s only 7/28 in last 24 seconds of 4th quarters (in postseason) and has no highlight clutch finals move like LeBron’s last second block on Andre Iguodala in closing seconds of 2016 finals. But nevertheless because of effective marketing many fans believe Kobe is money in the clutch.
- Kobe is seen as a harder worker and more “skilled’ than LeBron and I think this stems from the fact that he’s a guard and thus more relatable to most people than LeBron is, who is a 280lb freak of nature. Big men never really get their due. That is another reason why Duncan doesn’t get mentioned as often as Kobe and Jordan is seen as more skilled’ than Kareem or Wilt.
- Fans think Kobe was robbed of MVPs of course this isn’t true. Kobe wasnt on the MVP voting ballot in 2005 and was 4th place in 2006 but this doesn’t stop fans from thinking that there was a media conspiracy against him
- Kobe is the closest to Jordan in terms of skillset and play style. Of course this doesn’t mean he’s the second greatest by that definition but a lot of casual fans think that automatically makes Kobe second best.
Those are the main reasons I think why casual fans rank Kobe much higher than sports analysts do. As for NBA players ranking Kobe higher – most NBA players are actually not all that different from casual NBA fans who happened to be really good at basketball and get drafted. What’s more there’s an obviously a bias towards recent players – note the lack of Kareem (1% in the poll), Russell or Wilt. Iverson over Wilt or Russell is a travesty in any case but most NBA players are young and it shows. Many of then grew up idolizing Kobe which is why Kobe ranks highly for them too.
Kobe is like the JFK of basketball players. The average fan is always going to rank them higher than the experts do. Experts can open any stats book and see that LeBron destroys Kobe in any statistical matchup but what casual fans care about and what basketball analysts care about aren’t necessarily the same things – hence why Kobe is as high as #2 for so many people.