Disclaimer: My answer is going piss off two of the biggest fanbases in basketball.
The most overrated player in NBA history is Kobe Bryant. The most overrated modern day player is Steph Curry. That’s right. I probably triggered someone already.
Let’s go over why these two are overrated:
–They have two of the biggest fanbases in basketball and thus the most casual fans. This is quite logical, because the more fans that a player has, the more likely that there is going to be a significant casual following. The most die hard basketball fans are only ever going to be a minority. Most basketball fans do not know or care about John Havlicek or Moses Malone – but they know about Kobe and Curry because these guys are the big names. The most heavily marketed. In every industry it’s almost certain that the most heavily marketed (i.e BTS for Kpop, Marvel movies for the film industry, Apple for the electronics industry etc) are also the most overrated by the nature of having a lot of casual, dedicated fans.
–Kobe and Curry are heavily marketed by the media. The more marketing a player has, the more casual fans it sucks in and thus you go to my first point. But you’ll notice that the media never posts anything negative about Kobe after his retirement and especially not after his unfortunate passing. Curry just never got any negative media coverage ever in his career. Based on the media posts on these two players, you would think that they never missed a shot and they always won and never lost in their life. Something common to both seems to be whenever their team wins, it’s always because of them. But whenever they lose, it’s always their teammate’s fault or injuries. Their fans will never ever blame them for any loss and excuse it on something else.
–Kobe and Curry have the two things that casual fans love the most: rings and scoring. Casual fans, due to their ignorance or refusal to care about context, only care about ONE award (rings) and ONE stat (points). That’s the two most important things to them. Kobe has 5 rings and he scored a lot of points. That’s the two most important things to casual fans, which is why Kobe ranks so high for them. Curry has the third most rings by any all time point guard – only behind Bob Cousy and Magic Johnson, but you add onto that his amazing shooting prowess and his scoring and there you have a player that many casual fans put in their top 10–15.
Keep in mind a lot of what winning is about is also due to luck. Kobe had the fortune to be traded to the Lakers on draft night (imagine if he played on the Hornets his whole career! He’d end up being a healthier Tmac or an improved Eddie Jones!). He also had the fortune to play with the most dominant player ever right from the beginning of his career. He also had the fortune to be coached by one of the GOAT coaches in Phil Jackson. He also had the fortune to have the biggest sized team in the league in the late 2000s with a trio (Odom/Gasol/Bynum) of great rebounders which gave him the green light to shoot without much fear of missed shots. The amount of talent those Lakers teams had – how many people know that Horace Grant and Mitch Richmond and Dennis Rodman played for those Lakers? Sure they were out of their primes but it just goes to show how deep those Lakers teams were.
Curry is the same, he was drafted by a great organization who drafted great talent in Draymond and Klay. Guys like Iggy and Livingston and Barbosa and Barnes were all very good role players so the organization behind him was great. He had a good coach in Mark Jackson and an all time great one in Steve Kerr.
Both Kobe and Curry played with amazing teams and sure every great player had great teams behind them to win, but I think sometimes fans stop acknowledging this and start putting all the credit to just the main players, and it misses a lot of context. Iverson, Tmac, CP3, Ewing, etc I mean look at all the great players in NBA history who didn’t win a ring and try a thought experiment and replace Kobe/Curry with these guys and keep the rest of the Lakers/Warriors teams the same. They’d still be pretty damn good. That’s how much those teammates and coaches matter.
Now lets go in why I think these two are overrated. Overrated by definition means that the player is ranked higher than they should logically be. Kobe, logically speaking, should be ranked in the top 15 – but he’s often ranked in the top 5 by a lot of casual fans. Curry, logically speaking, should be ranked in the top 30 – but he’s often ranked in the top 15 by a lot of casual fans. Out of the two, Kobe is the more overrated one by a long shot – Curry at least plays unselfishly and shoots really well – but let’s look at why they are overrated.
Why Kobe is overrated
Now all people remember are Kobe’s positive moments, his legendary moments. The 81 point game. Outscoring the Mavs in 3 quarters. Winning 5 rings. Having ‘Mamba Mentality’. The fierce competitive drive that he had.
Now Kobe is an all time great player, and those are some of the things that made him great, but we shouldn’t forget the guy had negative moments in his career too. ALOT of them. Let me list some of these:
-In the 2000 NBA Finals, Kobe only averaged 15 PPG on a horrible 37% shooting, and only had substantial contributions to one of them, Game 4. All people remember from this Finals is the Game 4 though with Kobe coming in clutch at the end after Shaq fouled out. However, they do not take into consideration his performance in the other games in the series, as he was either injured or underperforming. Jalen Rose outscored him by a whopping 8 PPG that series and more efficient by 10%.
-In the 2004 NBA Finals, Kobe averaged 22 PPG on 38% shooting for one of the worst Finals performances by an all time superstar. Sure, you can chuck it up to the Pistons defense, but Shaq was hitting 62% on his efficiency even on Ben Wallace – Kobe should have passed to Shaq more that game, and this Finals is one of the biggest upsets in NBA history. The Lakers choked, period. And Kobe was the main reason. They had the same core as their 2002 championship team, added Malone / Payton as free agents (didnt have to give up anything), and Tayshaun Prince clamped Kobe down – no double teams needed.
-In 2005, Kobe missed the playoffs right in the middle of his prime. This was after he chased Shaq out of town and had his rape trial, both stains on his career. Even if he was innocent in the rape trial, he was still cheating on his wife, and he got a standing ovation after the ordeal. Why?
-In 2006, Kobe was up 3–1 in the First Round versus Nash’s Suns (who Kobe fans always say ‘stole’ the MVP from him). Suns didn’t have Stoudemire that series and he had Lamar Odom on his team averaging 19/11/5 that series (Not just Smush and Kwame like Kobe fans like to say). Even Kwame and Luke Walton were both giving him 12/6 a night though which isn’t that bad. However, Kobe stopped shooting in the second half of the Game 7 to spite his coach, and the Lakers lost. Maybe this was a point Kobe was trying to prove about his ball hogging, but to do it in a Game 7? Kobe fans always blame his teammates for the Suns losses but the Lakers should have beat them in 2006 they had more size and just needed to win one more game.
-In 2007–2008, Kobe begged to be traded to other teams or until the Lakers got someone for him. This is in contrast to what people think of Kobe now, that he ‘bled purple and gold’. After the Lakers got Gasol, they went straight to the Finals. Shouldn’t that be telling? It’s not like Kobe improved his performance from 2007 to 2008 – but Kobe couldn’t get past the first round until he got Gasol. And Kobe fans all want to say that Gasol was the one who needed Kobe? The evidence says the opposite.
-In the 2010 NBA Finals, Kobe had a horrible Game 7 performance hitting 6 out of 24 on his shooting and needed Gasol and Artest to save the game. The Lakers barely beat an aging Celtics team with post surgery KG and Kendrick Perkins out for a game. This was the same team that Kobe fans like to point out Lebron lost against, except the Lakers barely won with a much superior team than Lebron’s.
-In the 2011 WC second round, Kobe’s defending champion Lakers get swept by the same ‘senior citizen’ Mavs that Kobe fans always chastise Lebron for losing against. Except Jason Terry did even better against Kobe. Lebron gets criticized all the time for Jason Terry ‘outplaying’ him. Well Jason Terry averaged 20 PPG on a ridiculous 75% TS% against Kobe’s Lakers! Whereas Terry had 18 PPG on 60% TS% against Bron’s Heat. Oh and JJ Barea did better against the Lakers too than the Heat. So if people want to make fun of Terry outplaying Lebron, then they should definitely be saying that Terry outplayed Kobe that series. Kobe averaged 23/3/3 on 44% shooting that playoffs. Devin Booker, Jayson Tatum, Trae Young and Donovan Mitchell all had better playoff series in 2021 than Kobe did in 2011. Kobe fans never want to admit this but they know it’s true.
-In 2013, Kobe’s superteam still with a productive Gasol, adding prime Dwight and aging Nash got bounced out of the first round. After Kobe tore his achilles, he received a massive contract from the Lakers that prevented the Lakers from signing any star free agents for the rest of his career.
-2014–2016 – Kobe had the worst years of his career with his efficiency, PER, win shares, stats everything dropping across the board, and the Lakers with an all time worst record. Oh yeah and that last game where he had 60 points? He had that on 50 shots – the MOST ever attempted in NBA history. You can check this stat if you want to see just how prolific of a shot chucker Kobe was. It’s not hard to see why Kobe has all those scoring achievements when you shoot the ball THIS many times.
Oh yeah, and the guy was a massive dick. There’s no justification for it. People want to say ‘Kobe toughened his teammates up!’ but you’d rather just play with Russell, Duncan, Lebron, Kareem, Magic, Bird etc you know guys who won AND weren’t assholes to their teammates. There’s no way Kobe would be able to get away with this if it wasn’t for the existence of Michael Jordan and Kobe’s 5 rings. Kobe’s 5 rings is basically a card that lets get away with almost anything. his fans can just say ‘but he has 5 rings!’ to any negative thing about Kobe.
^ even the Cavs knew back in 2007 that Lebron was better than Kobe, so they refused to do a straight up trade for him.
So these are all the negative aspects of Kobe’s career, and people just kind of sweep them under the rug and pretend they didn’t happen or make excuses for them like Kobe was injured or had drama or something, but then turn around and scrutinize every little detail of Lebron’s career. They say Lebron brought this upon himself because he’s in the GOAT convo, but then put Kobe in the GOAT convo as well without a fraction as much scrutiny on his career. This is why Kobe is the most overrated player ever. His fans just pretend his negatives never happened or make excuses for them, and extoll his scoring prowess as second to none, and put him in the GOAT convo without any merit.
Oh yeah – and Kobe isn’t that clutch either. He averages 40% shooting in the Finals, his record in elimination games is 8–11 scoring 22 PPG on 44% shooting, and he’s 7/28 in clutch playoff moments. In comparison, Lebron is 12–9 in elimination games, and averages 33 / 11 / 7 on 48% shooting. He’s never had a playoff moment even close to Lebron scoring last 29 out of 30 pts versus Detroit in 2007 or Lebron putting up a 45/12/5 stat line on the verge of elimination versus the Celtics in 2012 or that huge block on Iggy in the 2016 Finals or averaging a 30 point triple double in the Finals like Lebron did in 2017 Finals or having a 40 point game on a ridiculous 73% shooting like Lebron did in 2020 Finals. Oh yeah and Lebron averaged 38/8/8 in 2009 against the Magic including a buzzer beater and Kobe fans say Dwight Howard outplayed him? How? And yet everyone thinks he’s all time clutch, more so than Lebron, despite the stats and record.
Also Kobe is listed as an all time defender too, despite never shutting anyone down. Kobe’s off ball defense is nearly non existent, and his on ball defense is inconsistent. I’ve never seen so many contemporaries getting theirs on Kobe. Gilbert Arenas, Allan Houston and Jeremy Lin all hit their career highs on Kobe. Allen Iverson, Ray Allen, Tmac and Brandon Roy would routinely get 30+ points on Kobe. There’s an even a game where Steve Francis + Cuttino Mobley got 73 on Kobe. Bonzi Wells, older Penny Hardaway and older Latrell Sprewell would all do really well against Kobe too. Jason Terry got a record 9 3 pointers against him in 2011 too.
So Kobe is overrated on defense too, the All-Def selections he got were totally undeserved because he was always at the bottom of the league in DARPM. Artest and Ariza on his own team were better defenders and yet inexplicably Kobe got 1st team All-Def. What? lol
Why Curry is overrated
Now I’m not saying he’s not deserving of his accolades and respect, but a lot of modern fans have recency bias and are putting Curry as the #2 PG all time and a top 20 player all time. This may be jumping the gun a bit given his short career.
Here’s the problem with people putting him top 20 all time / #2 PG all time:
-He only has 7x all star appearances
-He only has 6x all nba 1st/2nd team selections
-NO Finals MVP. A bench player won the Finals MVP over him in his first Finals and KD won 2 over him. Curry was in his prime the whole time. I don’t want to hear any excuses.
-Got locked up by Matthew Delladova in the 2015 Finals – this is a huge reason why Lebron was able to take the Warriors to 6 games
-Shot only 40% in the 2016 Finals – thats *awful *given that Curry is billed as the ‘greatest shooter ever’ and made costly turnovers especially in the Game 7. He blew a 3–1 lead while having a 73 win team and being the ‘unanimous’ MVP. I don’t want to hear excuses like he was injured etc Isiah Thomas was injured in 1988 and still played great. and Kyrie shot the game winner right in his face.
-never led the league in assists despite him being officially labeled as a point guard. Which all time point guard never led the league in assists? I think I would have to go all the way down the list to .. Gary Payton and Walt Frazier to find some all time PGs who never led the league in assists. Magic, Oscar, Cousy, CP3, Kidd, Nash, Stockton, Isiah all led league in assists.
-a huge defensive liability – there’s a reason why offenses often had to exploit Curry and get him to switch on their main scorer to get buckets – because Klay, Iggy and Draymond were all such good defenders that offenses couldn’t do anything against them. They would try to get Curry on them instead so they could exploit his poor on ball defense.
-really what has he done without Klay? No seriously. With Klay out for only a single game in the 2019 Finals, he was unable to beat the 2019 Raptors with Kawhi and Lowry. Both of those players are ranked below Curry all time – Lowry far behind actually. In 2021, he couldn’t even make the playoffs without Klay. This is the #2 PG all time? In his prime?
Usually there’s a few arguments Curry fans always make for him being this high despite his short career:
*“But he has 3 rings and 2 MVPs”*
while impressive, that alone doesn’t mean automatic top 20 player. Mel Daniels also has 3 rings and 2 MVPs and I don’t think he’s ever mentioned in the greatest centers discussion (which he should be). Willis Reed has 2 rings, 1 MVP and 2 Finals MVPs and is not considered top 20 by anybody either. Curry’s rings in particular all have an asterisk – his first because he was facing an opponent who was badly undermanned (Kyrie and Love being out) and his second two when KD joined the team and had arguably the easiest path to 2 championships in NBA history. It was a joke. and KD became the best player on the team, not Steph. People give KD a hard time for his rings, but it’s *Steph *that should be getting a harder time, because KD outshined him in the playoffs. How can you say that KD doesn’t deserve his rings but Steph does when KD was the better player on the team? Doesn’t make sense.
*“But he’s the greatest shooter in NBA history”*
Since when did we care about shooting this much? I don’t hear anyone putting Ray Allen or Reggie Miller over Kobe Bryant or Allen Iverson even though Allen and Miller were *much *better shooters than those two. But now of all a sudden shooting makes you a top 20 player? lol. Artis Gilmore should be top 20 too, he has an MVP, ring, finals mvp, and the highest FG% AND TS% of all time. Mark Price, Louie Dampier, Peja Stojakovich, Drazen Petrovic, Pete Maravich, Craig Hodges etc all these guys should be ranked much higher because of their shooting. Stockton should be way better than Isiah cause he was a much better shooter.
*“But he changed/revolutionized the game!’*
Did he really though?
The 3PA has been going up steadily since the mid 2000s. The major factor in this is the hand checking rule changes implemented in the mid 2000s. Without hand checking perimeter guards now have it much easier and you can see 3P shots go up. Of course since 2014, the trend has been increasing but that’s not a revolution – that’s acceleration of an *existing *trend. Literally evolution, not revolution.
It would have happened regardless of whether Curry existed or not. The 2014 Spurs already were hitting a record number of 3s before the Warriors expanded upon it. Analysts were already discovering that the 3Pt shot was just a better shot, period. Curry was just the natural evolution from the line of great 3pt shooters starting from Louie Dampier in the ABA to Dale Ellis, Larry Bird, Dell Curry, Peja Stojakovich, Reggie Miller, Mark Price, Craig Hodges, Glen Rice, etc to Ray Allen and Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki to Klay and Curry. It was a natural evolution of shooters and Curry was just the first to make it his main scoring weapon rather than just being a specialist of sorts. It was never a period of there was nothing and then something the way you can say for George Mikan or Bill Russell. That’s why I can’t call it a revolution in any way.
It also should be noted that so far, we have not seen any non-Warriors teams win with the 3 point shot as their main weapon. Kawhi was a midrange player (2019 Raptors). Lebron/AD are midrange/interior players (2020 Lakers). Giannis is an interior player (2021 Bucks). We have not seen any other team duplicate the Warriors success. So much for changing the game. Steph Curry is a unicorn of a player who other teams cannot easily find. It’s really that simple. That’s why other teams cannot duplicate the Warriors success.
Curry also has the steepest decline of any superstar in the playoffs as seen from the video above which Ben Taylor (a sports journalist, statistician, watched almost every nba classic + modern game available) compiled.
So yeah I get that Curry is the greatest shooter ever, and he has all the 3P records, but to rank him this high already is premature. I have CP3 ranked ahead of Curry – yes even though he has no rings he has a longer career, more all star, more all nba, can play defense, led league in assists multiple times, can shoot almost as well and if CP3 had Curry’s teammates no doubt he would have won some rings and MVPs. He brought the 2020 OKC team to 7 games against the Harden/Westbrook Rockets. His supporting cast was barely better than the 2021 Warriors which Curry failed to make the playoffs with. He then took the 2021 Suns all the way to the Finals and went 6 games against an extremely dominant player (Giannis) – at 36 years old! I highly doubt Curry could do such a thing at 36 years old given that he couldn’t even make the playoffs in his absolute prime. Do people still think I’m crazy for suggesting that CP3 is better than Curry? And for people who keep saying CP3 choked etc – CP3 at 36 years old averaged 23/3/8 on 55% shooting while being guarded by Jrue Holiday one of the best guard defenders of his era. Curry meanwhile in his absolute prime averaged 23/5/4 on 40% shooting in the 2016 Finals guarded by Kyrie who is not that great of a defender.
I have Curry top 30 all time and KD is way ahead of him in my list in my top 20. I don’t think KD and Curry are particularly close as people think. KD is basically a 7 foot version of Curry, which means he’s almost strictly better. And of course, he obviously won 2 Finals MVPs OVER Curry when they were both in their prime and on the same team. So.. yeah that’s a pretty definitive argument on why KD is better. Oh yeah and KD had that monster 49 point triple double to will the Nets to 7 games against the Bucks with his two co-stars out injured. And would have beat them too if his foot was just a little bit behind the line. Curry would never be able to have that kind of game. Oh and the whole “Curry won without KD but KD never won without Curry” argument is a very simplified one that leaves out a lot of context. Fact of the matter is Curry had a better team at his disposal and KD did not. Curry had a deeper bench, a lot of great defenders around him, and a better coach than KD had. Still, that one ring he won without KD well if Kyrie and Love were not injured would he have that one ring? What if he didn’t have Iggy? Who knows. So theres a lot of context missing when people argue this might as well say Robert Horry is better than Hakeem cause Horry won 5 without Hakeem and Hakeem won 0 without Horry.
So there’s my arguments; Kobe and Curry are overrated. I know, I can already predict that some pissed off Kobe/Curry fans are going to comment with ‘you don’t know basketball! you’re a casual etc’ and I’m prepared for the insults. Here’s the thing you have to take into consideration though; I’m the one who wrote a 3,000 word answer to this question. You can look up all the stats and the footage and articles I presented. You know it’s not a lie. I backed up everything with evidence. A casual or someone who doesn’t know basketball will not take the time to do all this research; the fact that I did (because I watched hours and hours of footage of all these guys dating back to Bob Cousy and Bob Pettit) proves that I have passion for basketball and take a significant amount of time out of my day doing this research.