The biggest reason probably is that there exists a player who is just better in every category: Michael Jordan.
I mean.. Kobe really does nothing better than Jordan. So why would he be the GOAT if there’s someone strictly superior to him?
We can also break down a bit more in detail why he can’t be the GOAT
-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 (who grabbed 18 rebounds) and Artest (who hit a clutch 3 pointer) 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.
Kobe’s All-Def selections have always been questionable. There’s lots of articles on this but I think what really stands out is Phil Jackson himself saying that Kobe didn’t deserve All-Def in his book The Last Season. That’s his own coach saying that!
Everyone thinks Kobe’s all time clutch right? Here’s his ‘clutch’ moments
He’s 7/28 in game winners and game tying shots in the playoffs. Sure, he has the most game winners in the regular season… but thing is regular season he’s able to get those because he shoots alot in the 4th quarter and he has so many close games, that’s why he’s able to have many buzzer beaters and game winners. But in the playoffs when the teams get better and defenses get righter, he can no longer do it. That’s why he only has 1 buzzer beater in the playoffs.
Here’s another interesting fact, there’s many players who had a better Finals than Kobe ever did. I’m not even going to list Jordan and Lebron’s Finals because they are clearly better than Kobe’s numbers, so lets take a look at some guys who nobody would ever even put in a top 5 discussion let alone the GOAT convo and compare:
Kobe – 2009 Finals – 32.4 PPG / 5.6 RPG / 7.4 APG / 43.0% FG% <- this is Kobe’s best Finals
Kevin Durant (2017 Finals): 35.2 PPG / 8.2 RPG / 5.4 APG / 55% FG%
Hakeem Olajuwon (1995 Finals): 32.8 PPG / 11.5 RPG / 5.5 APG / 48% FG%
Dwayne Wade (2006 Finals): 34.7 PPG / 7.8 RPG / 3.8 APG / 47% FG%
Giannis (2021 Finals): 35.2 PPG / 13.2 RPG / 5.0 APG / 62% FG%
Shaq (2000 Finals): 38.0 PPG / 16.7 RPG / 2.3 APG / 61% FG%
Dr J (1976 ABA Finals): 37.7 PPG / 14.2 RPG / 5.3 APG / 59% FG%
Jerry West (1969 Finals): 37.9 PPG / 4.7 RPG / 7.4 APG / 49% FG%
Rick Barry (1967 Finals): 40.8 PPG / 8.8 RPG / 3.3 APG / 40% FG%
^ none of these guys are considered top 5, let alone the GOAT
Kobe fans always have an excuse for him whenever he doesn’t do well
2000 Finals – injured
2004 Finals – off court drama, Pistons defense too good
2005 – injured
2006-2007 – team sucked
2008 – injured
2011 – injured
2012 – teammates declined
2013-2016 – injured
So half of Kobe’s career he was injured.. and he’s a candidate for the GOAT convo? Wow.
So I don’t see anything about Kobe’s resume that screams GOAT to me.. he started off as a bench player, he played second fiddle to Shaq (yes he did – don’t give me the ‘they were equal’ BS they were NOT equal) for 8 years, he failed to lead a team past the first round until he got Gasol, then that 3 year stretch 2008–2010 probably is his best argument but he lost one of those Finals and the other one went to a Game 7.. yikes. And then 2011 and afterwards is full of disappointments both on an individual level and a team level.
So yeah, how’s he the GOAT? there’s pretty much no argument for him being there.