Three Championship Rings? Check
Reigning MVP? Check
81 points in a single game? Check
The most points ever scored in Madison Square Garden? Check
Gold Medal? Check
Ability to take over the game? Check
Best closer in basketball? Check
Are we still going to argue who is better, Kobe or LeBron? I mean come on now, look at this list, and this is just a short list of major accomplishments. We could do this all day.
This is not an article to state that LeBron is not a good player (although I'm sure some will take it as such). On the contrary, this article proves that LeBron is the second best player in the NBA. I mean he's got all the skills, talent, length, etc. LeBron was also a member of the Olympic team that got the gold medal. He can drive the lane, make the key shots, and will his team to victory.
But, when was the last time LeBron put up 81, or even 61 in Madison Square Garden. Hell, he even plays there more than Kobe!
If you watched the Laker game tonight, you saw something special, something that makes you stand up at the end and almost break into applause, before you realize that you're just watching your TV. It fills you with a certain excitement that can't be described. It makes you feel jubilant and happy.
And to think, that if you saw this from Kobe four years ago, many of you would have called him selfish and a ball hog. A terrible team player as Bill Walton puts it. A player who has not only no faith in his team, but also no respect. Yep, a lot of you would have felt that way.
Others of you would have said, "Ahhh it's just Kobe being Kobe." Kobe puts up 61 at the home of the Knicks. "Ehhh, whatever, he has to put up that many just to put the Lakers in contention." Yep, some of you would be thinking that just a mere four years ago as well.
Yet now, four years later and one finals appearance later. It's a joyous occasion. Unlike when he scored 81 and was blasted by the media for only having three assists in the game, now is reveled upon, treated as a god to the sport. And rightfully so, I mean the guy dropped 61 against the knickerbockers...ON THE ROAD!
Kobe Bryant is the greatest player in basketball. He's always the MVP, whether he lifts the trophy or not. And the only reason he didn't get a chance to lift it before was because there were far too many Bill Waltons out there, ignoring what was happening in the game and instead trying their best to tarnish any sense of teamwork that was present.
We could go in depth into the stats. Pour over triple doubles, double doubles, time played vs. points. We could talk about how LeBron throws powder in the air before the game and Kobe doesn't. We could compare a lot of things.
But, the next time you are sitting in front of your TV and a Laker game comes on, TIVO it. Then TIVO the next Cavaliers game. Compare them back to back. You'll see how much more fluid Kobe is. You'll see his ability to make the impossible shot. And you'll see his ability to control the game and his team.
The reason tonight was so special is because we haven't seen it since the rise of Bynum and the addition of Gasol. We have forgotten that this is what Kobe does when he is needed. He's like a light switch. When you need him to turn on and burn the competition, he's right there. Ready and willing to do just that. If you need him to pull the team along, he's ready to stand in front and heave with all his might.
Or, he can sit back and quietly put up 22 points with six boards and five assists.
You see, because Kobe Bryant is a great player, he's the greatest player, and there is no way that LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, or Paul Pierce can lay claim to that title. He makes the players around him better.
So, I want everyone to prepare themselves. With Bynum out, there is a lot of pressure on Bryant, and this isn't the last time we've seen a 60-plus game out of Kobe. There will be plenty more.
When it happens, don't follow Bill Walton into the abyss of stupid claims, pretending that you were the king of teamwork and sportsmanship. Don't say, "Kobe that ball hog" or "he isn't a team player." Instead call him by what he really is.
The best player in basketball.
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