The Debate That Shouldn’t Be (Written In May Of 2007)

Nolan HackContributor IJune 8, 2008

    Kobe Bryant is one of the finest athletes and ballplayers the NBA has ever seen.  As we stand in 2007 he is the best player in the NBA.  At the same time, with these basic and worthy accolades, that Kobe is rightfully getting, there are also the people (in many instances, Laker fans) who want to put Kobe on a pedestal where he does not belong.

    Mainly the Michael Jordan/Kobe comparison, that truthfully and logically should of died a long while ago.  If you look at the stats between the two players there should be no argument, it should be determined undeniably laughable.

    If you take a glance at the accomplishments and awards the two have garnered, the two don't belong in the same sentence, let alone the same paragraph.

    Other than from the Laker fan base, I'm not really sure why people try to make a comparison that has no logical base to stand on.

    Kobe isn't even the greatest Laker of all-time let alone the greatest basketball player of all-time, yet some ill-minded people try to make an argument for Kobe even though there isn't one.  It is like trying to make an argument for Tom Brady as greatest quarterback of all-time, when I hope it's pretty easy to figure out it's Joe Montana.  You look at the supposed comparison between the 2 quarterbacks there isn't one.  Brady has 3 rings and could get more before his time has passed, and yes that would be an incredible accomplishment and he will be a hall of famer undoubtedly, Terry Bradshaw helped the Pittsburgh Steelers to an unprecedented (at that time) 4 Super Bowls.  Though Dan Marino is 0-1 in the biggest of games and he is a much better football player and quarterback then Terry.

    Kobe won 3 NBA finals early in his career (including losing in the 2004 finals to the Detroit Pistons with the Lakers, Jordan's Bulls never lost a NBA finals), as the second best player on his team, MJ won 6 as the best player on the planet.  Now of course Kobe had a man named Shaquille O'Neal on those 3 Laker teams that won titles, but Shaq at that time was the better player.  Michael was the best player in the world for over a decade, if you want to make an estimate here, Kobe has been the best player on the planet for about a season or two.

    Since MJ retired (from the 1998 Chicago Bulls) you've had Shaq, Allen Iverson, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Tracy McGrady, all take turns as the NBA's best.  Kobe has not dominated throughout his career, even when Shaq was traded to the Miami Heat.  In the ugly Shaq-Kobe divorce, Kobe's Lakers failed to make the playoffs and Kobe was 2nd in scoring to Iverson by more then 3 points per game (as Iverson was also, 3rd in the league in assists, averaging almost 8 per game, Kobe averaged 6 per game that season [that was Kobe's highest assist total of his career, that was Kobe's only season with 6 assists per game or over, AI averaged 7.5 assists in his rookie season]).

    In fact speaking of AI, comparisons, and arguments, you can make the case that for a career Iverson is better than Kobe.  Even with the often bad Sixer teams that Allen played for, he still kept his assist totals exceptionally high for a guard who had to shoot the majority of the time.  While Kobe has kept his assists total exceptionally low for a guard who had the most imposing body in the history of the league in Shaq (and even still Iverson has a higher points per game average in his career than Bryant).

    Michael Jordan played in 6 NBA Finals and his Bulls won all of them, along with MJ winning all 6 Finals' MVPs vs. the Showtime Lakers (Magic Johnson averaged almost 22 points and 13 assists for the 1991 playoffs and dished out 20 assists in Game 5, the series clinching loss to the Bulls), the Blazers (with hall of famer Clyde Drexler), the Suns (hall of famer Charles Barkley [MVP that season], all-stars Kevin Johnson and Tom Chambers), the Sonics (soon to be hall of famer Gary Payton and all-star Shawn Kemp) and twice beat the Jazz (with future hall of famers Karl Malone [MVP in the 1996-97 season] and John Stockton).

    Now again if you want to look at the awards: MJ won 5 MVPs and Kobe still has zero (Shaq, Duncan, Iverson, and Garnett all have won an MVP).  MJ with the 1988 Defensive Player of the Year, Kobe still has never won one.  I could go on listing the hardware and such things, but it furthers my clueless rage toward this illogical argument of Kobe even being in Michael's realm of what should be unquestioned greatness.

    There have been a few circumstances where some people go to and the supposed argument pops up again, such as a few years back when Kobe had 9 straight games of 40 points or more and most recently this season where Kobe Bryant incredibly scored 50 or more in 4 straight games, and of course last season where he scored 81 points vs. the Toronto Raptors (MJ's highest single game total 69 points vs. the Cleveland Cavaliers in overtime, 61 is his highest in a regulation regular season game).  Well now certainly Nolan, with those developments and evidence you must surely say there is at least some kind of wiggle room now, right, I mean come on?!

    No, not really.  George Gervin and David Thompson scored 63 and 73 points respectively, ON THE SAME NIGHT.  David Robinson scored 71 points in a game and of course there is Wilt's 100.  Yet Gervin, Thompson, and Robinson aren't usually considered even as one of the top 10 all-time and Wilt is not better than Michael or even Oscar Robertson as a basketball player (speaking of scoring, Jordan holds the all-time regular season and playoff records for points per game, [in fact the Washington Wizards' Jordan averaged more at 40 years old, then Kobe did at 20 years old]).

    As great as some of Kobe's accomplishments are he doesn't come close to Michael Jordan.  I'm sorry some people feel this way trying to argue the obvious, I should say what should be the obvious.  It is like trying to argue the fact that Nicole Richie needs to eat something, and saying no, no she's fat, she's a whale, the women needs to go on a diet!  Simply trying to deny and argue the obvious.

    Now maybe it is the fact that, it's been a while since Jordan retired (the Bulls' Jordan) and some are trying to recreate Kobe into a mirage of something he clearly isn't.  Maybe it's because of the Los Angeles factor with the extra publicity and even sympathy for Kobe of all he has endured during his career trying to give him something he hasn't even close to earned.

    Kobe is now playing on a overall bad Laker team as a veteran in the association, but this Laker team he has now, which includes a 9-time NBA championship winning head coach in Phil Jackson, Michael had even a worse team when he joined the Bulls as a rookie (with notable teammates such as: Orlando Woolridge, Sidney Green, and Dave Corzine [and Jordan's 3 pre-Phil head coaches-Kevin Loughery: 5 winning season in 17 years as a NBA head coach, Stan Albeck: finished his career with 6 straight playoff losses and Doug Collins: who never won a playoff series without Jordan]), the Bulls made the playoffs that season as Jordan shot 51.5 % from the field as Kobe has never even eclipsed the 50% FG mark for a season even in his now 10th year in the league, yet as you just read Mr. Jordan did it as a ROOKIE.

    In MJ's 4th season, Michael's best scoring sidekick that season, was Sam Vincent who had a 13 points per game average, as MJ averaged 22 points higher then the great Sam, (cough, cough) Scottie Pippen was a rookie that season and didn't start once in the regular season as the Bulls got to the 2nd round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs losing to the "Bad Boys" AKA, the Detroit Pistons in 5 games, yet looking at that, Kobe has yet to win a playoff series as his team's best player (maybe we should be comparing Tracy McGrady and Kobe Bryant), even though Kobe has never been a part of a team as bad as any of Michael's first 4 Bulls teams.

    Kobe is now in his 3rd season without Shaq, his Lakers have missed the playoffs once (something MJ never did as a member of the Chicago Bulls) and made the playoffs the next 2 seasons, losing to the Phoenix Suns two straight years in the first round.  Compounded with that, Kobe's PLAYOFF performances barley fall in the realm of Reggie Miller, let alone falling ridiculously short of Michael Jeffery Jordan (Reggie once had 25 points in one quarter in a playoff game at Madison Square Garden, Kobe's career playoff average is under 24 per game).

    Kobe's highest scoring game in the playoffs was just last season.  It was a Game 6 in the first round vs. the Suns, where he scored 50 in overtime, in a loss, as a part of maybe the worst playoff collapse in Laker history.  As the Lakers blew a 3-1 series lead.

    In Game 2 of a 1986 1st round playoff series, in the toughest arena in the history of the NBA (Boston Garden, Celtics were 40-1 that season at home), MJ as a second year player scored 63 in double OT, also in a loss, against maybe the greatest basketball team of all time in the 85-86 Celtics (Boston had 4 hall of famers on the team: winner of his 3rd straight MVP that season; Larry Bird, Robert Parrish, Kevin McHale, and 6th man of the year that season; Bill Walton).

    As far as 50 point-playoff games Michael is in double-digits, while Kobe has only that one game.  Michael has the greatest game in the history of the NBA playoffs let alone the Finals (hell pick one, double nickel in Game 4 vs. the Suns, the 3-point coming out party MJ had in Game 1 vs. the Blazers, the push off, 6th ring clinching shot on Byron Russell in Game 6 vs. the Jazz in the '98 finals), the greatest shot in the history of basketball let alone the NBA playoffs ("Here's Jordan shot on Ehlo, BULLS WIN!, BULLS WIN!") and another of many playoff marvels; the most heroic performance in the history of the playoffs, LET ALONE IN THE FINALS, ("The Flu Game", Game 5, '97 Finals, hitting the game winning 3, and scoring 38).

    MJ's shot on Russell was his and the Bulls' last Finals appearance, Kobe's last appearance was a lot less in almost every since of the word, minus the fact Kobe shot the ball at will, taking more field goal attempts then anybody on his team let alone leading the series in shot attempts while shooting an abysmal 38%, yet Shaq led the series in scoring against the Pistons, where even before the season started, some heralded the Lakers as the Greatest team of all time.  While in the end, the Pistons shocked and dominated the Lakers, and won in 5 games.  As result, one of the biggest soap operas in sports history, was cancelled, as Game 5 of that series was Shaq's last game in a Laker uniform.

    With that said unless Kevin Garnett dawns a 21 Laker uni this fall, Kobe will never get to ring number 4 let alone ring number 6, with the Lakers.

    So people, I ask you to wake up and smell the logic, can we just look at facts and take them for what they are, this is not too much to ask, again unless you are a Laker fan, which many of whom still believe Kwame Brown has actual basketball talent, Luke Walton is more than just somebody's son, thought that passing on trades to get Baron Davis & Jason Kidd (separate trades in different years), and those who believed, passing on drafting Leonardo Barbosa were all good ideas.