I know, I know, this is blasphemy. How can Kobe Bryant be considered better than his Airness, Michael Jordan? Do you know what Mike did during his career? Did you see Michael drop 63 in the Boston Garden in '86? How about averaging 41 points per game in the NBA Finals against the Suns in '93? Or how about the other great players that have graced this league like Oscar Robertson, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or Larry Bird? While I do agree that all of these players are magnificent and some of the greatest to ever don a jersey and shorts, Kobe Bean Bryant is still the greatest 31 year old in NBA history. Don't believe me, let me show you why
What is the first thing that we as fans always look to first in describing a great player, or defending why our guy sits above anyone else: championships. It is the ultimate argument winner, and reasons why fans of guys like Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, and Patrick Ewing will never get their just do as far as the top guy at their positions. Sure, they are all Hall of Famer's with career achievements that can never be taken away, but a fan of Karl Malone will always be trumped by a Tim Duncan fan because of one (well actually four) reason, the titles. Kobe has four championships at this point in his career to Michael's three. Kobe has been to the NBA Finals 6 times in 13 seasons. Now I know the detractors will say that he never would have won at least 3 of those titles without Shaq, and to that I say how would MJ have 6 titles without Scottie Pippen. Kobe has reinvented himself as a player and a person, taking on a leadership role he did not have to have on those early Laker title teams, but make no mistake about it, there would be a couple less banners hanging in the Staples Center without number 8/24.
I know we all like to talk about MJ's will to win and passion for the game, but I can honestly say I have never seen a player want to win as bad as Kobe. He is the only player I have seen that literally looks as if he would have committed suicide if he did not win a title without Shaq. What's refreshing to me about Kobe is that every night he still plays as if he is a high schooler trying to be considered the best player in the country. The guy takes every challenge personally, whether it's another great player trying to steal the throne (i.e. LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, or going back in the day Tracy McGrady in the Orlando days) or the self regarded Kobe stopper Ruben Patterson. The guy adds something to his game every year, and just when you think that this is the year he may lose a step, he adds two or three more dimensions to his game so that he's even more dangerous to defend than what he had or may have lost from his arsenal. He has totally reinvented himself the way MJ did, but at this point he has not only copied the blueprint but tweaked it to make it MJ 2.0.
In closing, this article is not saying that Kobe is the greatest player ever, just that at this point in his career you would be hard pressed to find someone with a more impressive resume. 6 NBA Finals appearances, MVP of both the NBA regular season and NBA Finals, 3 All-Star game MVP's, 81 points in a game, youngest to 25,000 points and so on. Before ripping this article because of personal opinion, just take the time to look and enjoy, because we are watching history in the making.