Lakers-Celtics Game 3: Regardless of Series Outcome, Kobe Will Not Top Jordan

David DeRyderCorrespondent IJune 8, 2010

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 06:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts as he anwers questions from the media durinng the post game press conference after the Lakers lost 103-94 against the Boston Celtics in Game Two of the 2010 NBA Finals at Staples Center on June 6, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

A reoccurring theme for this year's NBA Finals is legacy. The outcome has the potential to dramatically alter the way many players are viewed for the rest of time. If Boston wins, the Big Three will cement themselves as one of the greatest cores ever assembled. Rajon Rondo will officially be apart of every "who's the best active point guard?" debate from here on out. On the other hand, if Los Angeles repeats as champions, Phil Jackson will be the first head coach to win eleven NBA titles. Pau Gasol should enjoy the title of best big man in the NBA (unless Dwight Howard develops some low post moves). However, the legacy most sports fans will be interested in is Kobe Bryant's.

After last year's ring, Kobe Bryant moved into the upper echelon of all time greats. If he captures title number five his stock will only go up. I can already see the potential problem of loss of perspective. I am certain there will be at least a few writers who will compare Kobe to Michael Jordan. Of that group, some will be foolish enough to believe Bryant is better than His Airness. The record needs to be set straight, barring Kobe putting up 70 points a night for the remainder of the series, a Laker win will not push him ahead of Jordan.

I was too young to remember most of Jordan's career. My only Jordan memories come after he returned from baseball. I rooted against him when he played Utah in the 1997 and 1998 Finals. I was only setting myself up for disappointment. His iconic Game 6 winner in 1998 ranks as one of the greatest moments in the history of sports. I was nine years old at the time, but I remember knowing the shot would go in before it left his hands. Michael Jordan did not lose big games at that stage in his career.

I'm not trying to diminish Kobe Bryant's career. In fact, I believe it should be celebrated. People who needlessly insist on comparing him to Jordan are cheating themselves out of enjoying one of the most compelling players the league has ever seen. Do I wish I could have followed Jordan's career since he was at North Carolina? Of course I do. But Kobe isn't a bad consolation prize.

Kobe Bryant is more than a great basketball player. His personality and choices can be dissected over and over again. Unlike Jordan, who seemed to always be able to channel his extreme competitiveness for the betterment of his teams, Kobe has at times has been detrimental to the Lakers. His feud with Shaq forced an entire fan base to pick sides between the two best players in the league at that time. His tendency to hog the ball alienated fans and teammates. It also lead to him scoring 81 points in a game.

At this stage in his career, Kobe is doing his best Jordan impersonation. He has perfected his jumper to compensate for a loss in athleticism. He dominates down the stretch and has a way of making impossible game winners. Yes, I am content with Kobe era.

We may never see another Michael Jordan, but that shouldn't take away from the accomplishments of current and future players. Trying to constantly compare every great basketball player to Jordan is unfair to them and disrespectful to Jordan.