Generally in life people will often have views that differ from those of the masses. Those views are often glared upon with disbelief and disdain, regardless of whatever logic and facts that is visibly present. For the majority of society it isn’t in their nature to accept opinions that are different from those that are already established. The sporting landscape is a perfect example of this practice.
The NBA landscape in particular is the worst to try and properly evaluate the abilities of players. For a team sport, a lot of credit is often placed upon one player in regards to a teams accomplishments.
This hasn’t always been the case for the NBA. During the first five decades individual talents were recognized, but not at the expense of down grading the abilities of that particular players teammates. Even in the case of pitting players against their opposition, rarely was a player placed above another because of his team’s success.
Not many were calling Jerry West a better player than Oscar Robinson because he was winning more games. Not many were calling Bill Russell a better player than Wilt Chamberlain for similar reasons.
As the sport progressed during the late '70s and early '80s and the league became more balanced in terms of the overall talent. The team argument was even scarcer.
When folks gave their opinions, regardless of how bias they were, it was almost always for the right reason. It was based on production and how well a guy fared when he went up against a player with equal talent and a team comparable to his. The greatness of a player was based on abilities and not popular opinion.
The "now" was always the deciding factor even though consistency was also important. Names weren’t made based off of some sport-personality trying to make a name for himself by pumping up the abilities of a particular player.
Basically, objectivity was the key. A player had to earn his status of being legendary. Fans understood this, and most importantly, the Media understood this simple notion.
There was a genuine respect and love for the game from fans as well as the media.
TIMES HAVE CHANGED FOR THE WORST
The days of objectivity and sensibility appear all but lost. No longer are people interested in the idea of accurately depicting these players we all root for. People are only interested in acting on their own self-serving agendas.
Ironically, the two proposed greatest wing-players of all-time might be indirectly responsible for this. When I say proposed, I’m speaking of popular opinion, and that popular opinion I speak of is “Michael Jordan” and “Kobe Bryant.”
With the creation of the Jordan brand, all concepts of teams winning titles and not individuals went out the window. This was sparked because Jordan excelled in the era of expansion. The talent level per teams greatly differed from that of the previous eras.
No longer did it take a team of three or four All-Star quality players to dominate the league. Teams now only needed one really great talent and an ensemble of really good role players to get a leg up on the rest of the league. With this came the idolizing of players and individualizing of teams.
Being that Jordan should bare the blame for this because he went out his way to individualize himself from his Chicago Bulls teammates, it only makes since that his carbon copy (Kobe Bryant) bare some of the burden also…though he hasn’t been as flamboyant as Jordan was.
Bryant was clearly focused on chasing stats before Phil Jackson came in and helped him understand that winning should be his main priority as a player. Kobe has admitted that he struggled with the concept early in his career. He just wanted to score, not because he was naturally a selfish or self-serving individual. But more because he thought scoring was the best way he could assure his team a win.
So hate them or love them. No one can question their intent; which was becoming the greatest ever.
The individual statistics put up by Jordan and Bryant are not what garnered them some of their unwarranted hype. It’s the manner in which they went about achieving their numbers. They employed methods of entertainment blended with dominance over opponents from a perimeter position. Their acts were not often associated with winners…let that resonate in your cranium for a minute.
Ready to continue??? Then let us.
Jordan and Kobe didn’t/ don't do much from an ability or production stand point that pass greats didn’t. Sure they have some statistical accomplishments that differ from others, but for the most part, their statistics are circumstantial and very comparable to other players if people really understood how numbers are attained based off of systems.
To put this in perspective. From a production stand point, Bryant’s best statistical performance was the 2005-2006. That season Kobe Bryant would record a usage percentage of 38.7 and average of 35 points per game. That along with his other statistical achievements that season lead to him recording the best PER of his career (28.0).
In his 14 year career, Bryant has only recorded a PER rating of 25 or higher on three occasion. In contrast, Dwyane Wade has already achieved such levels of efficiency on three occasions already [30.4/ 28.9/ 28.0] and it didn’t take him nine seasons like Kobe to learn how to do so.
The first argument Kobe fans will use is that the Triangle hinders statistics. To disclaim that, I reference Jordan and his seven full-seasons in the triangle. He achieved a PER greater than 27 in six of those seasons, and on three different occasions finished above 29.
The second argument will be that Shaquille O’Neal hampered his numbers. To disclaim that, I reference his six seasons without O’Neal in which he achieved two of his top four PER recordings.
So notice how standards and statistics differ to fit the arguments for certain players being greater than the next.
JORDAN AND BRYANT DON’T STANDOUT BECAUSE OF THEIR ABILITIES
Jordan and Bryant aren’t the two most complete players in NBA history. An argument can be made for Bryant being number two, but Larry Bird was a more complete player than either Jordan or Bryant. That isn’t to suggest who’s better of the three. Only to remind people that Bird possessed a more complete game than either Jordan or Kobe.
An argument can also be raised for Oscar Robertson, Magic Johnson, and Charles Barkley…yeah, good ol’ Chuck.
After all, we are talking about the overall completeness of a player’s individual basketball abilities.
We aren’t discussing who’s smarter or who’s better in the clutch. We aren’t talking about who’s the better leader and who’s the better teammate.
We are talking about solely what a player can and can’t do with a basketball because those other things are to broad and subjective to ever determine with any real accuracy. They only can be explained by bias opinions, regardless of how much objectivity is applied.
So what makes Jordan and Kobe standout above all others? The same thing that makes everything standout against something when the circumstances are to close to accurately chose one over the other with any real certainty; Attraction!
Jordan and Bryant are the two most attractive winners of all-time.
For those too dense too comprehend, I’m not talking about physical appearance. I’m speaking on how appealing their routine appeared. The way they went about achieving most of their statistics achievements was with a flash and flare that appealed to the eye because it seemed different than traditional methods. Some would call it their “swagger”.
In the sporting world, “different” garners attention. When that attention is followed by winning, you get instant legends. It doesn’t matter how many times they failed, only thing history permits us to remember are their successes.
So call them the best two if you like. But don’t base it on improvable ideas that they did things that weren’t, can’t, and won’t ever be duplicated by anyone but them.
LeBron James is already positioning himself to have just as much a celebrated journey as Kobe or Jordan. Then again, the Media is already trying to make sure that his achievements bare an asterisk next to them.
Durant will probably finish with greater statistics than Kobe but it's hard to say if he'll ever win a title playing in the same era as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul and plenty other young and talented players.
THE BIG CULPRIT
Jordan and Bryant aren’t entirely to blame for the lost of objectivity and logical thinking in sports. After all, they don’t demand people view them as they do. All they did/ do was display the abilities that they worked incredibly hard to attain. So let's give credit where it is due.
The true villain in all this is the Modern Media. Instead of maintaining a stance of sticking to the facts. Sports-analyst have steered away from colorful-commentary to bias-opinions.
It would be perfectly fine if these biases were based on some semblance of logic and reason. But that isn’t the case. Media personalities and sporting-analyst are just looking for sound bites and grabbing headlines. They don’t care if their statements are irrational, illogical and ill-advised. They just want to be popular because popular generates the money…period!
No longer are fans offered up factual reasoning on why a player does something better than the next.
No longer is a player allowed to be considered better than another that popular opinion says is better, regardless if the numbers suggest differently.
And to those who say the numbers aren’t important and don’t bare merit. Why even record them? Why even compare the numbers of Kobe and Jordan?
No answers? It's not so funny when your options of ignorance are taken away? It's not so funny when you are ignored for trying to argue your beliefs and opinions?
Well now you know how minority of NBA fans feel when trying to engage the masses in healthy topics of basketball.
THERE IS NO GOING BACK
The days of healthy debates and reasonable analysis are nearly over. We are living in an area of subjectivity. For those to ignorant to understand that statement. It simply means people are passing judgments based on individual personal impressions, and feelings rather than external facts.
In fairness, objectivity is still an opinion. However it draws on the principal that one acts without drawing on personal emotions or prejudice.
With that said, the reason for reporting and providing analysis isn’t to be subjective or objective. The ultimate goal is to bring forth the truth. Or at least that’s what it use to be?
Apparently some folks are more concerned with creating their own realities rather than sharing in the one of everyone else.
It’s up to you as a person to decide which side of the fence you’re going to stand.
But before I go, allow me too end this article with a quote by Helen Deutsch. Hopefully it will hit home with most of you.
“After all, the ultimate goal of all research is not objectivity, but truth.”