Although ranking the all-time NBA greats is highly debatable, most analysts today feel that Michael Jordan is the greatest player in the history of the league.
This is a sentiment that I also believe in.
So why do most people feel this way?
Examining Jordan’s career and accomplishments brings to light why he is generally considered the greatest.
For instance, when most people think of Jordan, they think of amazing athleticism, his dominating scoring ability, clutch playmaking, and his multiple NBA championships.
And all of this is true. His athleticism was important, as it enhanced his overall basketball skills, and led to the rising popularity of the game internationally (not to mention, it helped sell out arenas).
Jordan’s stock rose significantly when he won three more championships after his initial three-peat from 1991-1993.
In addition to having a great all-around offensive game (rebounds, passing and shooting percentages), Jordan excelled on defense too. Over his career, he was selected to nine All-Defensive teams (all first-team honors) and won the Defensive Player of the Year Award.
Thus, in analyzing Jordan’s career, one gets the blueprint I use in evaluating NBA legends and determining where they rank compared to each other. The areas I look at are the following abilities: scoring, shooting, rebounding (per position), passing/play-making (per position), defense, athleticism, clutch, leadership and winning while playing a leading role.
Perhaps no player in NBA history has been compared more frequently to Michael Jordan than Kobe Bryant. It’s true that there are many similarities between the two: their height and size, their athletic ability, their low vocal tones, all-around abilities, the ability to win, and dominant post-up and mid-range games.
I have already written about why Kobe Bryant (especially when using the criteria listed above) is already one of the top five players of all time.
As one of three players to have at least 10 selections each to the All-NBA and All-Defensive teams, and one of four players to have won at least five championships and two Finals MVP Awards, Kobe is already in some exclusive territory.
While I feel it is unlikely that Kobe will ever surpass Jordan’s legacy, I do believe he has a legitimate shot at becoming the second-greatest player in NBA history.
In order for this to happen, Bryant obviously has to surpass other legends.
This article will compare past and present NBA legends to Kobe Bryant based on the criteria I discussed earlier in evaluating Jordan. Kobe’s career and abilities will be assessed according to these legends, with explanations of whether he has surpassed them already or if he can leap past them before his career is over.
If Kobe can top all of the legends that are discussed, then he will by default be the second-greatest player.
As always, I welcome any feedback and comments you are willing to share.