The Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant has already established himself as one of the top players in NBA history. That is not debatable. But what becomes very arguable is where on that list Kobe falls.
But unlike the players Kobe is compared against, he still has the opportunity to add to his legacy. He’s not done competing for championships and he’s not finished climbing up the scoring leaderboard.
This season is actually the one that is pivotal to Kobe adding and cementing his legacy. He’s racing legends and chasing the best.
Many already feel Kobe is one of the top two guards to ever lace them up.
In my mind, he’s still behind Michael Jordan, and probably always will be. But Kobe can keep expanding his resume, creating memorable arguments to that endless debate. He's still got more to give.
But this isn’t about Kobe versus MJ.
This is about Kobe building on his legacy. He is still in his prime, but now on the back side of his career. The window of opportunity for both him and his Lakers only narrows each season.
So here are the five reasons why winning a championship this year, more than ever, is pivotal to Kobe adding to his already lengthy legacy.
By leading LA to a title this year, Kobe will complete the 12 pack of rings for Lakers head coach Phil Jackson.
Another title this year is the Hollywood ending of the greatest coaching career in all of professional sports.
A last title this year would be a fourth three-peat for PJ. Amazing. He’d won two with MJ, one with Shaq and Kobe and one with the current Kobe and company.
That is the dream ending and raises the bar for Kobe to only add to his legacy by sending Jackson into the sunset a winner.
If the Lakers can win a title this year, the franchise will tie Boston with the most titles. That is huge.
One of the reasons I give Magic Johnson so much props in the debate as the greatest Laker is that Magic and his teams were able to accomplish in 1985 what no Lakers team had ever done before them: beat Boston.
And they did it in the old Boston Garden.
But Kobe being the LA player to tie Boston in franchise wins? That would be a huge addition to his legacy.
Kobe is already one up on his former teammate and rival.
But by winning a sixth title, Kobe puts the entire “can’t win without Shaq” thing behind him.
He already has, but another title this year gives Kobe three with Shaq and three without. That says a lot.
Right now, at least in my opinion, it is still debatable that Kobe is the best Laker in history.
I still lean toward Magic. He played in more NBA Finals, he was a more dominant winner over an entire decade and he was responsible (along with Larry Bird) for the rebirth of the NBA and ushering in this modern era.
Magic is still the best, to me.
But Kobe can end that debate by hoisting a sixth trophy. Period. End of discussion (Well, pretty much the end. I still love Magic).
While the debate will go on forever between who is better, Kobe or MJ, the simple fact is that Kobe adds to that discussion by tying MJ in total championships won.
If Kobe can’t get that sixth ring, then the debate ends right there.
If Kobe ties MJ, then he narrows the debate gap, at least a little more. And it sets up the potential for Kobe to surpass Jordan with a chance at a seventh ring.
This is why tying MJ is the No. 1 reason winning a title this year adds to Kobe's legacy.
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