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Kobe Bryant: If Lakers Don't Win a Championship, How Does It Affect His Legacy?

Pat MixonSenior Analyst IApril 28, 2011

Kobe Bryant: If Lakers Don't Win a Championship, How Does It Affect His Legacy?

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    The Los Angeles Lakers looked like anything but the defending NBA champs both at the start of these playoffs and at many points during this past regular season, until Kobe Bryant rose from the ashes and off his injured ankle to throw down two mesmerizing dunks in Game 5 versus the New Orleans Hornets.

    And while I never count out Kobe, and he hopefully has reminded everyone that neither should you, there are still the doubters and haters who feel Kobe is done. Stick a fork in him and his Lakers.

    These doom and gloomers, as I call them, most favorite dig is that if Kobe doesn’t win another ring this season, his legacy will forever be tarnished. 

    Here are the main shots fired on this subject and we’ll take them head on to determine fact or fiction.

    So how will not three-peating affect Kobe’s legacy?

Story Line 1: Kobe’s Not the Greatest Laker, Magic Johnson Is

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    Doom and Gloomers Points:

    First of all, Kobe not getting his sixth NBA title will keep him tied with former Lakers great and Hall of Famer Magic Johnson at five rings apiece.

    And there are many who believe that Magic is still the greatest Laker of all-time. But if Kobe can win another title this year, he edges ahead of the Magic Man, just barely.

    I’m still not sure if Kobe surpasses Magic with a sixth ring, but it does add to the conversation. But not winning another title lessens Kobe’s case for being the greatest Laker.

    Story line Fact or Fiction:

    Fact: Kobe doesn’t need another title to prove his worth as the greatest Laker or at least tie Magic as the greatest Laker ever. Kobe’s resume speaks for itself.

    If Kobe never wins another ring, he’d be tied with Magic. And both players lost multiple times in the NBA Finals as well.

    They’re simply different players who both contributed to the greatness of the Lakers franchise. One was a prolific scorer (Bryant), the other was a once-in-a-lifetime 6’9" point guard (Johnson). Tie.

Story Line 2: Kobe Fails to Tie Michael Jordan

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    Doom and Gloomers Points:

    No matter what you think of Kobe, he is the best player to come in the post-Jordan era. And Kobe has always set his own personal bar at MJ’s level. That’s why people think Kobe is a cheap knock-off of the Chicago Bulls legend. They miss the point.

    Kobe puts MJ on that pedestal and then works toward being on that level. That’s called having a goal and striving for it. And there’s been no higher bar than MJ’s six rings.

    Kobe now has five, but the storyline goes that failing to win another ring and tying MJ will reduce Kobe’s case as one of the greatest of all-time and quite possibly put the futile and ridiculous comparisons to MJ to bed forever.

    Storyline Fact or Fiction:

    Fiction: Let’s end all the silly comparisons with MJ right now. Michael was and is the greatest.

    Kobe could surpass MJ in ring count, but it wouldn’t change anything. But Kobe is the best thing to come along since Michael and Kobe will rank as the second-best perimeter player of all-time.

    Kobe is his own player, from a different generation and era than MJ, so stop with the comparisons. Kobe’s ring count has nothing to do with comparisons to Jordan.

    Period. End of discussion.

Story Line 3: Kobe Doesn't Deliver a Three-Peat for Phil Jackson

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    Doom and Gloomers Points:

    Don’t kid yourself, some of the motivation beyond all the personal goals for Kobe is to win a three-peat for Phil Jackson.

    But it has less to do with giving a going away a gift to PJ and more to do with Kobe not matching MJ and Shaquille O’Neal. That’s because Michael Jordan gave Jackson two three-peats. And Shaq (along with Kobe) did it once. 

    Story line Fact or Fiction:

    Fact: Kobe always seems to have an eye on both MJ and Shaq. Kobe wants to deliver another three-peat to Jackson and LA.

    But also, Kobe wants this because it will be solely on his shoulders. Winning a third title in a row cements his case as one of the best ever and he did it without Shaq this time. Massive.

Story Line 4: Lakers' and Kobe's Window Closing

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    Doom and Gloomers Points:

    If the Lakers can’t right their ship and get back into championship form, thus resulting in an early exit in this year’s playoffs, it will solidify everyone’s case that LA’s title window is closing and, more specifically, that Kobe is past his prime. 

    Story line Fact or Fiction:

    Fiction: The Lakers are built to contend for a few more years and that excludes Andrew Bynum’s continued growth as a center point of the Laker offense, and it doesn’t factor in a possible Dwight Howard to LA free agent happening next summer.

    The main thing is that all of this talk about Kobe failing and affecting his legacy will go away with a third-straight title this June. We all know this, but Kobe knows it the most. His will is legendary and he loves being considered an underdog. 

    So, I don’t count him out. Ever. Neither should you. It’s not over until it’s over and Kobe has more life left. 

     

     

    Who is Kobe Bryant? Want to learn the details of Kobe Bryant’s legendary work ethic? Or why Kobe considers himself a “talented overachiever” or an “outcast” for much of his life? Check out the new book, The Kobe Code: Eight Principles For Success- An Insider's Look into Kobe Bryant's Warrior Life & the Code He Lives By, at www.PatMixon.com.

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