Whenever Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant is mentioned as one of the NBA's all-time great shooting guards, there is always someone there to remind you that regardless of how good Bryant is, he will never be better than another shooting guard who played for the Chicago Bulls.
Michael Jordan is regarded by most observers, including me, as the greatest shooting guard in the history of the game, and there are many people who consider His Airness to be the best player to ever grace an NBA court.
Bryant has drawn countless comparisons to Jordan through his mannerisms, style, game and accomplishments, and in truth, Bryant is the first player of many who has actually lived up to the comparisons.
It's impossible to follow in the footsteps of a talent like Jordan, but that was Bryant's task, and by all measures, he has created a brilliant legacy that stands completely apart from Jordan's.
But not in the eyes of many faithful Jordan fans who seem to think that Bryant's very existence is a blasphemy to the idol they all worship.
Lakers fans can be obnoxious when it comes to Bryant, but the rational ones understand that Bryant will never be regarded as a better player than Jordan, regardless of how many rings he wins.
But in most instances, Jordan's followers refuse to admit that the comparisons between Jordan and Bryant have any merits at all.
Some even go further by keeping alive an argument that has already been settled, which makes me wonder if members of the Jordan fan club are feeling a little threatened by Bryant's own growing legacy.
Jordan fans seem intent on trivializing everything Bryant has done in his career by saying that he will never be Jordan, and they are right. But Bryant doesn't have to over-take Jordan to leave his own mark on the game.
When Bryant retires, he will be the leading scorer in the history of what is arguably the NBAs greatest franchise, and he will likely reside with Jordan among the league's top five scorers of all time.
There is still a possibility that Bryant will win more rings, but five is certainly more than enough to hang a legacy on, and he still has an opportunity to add even more individual awards to the list he has accumulated throughout his career.
None of that can be used as evidence to prove that Bryant is or ever will be a greater player than Jordan, but it definitely proves that Bryant has crafted a career that stands on its own.
Most Lakers fans recognize and respect Jordan's talent and how his skill level helped revolutionize the game, and eventually, Jordan's fans may conquer their insecurities about Bryant and respect what he has brought to the game as well.
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