Kobe Bryant's storied career includes five NBA titles, two scoring titles, a league MVP award and lots of cool moves and shots. Indeed it has been a nice ride for the now 33-year-old veteran.
Bryant landed in Los Angeles with one of the two greatest franchises ever, and a city used to producing championship teams. As luck would have it, Shaquille O'Neal was in his dominating year in LA when Kobe was just a rookie. Shaq had been to, and lost in, the Finals before. He wanted a ring.
After four years of working together Shaq, Kobe and Co. were world champs.
Bryant was on top of the basketball world. From 2000 to 2002, the Lakers reigned. In 2009 and 2010 the Lakers made it back, without Shaq. This was Kobe's REALLY big time in the limelight. Giddy Lakers fans from across the globe were hailing KB as a potential GOAT (Greatest of All Time). Then 2011 happened, and the talk lessened and almost screeched to a halt.
In their excitement at the time, Lakers fans fronted on their own franchise and dismissed Kareem and Magic and West and others in favor of their new choice for greatest Lakers player ever.
Now, the talks are becoming more realistic as many are realizing that in order for a player to be the greatest to ever play, they would have to be the awesome from beginning to end and have almost no weaknesses.
It has to be this strict when deciding who is the greatest single player ever, because the NBA has had some absolutely awesome players. Here are the top 20 reasons why Bryant will never fit the description of GOAT, no how many titles the Lakers buy...I mean...win in the future.
The greatest player of all-time would make at least 50% of the shots he took—at least once—yet Bryant has never in 15 seasons shot above 46.9% from the field. Not once! And he will not start now. Last season, he shot 45.1% and his career average is at 45.4%. Sorry, but it is impossible to be GOAT if you missed 55% of the shots you took in your career. Give pro basketball some respect, people.
The greatest player ever would use the three-point shot sparingly because it is a bonus tool that should be used intelligently and in pressure situations. The game revolves around making baskets, and three-point legends shoot 40% from behind the arc, which won't win you games.
Kobe took 4185 three-pointers in his 15 seasons. The problem is, that is too many to take when you only make 33.9% of them. Kobe made 1418 three pointers, which means he missed 2767 three pointers in his career so far.
It seems that the person who qualifies for the title of GOAT would've taken back so many of those threes and gone for a more sure thing.
The GOAT, by being the best ever, would know that this is a five-man game, and incorporating the others on the team is vital for success. Kobe Bryant is a guard and over his career has averaged 4.7 assists per game for his career.
It makes sense that the greatest ever would find opportunities for everyone else, too. Bryant falls a little short here because from shooting 45% and having the ball so much, it seems he overlooked many passing opportunites that would have worked out better.
It only makes sense that the GOAT would have great ball-handling skills, to the point where he would not lose possessions often, whether it be from bad passes, stolen balls or being blocked.
Unfortunately, Bryant has turned the ball over multitudes of times in his career. When he was in his first few years and after Shaq was gone, Bryant seemed to have major issues with turnovers. As he got older he lost it less, but Bryant has turned the ball over 3228 times in his career.
Defense is probably the biggest area in which a person called GOAT would have to be amazing. Clearly, the greatest single player ever would be dominant at scoring AND defense. Throughout his career, Bryant was an adequate defender.
For his career he averaged 1.5 steals and 0.5 blocks per game. Good, but there were many other players way better at defense.
In the playoffs, the GOAT would get even better, but Kobe averaged 1.4 steals per game in his career in the playoffs. Did we ever actually see Bryant TAKE OVER a playoff game defensively? Not a hard question to answer if we ask the same question about many other defensive greats.
Forget the numbers, forget the stats and let us delve into how the Lakers of 2004 actually allowed themselves to lose the 2004 NBA finals against starless Detroit.
The easy answer is that none of the four big stars could ever be GOAT. The guy who is GOAT could not, would not, and should not ever go down like that in the Finals. The guy who would have stepped it up in that series and just took over would make a strong case for greatest ever, but it never happened and history was made.
Bryant has averaged 25.3 points per game on 45% shooting for his career so far. It will inevitably fall from here. The GOAT would be a better career shooter than that. After 15 seasons, Bryant is ranked No. 10 in points per game all-time behind Wade, Robertson, Pettit, Iverson, West, Baylor, James, Chamberlain and Jordan.
It's not like Shaq stole three Finals MVPs from anyone. The big guy totally earned them, but by definition, GREATEST EVER would never be outshone by anyone in the Finals. They'd have to be MVP every time. That is what GREATEST means and there is no way around it. If you are the geatest NO ONE is better and NO ONE can beat you.
To be GOAT a player doesn't have to go to college, but it helps. Why? When a player skips college and comes in at 18 they have no chance of producing on a level that the greatest ever would. By doing so, Bryant didn't even reach 20 points per game until his fourth season.
When considering the greatest player of all time, they simply would not average 7.6 points in any season or 15 points or 19 points. If a player did, they would not be GOAT because they had to become good in the pros. The GOAT would be a beast from the beginning to the end. Kobe got good but didn't start good.
In his first two seasons combined, Bryant started seven out of 150 games played. By definition, the GREATEST player ever would be a starter from the beginning because they are the greatest. Why would the greatest player ever play only 15 minutes a game?
The player might have been 18, but then they would have an excuse for not starting right? Nope. The GOAT wouldn't have to make an excuse for anything and he would never have to sit on the bench unless seriously injured, but Kobe was in good shape. No excuse.
The Lakers made it to the Finals without Shaq for the first time, and lost, by an all-time record 39 points in a closing finals game. If a team had the greatest player ever on their team, he would not let his team lose in the finals like that, but this team did lose on the biggest stage by 39, and Bryant was right there watching it happen. GOAT?
Magic is the epitome of the Lakers legacy in one of the two greatest franchises ever, and he wisely got everyone involved. It was a total team effort when the leader relied on passes to win it all, and pulled it off.
If a guy has an awesome season and their team wins at least 50 games they might earn NBA MVP honors. If they dominate in the NBA Finals and win a title they might be Finals MVP. In 15 seasons Bryant did win one NBA MVP, and in five title wins he is a two-time Finals MVP. It just seems that the GREATEST EVER would won way more in both areas, and there were many players who did.
Any need to explain why six-time champ Kareem is in KB's path to being considered GOAT?
Attitude is what every potential GOAT has. This guy may have had too much, too soon, and for no reason. Humility is not evident in Kobe and never really was. Have you ever seen a person complain so much on a court? Okay, I give you Rasheed Wallace.
He didn't jump high or run fast but Larry Bird had a way about playing the game that GOAT is all about. The naturally amazing shooting ability was personal and the team effort was second nature. We talk about the Lakers franchise being one of two best franchises ever. Bird was the best of the other one.
Will Bryant actually improve or stay out there and get worse? I'll just put it this way. We all get old, and in basketball that means worse. If LA wins any more rings, they'll have to bring in new all-stars to help. Does that seem fair? Buying titles?
He scored 100 points in a game by himself and averaged 50 in one season and has the second-highest scoring average ever. The Big Dipper was a defensive stopper and the definition of dominant. When he played for LA he wasn't as dominant but was the center that they needed to win that title—kind of like Shaq and Gasol and Bill Cartwright and Luc Longley. Oh wait, Cartwright and Longley sucked.
Did you see the Dallas/LA series in the NBA Playoffs 2011? Any GOAT sightings? Sweep? Yes.