Kobe Bryant: What More Can Kobe Do to Prove He Is a Top 5 All-Time Player?

Hadarii JonesSenior Writer ISeptember 17, 2011

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 20:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts in the first quarter while taking on the New Orleans Hornets in Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 20, 2011 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

I recently published an article which asked if Miami Heat stars Dwyane Wade and LeBron James could eventually pass Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant on the NBA's all-time player list, and the very first comment informed me that not only would it be easy to pass Bryant, but Kobe wasn't even a top-10 player in the first place.

In all honesty, we should be past the "top 10" debate because Bryant has amassed a set of career credentials that are strong enough to stand against any argument concerning his eligibility as a top-10 player.

Already Bryant is the leading scorer in the history of what is arguably the NBA's greatest franchise, and his name has been etched on every meaningful league award that can possibly be earned.

Additionally, Bryant has joined an elite club of players that include Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Bill Russell as the only upper-echelon players who managed to win five championships in their careers.

Those types of accolades almost guarantee Bryant a spot among the top-10 players in NBA history, and the fact that his career is not yet done means he does have a realistic shot of entering the conversation as one of the game's five greatest players.

I know this line of thought runs contrary to the opinion of Kobe's army of detractors, but seriously, what more does he have to do?

Bryant is currently the NBA's sixth most prolific scorer of all time, and unless the league folds in their current labor dispute, he is certainly sure to move up that fabled list once play resumes.

The Lakers' core group of players remains intact, and although they are aging and they were embarrassed by the Dallas Mavericks in the postseason, they are still one of the NBA's more talented teams.

Kobe and the Lakers must address a few critical needs to reach the NBA Finals again, but another two championships on Bryant's resume are not beyond the realm of possibility.

Unfortunately, I'm not sure if two more championships, 10,000 more career points and two more Finals MVP awards would be enough to sway the opinion of the anti-Kobe faction.

There are still those who will cling to the theory that Bryant played the role of side-kick during the first three championship runs of his career even though his 25 points per game average in the postseason suggests he was much more than an on-looker.

Ultimately, Bryant went on to have a more successful career than the now retired Shaquille O'Neal once their union was dissolved, but that is a rarely mentioned fact when discussing Bryant's legacy.

I'm not ready to include Kobe among the top five players in NBA history, which in my opinion, includes Jordan, Magic, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Russell, but he has certainly earned a place in the top 10.

There will always be people who will find fault in Bryant's game, but does the mundane criticism outweigh the success Kobe has found in his career?

Will NBA history remember Kobe as a player who shot 45 percent from the field for his career, or will he be remembered as one of the game's most decorated champions?

Come to think of it, Bryant's career numbers are already comparable to all of the players mentioned above in most historical measures, which suggests a place among the NBA's five greatest players of all time may be closer than you think.

The list of all-time great players will always be subjective since there is no true way to measure a legend, but based on the numbers and factors that do matter, I think Bryant is building a pretty good argument in is favor.