Kobe Bryant: The Most Overrated Athlete in Sports History?

Brian HutchisonCorrespondent IDecember 12, 2008

For someone whose name comes up in such discussions like "Who is the best player ever?" and "Who will be the next Michael Jordan?" Kobe Bryant still has a long way to go.

Sure, I'll admit Bryant has been a prolific scorer throughout his career, but he has shown me nothing that would have me compare him to Michael Jordan. 

Let's take a look back to the year 2000, the year L.A. won its first championship with Bryant. During the regular season, Bryant averaged almost 29 points and five assists per game. How did these stats translate over to the NBA Finals? They lowered to 15 points and four assists per game.

Shaquille O'Neal, on the other hand, raised his scoring average, from 28 in the regular season to 38 in the finals. 

In 2001, the Lakers once again won the NBA Finals. Any thanks to Kobe? Sure, but his scoring average dropped in the clutch once again, forcing O'Neal to step up and raise his scoring, from 27 per game in the regular season to 33 in the finals.

The Lakers achieved a "three-peat" in 2002, winning their third straight NBA championship. Let's look how Bryant deemed "The Next MJ" stepped up his game to lead his team to the title.

Oh wait, we can't. For the third straight time, Kobe's scoring and assists declined in the series. Bryant once again hopped on O'Neal's humongous shoulders and rode him through the finals. And O'Neal, not Bryant, won the NBA Finals MVP award. 

Kobe Bryant has never shown any signs of being a team leader. Nor a team winner. When Jordan led his team to six NBA titles; he wasn't the second option. He took over the game and demanded the ball in clutch situations. Bryant simply passed the ball underneath to O'Neal and watched him manhandle anyone who got in his way.

Without O'Neal, Bryant would have no rings. Plenty of scoring titles, but no rings. He wouldn't be considered one of the best players ever. And people would laugh in your face if you said he might be the next Michael Jordan.

If Bryant couldn't even be the best player on his team during his championship runs, then how can anyone say he is the best ever?