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Does Kobe Bryant Need Another Title to Solidify His Legacy?

Samuel Bell JrSenior Analyst IJune 4, 2009

DENVER - MAY 29:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on against the Denver Nuggets in Game Six of the Western Conference Finals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Pepsi Center on May 29, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. 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 Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

To answer the above question in one word: No.

Okay three words: A resounding NO!

Now that I've said that, I can end this article now, but since so many people are on television and in print chastising Kobe for the split of he and Shaquille O'Neal's marriage and downplaying his accomplishments, I'll go to battle for him a little further.

Has one man had to endure so much obscurity and verbal carnage in a 12-year career? Has a superstar of Kobe's stature had to evade so many questions and comparisons to a guy above 100 percent of his competition?

No.

For all of the things thrown around like garbage on a windy day about him, Bryant has shown to have the skin of a whale shark while allowing his play to sing a song to all of his detractors.

Regardless how rhythmic that sound is composed, some still choose not to listen. They hear music not at all indicative of what Bryant is playing, and blame him for what they cannot hear.

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Instead of embracing the closest thing we've seen to Michael Jordan as he sprints through his Hall-of-Fame career, we've vilified him for his greatness.

Despite the fact that Bryant is easily the most visible and recognizable player in the NBA, he always makes himself available to the media and speaks eloquently as a tenured college professor.

Some people blame his mishap in Eagle, Colorado as why people are still harsh on Bryant. Others don't really have a logical explanation for their disdain for him other than saying an evasive statement like, "I just don't like him."

Analysts and writers continue to bash him for the split up with O'Neal, and blame him for not winning more titles with Shaq. Those same analysts and writers claim that Bryant needs to win the championship this season to cement his legacy.

Why?

If having more titles than over half of the NBA's top 50 players of all-time, passing Larry Bird and Elgin Baylor to name a few on the NBA all-time scoring list and playing in six NBA Finals series isn't enough, tean what is? Becoming president?

To even shout the claim that Kobe can't win a title without Shaq is just the last towel that Kobe haters have to throw in the legend's face.

Shaq won one title since departing from L.A, and Mr. "35 ppg" Dwyane Wade had a little something to do with that don't you think?

The easily-recognizable point here is that nobody can win a title alone. Not then, not now, and not ever.

If Jordan didn't have Scottie Pippen, he would've had considerable trouble winning any rings. Jordan has said that before, and would say it now.

LeBron James is getting a crash course on playing 1-on-5, and judging by his Cavaliers actually losing 5-of-6 to the Orlando Magic if not for his 1-in-every-10,000 fade away three, he needs that Pippen on his team.

So why are the standards different for Bryant?

Is it because he is so good that we feel that maybe, just maybe, Black Mamba could do it all by his lonesome? We aren't that foolish, are we?

Judging by the echoes of many bloggers and writers, we just might be that foolish.

Bryant is appearing for the second0consecutive season in the Finals, which is a feat within itself. Only two teams since Jordan's Bulls outside of the Lakers have made two consecutive Finals trips: the Detroit Pistons and New Jersey Nets.

Consider the fact that the Western Conference has emerged as the tougher of the two, and you can respect that stat even more.

Statistically, Bryant isn't far from Jordan as many naysayers would think. Here's a comparison of Jordan and Bryant's best three statistical seasons.

Michael Jordan's Best Three Seasons:

1986-87- 82 games, 48% FG, 18% 3 pt. FG, 86% FT, 5.2 RPG, 4.6 APG, 37.1 PPG

1987-88- 82 games, 54% FG, 13% 3 pt. FG, 84% FT, 5.5 RPG, 5.9 APG, 35.0 PPG

1988-89- 81 games, 54% FG, 28% 3 pt. FG, 85% FT, 8.0 RPG, 8.0 APG, 32.5 PPG

Kobe Bryant's Best Three Seasons:

2002-03- 82 games, 45% FG, 38% 3 pt. FG, 84% FT, 6.9 RPG, 5.9 APG, 30.0 PPG

2005-06- 80 games, 45% FG, 35% 3 pt. FG, 85% FT, 5.3 RPG, 4.5 APG, 35.4 PPG

2006-07- 77 games, 46% FG, 34% 3 pt. FG, 87% FT, 5.7 RPG, 5.4 APG, 31.6 PPG

Clearly, Bryant and Jordan have similar statistics, each showing that they can hurt you in all phases of the game.

Nevertheless, Bryant had to hear noise all around him about how he didn't get his teammates involved, shot too many shots and tried to do it alone.

In the immediate years after Shaq's departure, Bryant had no running mate. His best player was the inconsistent Lamar Odom, and Bryant felt he had to shoot more to make up for the lack of talent on the team.

Regardless of that fact, Bryant still averaged over five assists per game during those years. Of course, nobody talks about that.

After the Eagle fiasco, Bryant was turned into the nation's favorite athlete to hate. Jordan was alleged to have cheated on his wife countless times, leading up to their divorce. Whenever Jordan's name is mentioned, that's not on the docket.

Shaq made songs dissing Kobe. Bryant didn't respond to it like a man of class, and has continued to not fuel the many burning gasoline fires that spiral out of control every day from all possible directions.

As we get these 2008-09 NBA Finals between the Orlando Magic and Los Angeles Lakers started, it's time to celebrate our generations brightest NBA star.

Instead of spewing verbal discourse and venom toward Bryant's direction, maybe it's time to just shut up and let the man play. Let Jordan rest as the legend that he is, and respect the titles that Bryant already has and what he has done for the game.

Leave the comparisons to those who really know how to determine who's the best.

None of us.

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