Kobe Bryant: Is He The Best Ever?

ctsports picksAnalyst IJune 15, 2009

ORLANDO, FL - JUNE 14:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers smiles during the post game news conference after the Lakers defeated the Orlando Magic 99-86 to win the NBA Championship in Game Five of the 2009 NBA Finals on June 14, 2009 at Amway Arena in Orlando, Florida.  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 Elsa/Getty Images)

I never thought I would be saying that Kobe Bryant might be the best ever. But you have to put Bryant in the conversation with the greats. What has Bryant not done that Magic Johnson or Michael Jordan did?? Has he not overcame every challenge and defense that anyone has placed upon him??

The Kobe haters had always said he could not win without Shaq. Well now he has won one in convincing fashion. If that is not enough, don't worry this Lakers team is very young and might win a few more. The great players don't settle for a championship, instead they strive to be the best ever.

When you compare Kobe's game to the best ever in Jordan, he stacks up very favorably. Let's look at the key parts of game and see:

Passing: Michael Jordan was one of the best set-up men of all time, but I would have to say Kobe is better. Lamar Odom said in a recent interview that Kobe could lead the league in assists if he played point guard as a pass-first option. That is pretty big praise coming from another peer.

Rebounding: Kobe has improved a ton in the rebounding category but is still not near the rebounder MJ was. Michael was a little better athlete and much stronger, which enabled him to dominate the glass at times.

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Shooting: Kobe is a very clear-cut winner over MJ in the shooting category. Michael improved as his career went along but really never was a consistent three-point shooter. Kobe is one of the best shooters in the league, and his three-point shot is dangerous as well.

Defense: Kobe's defense has been much better in the last few years but still is nowhere near MJ's. Michael's was one of the best shut-down defenders of all times. Kobe does not have the lateral quickness of MJ nor the passion to shut people down.

Leadership: Clearly, MJ wins this one. Kobe has recently learned how to become a leader but will have to continue to grow to be in MJ's company.

Game-winners: No one would have imagined that there would be another player that has the motivation or will to win games in the clutch. Kobe has become the "Best Closer in Basketball" but still is not in the conversation with MJ.

As you can see, Michael Jordan is still the best ever, but Kobe Bryant is closing in on him. If Kobe can lead the L.A. Lakers to two more championships, he could definitely pull closer to the best-ever player tag. But in the meantime, MJ is still safe at the top of the mountain.

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