The NBA Views Kobe Bryant As an All-Time Great, So Why Can't You?

Hadarii JonesSenior Writer IMay 11, 2010

SALT LAKE CITY - MAY 10:  Kobe Bryant #8 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates against the Utah Jazz during Game Four of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2010 NBA Playoffs on May 10, 2010 at Energy Solutions Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. 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 Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers completed a four game sweep of the Utah Jazz on Monday night, and Kobe Bryant was able to achieve another little piece of history in the process.

Bryant became the first player to ever score 30 points in the first four games in a series against Utah, and even though this series was defined by the Lakers height advantage in the post, Bryant still managed to stamp his signature on the victory.

Pau Gasol will get much of the credit for this Lakers victory and his 23-point and 14 -rebound average throughout the course of the series validates this, but one would be remiss to overlook Bryant's play.

Bryant averaged 32 points against Utah while shooting 52 percent from the field, and anytime Utah threatened to make a run at the Lakers, there was Bryant hitting another of his patented daggers.

In the eyes of Utah point guard Deron Williams there is little secret as to why the Jazz failed to defeat the Lakers, and in his opinion Bryant was the main reason his team was swept from the playoffs.

After Game Four Williams said the Jazz were beaten by the NBA's best team, which just happens to have the league's best player in Bryant, and coach Jerry Sloan echoed those sentiments.

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Sloan repeatedly referred to Bryant as the best player on the planet, and considering all of the talent he has seen this year, and in years past you would have to say Sloan is a pretty good judge of that category.

In fact, Bryant is considered the NBA's top talent by most people associated with the league in terms of players and coaches who regularly compete against him.

Opposing players and coaches are a lot less likely to voice the same concerns about Bryant that are found on the lips of others when it comes to recognizing him as one of the NBA's all-time great players.

It has been said that Bryant is a poor teammate, he shoots the ball to much, and he is a poor facilitator among other things, but you will never hear this from a coach or player in the NBA.

These are views which are usually espoused by commentators, fans, or those who despise anything Los Angeles, and unbelievably the criticism has began to shape Bryant's legacy.

Most fans outside of Los Angeles already feel Bryant has been surpassed as a player by Cleveland's LeBron James, and while this may be true, Bryant doesn't seem ready to concede this honor just yet.

And he shouldn't, because if the postseason has shown us anything, then it's the fact Bryant is more concerned with crafting his legacy during the NBA playoffs, when it matters the most.

There were scores of observers who felt the Lakers would fail to reach the Western Conference finals this year, but that sentiment was formed more out of dislike for the Lakers than sound logic.

And it was another example of people taking for granted the drive, passion, and resolve which has defined Bryant's career, and has him on a path for a second consecutive championship.

This seems more possible than it did when the Lakers were embroiled in a tight series with the upstart Oklahoma City Thunder, and the Lakers' sweep of a 52-win Utah team should resonate around the league.

The Lakers may not win the championship this year, but Bryant has made it a foolish proposition to bet against them by becoming the most focused and dangerous player in the postseason.

Bryant was hobbled through this series and the playoffs, but he has found a way to eschew his injuries and concentrate on the task of securing his fifth championship.

For Bryant, that is the most important thing, because he has already ensured his impressive legacy is championship tested and proved, but sometimes the general public needs reminders that greatness is achieved through postseason success.

That's a little nugget of information that players and coaches around the NBA already understand, and maybe it's time for Bryant's numerous detractors to pay attention to what's happening right before their very eyes.

Despite all the criticism, Bryant has his team poised to accomplish what very few thought the Lakers could, and even though you may question his status as an all-time great, Bryant's career and the NBA has already validated it.

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