Kobe Bryant and Vince Carter: When You Don't Adapt
A decade ago, there were two young proven stars rising in the evolving world of the NBA.
Both considered prodigies of Michael Jordan, they rose among the elites of the NBA.
Two slashers that would forever change the game, and take athleticism to new heights.
I compare the two players, given the same talent, but completely different levels of determination and desire.
We'll see what hard work and a champion's heart gives you. Enjoy this heart-filled article, Vince and Kobe fans alike.
Vince Carter's arrival from Outer Space
One of those superstars came out of a successful college, UNC, and has followed the tradition of success.
Drafted with the fifth pick, by the Warriors, then later traded to Toronto for his college teammate, Antawn Jamison, Carter became an elite player immediately.
He led the Toronto Raptors to their first playoff berth. He amazed crowds with his mind-boggling dunks and leaping ability.
The amazing player won Rookie of the Year, and was considered the next Michael Jordan.
His offensive arsenal was already furnished, but his defense was considered raw and negative. His name is Vincent Lamar Carter.
Kobe Bryant's uprise from High School
One came out of Lower Merion High School. During the 1996 draft, it was all Allen Iverson.
Enter Kobe Bryant. The 17 year old out of Philadelphia was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets. Not realizing the larger-than-life potential this kid had, they traded him for a so-so center, Vlade Divac.
Kobe Bryant posted good numbers as a rookie off the bench. He later bloomed and became a significant star in the three Laker Championships he later earned.
His offense was already unstoppable. His defense was also spectacular. His name is Kobe Bean Bryant.
Accomplishments and Success: Kobe Bryant
Vince Carter's Accomplishments and Milestones:
8-Time All-Star appearances, All NBA 2nd Team once, All NBA 3rd Team once, 2000 Slam Dunk Champion, 1999 Rookie of the Year, Holds most 3-Point Field Goals made in a Playoff game (9), Career High is 51.
Kobe Bryant's Accomplishments and Milestones:
12-Time All Star appearances, 2 Time Scoring Champion, 1 Time MVP, 2 Time NBA Finals MVP, 3 Time All-Star MVP, 8-Time All Defensive 1st Team, 2-Time All Defensive 2nd Team, 1997 Slam Dunk Champion, 2nd Most Pts. in a Game (81), 5 NBA Championships, 7 NBA Finals appearances, 12th on All Time Scoring List.
Hands down Kobe Bryant wins this category.
Athleticism: Vince Carter
Both superstars were known for their amazing quickness, speed, agility, dexterity, and flight ability.
Kobe Bryant won the 1997 Slam Dunk Contest, and Vince Carter won the 2000 Slam Dunk Contest.
Forever, did Vince Carter take dunking into new heights. He revolutionized and ressurected the breathe taking dunks Jordan and Wilkins brought.
Don't get me wrong, Kobe is one of the greatest dunkers of all time, but his 1997 showing was a bit lackluster.
Vince in my mind is the greatest dunker of all time, along with Jordan and Wilkins.
Pure Shooting Stroke: Tie
Vince Carter's career 3-Point% is 37.5%, his FG% is 0.445%, and his FT% is 0.799%
Kobe Bryant's career 3-Point% is 34.0%, his FG% is 0.455%, and his FT% is .838%
Kobe Bryant holds the cake for FG% and FT%, and some may argue that his field goal % is higher because Kobe takes it to the hole more than Vince, but Kobe isn't a pure 3-Point shooter. Vince on the other hand, is.
Defense: Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant hands down. His defensive footwork and agility makes him one of the best lockdown perimeter defenders in the league.
Vince, however, isn't as consistent, and likes to play off his man. Players don't blow by Kobe. They just can't.
Getting to the Rim: Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant's numbers speak for itself. He takes it to the rim more than Vince.
Vince has always been criticized for being lazy, settling for threes more than driving the lane.
Kobe's higher durability and endurance aids his quickness and amazing footwork to the basket.
I am in no way criticizing Vince Carter, as he was THE nightmare for every forward and center in the league whenever he chose to drive the lane to create a poster.
He just never got to the rim as consistently and persistent as Bryant.
Expectations: Vince Carter
Vince Carter came out of the University of North Carolina. It was the same school that Michael Jordan attended. Everyone knows about the rich and successful tradition of UNC.
Critics expected Vince to be a superstar and get a ring. He was expected to be the heir to the throne of former Tar Heel Michael Jordan.
Kobe Bryant came out of a high school in Philadelphia. He was a youngin' with no superstar potential expected. Heck, they traded him for an everyday center.
My point is, Bryant lived up to every expectations not given to him. He wasn't expected to become the greatest player of his generation, a top-5 of all time, win five rings, and become a living legend.
Clutch Ability: Kobe Bryant
Vince Carter. He is second in game winning shots in the league, behind only Kobe Bryant.
However, clutch does not only mean game winning shots. It means clutch performances and much-needed shots.
It means rising from every challenge, with the weight of the whole world on your shoulders. It means succeeding when there is only a tiny glimpse of light left.
It means being victorious against all odds.
Kobe Bryant is clutch. His hate of losing fuels him to win. WIN, against all costs.
Kobe has a reputation of WINNING.
Heart and Determination: Kobe Bryant
This is what separates the men from the boys. Heart, Determination, and Willingness. Nobody wanted to win more than Michael. Now, Nobody wants to win more than Kobe.
That is why they win, their will to win. Against all odds, they will rise. Kobe's insane and vigorous work ethic has vastly improved his conditioning and performance. It has continued to make him better.
Vince on the other hand, relied solely on his god-given talent, and did not live up to full potential.
Kobe has adapted into a jump-shooter, and post-scorer, as age has robbed him of his quickness and athleticism.
Vince did not develop a post-game, and therefore he is stuck to jump shooting as his sole lethal threat on offense.
This is why Vince is in his worse years as a player. He has failed to adapt and improve his game drastically, like Bryant has.
People also criticize Vince of ditching games to treat minor injuries, and Kobe playing through major pains.
I could almost say that Vince Carter was always more talented than Kobe, but Kobe had the right mindset and hunger that made him the man he is today.
He practically oozes out his success. Vince Carter is what happens when you don't work and improve your talents. Allen Iverson is what happens.
When you do work hard, and continue to be determined to improve, Kobe Bryant is what happens. Thanks for the read.