Point-Counterpoint: This title puts Kobe Bryant among the best to ever play NBA basketball

June 17, 2009

The Best Since MJ Retired!!

The Best Since MJ Retired!!

 The writers of It’s Just Sports frequently disagree with each other. Sometimes these disagreements escalate to the point that we need a back and forth to settle our disputes in a little session we call Point-Counterpoint. It’s therapeutic. Pardeep Toor and Eric Woodyard debate the merits of Mr. Kobe Bryant this week.
*click on the pic to view this at It’s Just Sports. 

Since the dawn of time (or at least since 1996), man has asked the question, ‘What makes Kobe Bryant aka the Black Mamba so unstoppable?’ What makes his dunk so unstoppable? What makes his three-point so unstoppable? What makes his overall unstoppableness unstoppable?

This is Kobe Bryant! Need I say more? Nike did a great job at capturing the essence of the confidence and drive of this child prodigy turned NBA legend throughout their latest MVPuppets commercials.

He’s Tiger Woods on the hardwood, Marvin Gaye in La La Land, Ice Cube in a Lakers uni, Denzel Washington in Nike’s, Malcolm X in time-out huddles, Albert Einstein in … well, you get the point. He’s great!! He has consistently silenced his doubters one-by-one, but one question has hovered over the latter portion of his career…’Can he do it without Shaq?’

Quite frankly, I’m tired of hearing the question, and now its irrelevant because he has led his team to the Finals two straight years and to the championship this year — he finally DID IT without Shaq.

But the criticism was absurd, I think it was ignorant! Winning a title without Shaq wouldn’t have made or broke his legacy in the NBA because not only had he been on a championship contender without Shaq, he’s actually gotten better without him. The stats don’t lie! (…a la Bill Marshall)

Since Shaq’s departure from Hollywood, Bryant has averaged 29.9 points per game in the 5 years on his own as opposed to his 21.6 per game in the eight seasons with the Diesel clogging up the middle. He’s also won an MVP award, scored 81 points, scored 61 in the Garden, scored 62 in three quarters, multiple First Team All-Defensive recognitions, and the list goes on.

Now add four-time NBA champion to that, NBA Finals MVP to that, and one of the greatest statistical performances in Finals history to that! (…32.4 points and 7.4 assists per game to be exact).

He constantly stepped up in the season when it mattered the most, finishing the regular season averaging just 26.8 points, 5.3 boards and 4.9 dimes per game, he came on strong in the playoffs as he jumped his scoring up to 30.2, his boards up to 5.4, and his assists up to 5.5.

The efficiency he displayed during this run also gave effulgence to his troops, notably Derek Fisher and Trevor Ariza, in crunch time, so I don’t ever want to hear that he isn’t a leader.

Bryant will go down as one of the top-5 greatest players of all-time, joining the likes of Larry, Magic, Michael, and Wilt. A string of players known by just one name. And then there’s Kobe (…doesn’t that sound like it just fits?).

What he’s had to endure with his personal life is also amazing because it has not affected his performances or mental focus one bit out on the court. After the accusations in Eagle, Colorado, all of his endorsement deals were stripped, he was robbed of several MVP trophies, suffered several first round exits from the playoffs, as well as hindered from becoming the American icon that he was on his way to becoming beforehand.

This within itself should place him amongst the greats because they never had to endure the type of distractions that he had to deal with and still keep their focus on the game.

So say what you want to about Kobe Bean Bryant (He’s too arrogant! He’s a fake MJ! His Adidas shoes were ugly! He’s overrated! Lebron’s better!). There is one thing that you can’t deny and that is he will go down as one of the greatest players to ever play the game of basketball.


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