I can describe the way I feel about Kobe Bryant with the words of Vince Vaughn as Wes Mantooth in Anchorman, "I hate him with every bone in my body, but [man] do I respect him. Man do I hate him, like so many others. I have come to realize one thing though; the guy is great. I'm talking about maybe top 7-8 players of all time (top 5 is too generous, he is not better than Jordan, Bird, Russell, Chamberlain, or Magic). His averages will obviously go down from his current career averages, but he currently has 25.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.6 blocks. Those numbers stack up with almost anybody to ever play. Add his 4 championships and he's a definitely one of the best to ever step on a basketball court. Of course, three of those titles came when Kobe was not the best player on the team. Shaquille O'Neal was. We have heard it many times over the past two week; Kobe needed this title for his legacy. I will not argue against that. He was great in this years playoffs and won a Finals MVP , an accolade he had yet to achieve. Now that the have Lakers won the title, he automatically jumps into the top 10 players ever, if he wins another one he is top 7-8. He doesn't have too long before LeBron starts his run, but Kobe can still improve his legacy vastly.
Why do I hate Kobe Bryant? He plays for the Lakers. He is too serious. He cheated on his wife with a 19 year old. He feuded with management. He's torched the Blazers. I could go all day, but let's face it, Kobe is hated probably more than any player in the NBA today. It's because of the media's love affair with him. It's because he puts on a phony persona. It's because the commentators say the same thing about him every time- "He works so hard/he wants this so bad!" We're sick of it. Lakers fans, you would be sick of it too. We haven't seen a player like Kobe before. So many fans hate him, but hardly any people who cover the games hate him. Barry Bonds was hated by both. Terrell Owens is hated by both. Every player is hated by both. Except Kobe. It's not like Bonds and Owens weren't good, so why is Kobe so beloved by the media? It doesn't seem like he is super friendly with the media or anything, so why? Still, I think every Kobe Hater, such as myself, can agree Kobe is a great player, and when people look back on Kobe's career that's what they will see him as just that- a great player.
Yet another reason I hate Kobe is when people say, "he has more pure talent than MJ." That is a crazy statement. How can a player who hasn't really bested MJ in anything have more talent. If anything it's a knock to Kobe, saying he hasn't lived up to his potential. He should be better than MJ if he is more talented. Kobe has an large array of skills, but it's not like Jordan didn't. Jordan was and will always be much better than Kobe. Stats back it up and rings back it up. So please Kobe apologists, stop comparing him to MJ!
As much as I hate Kobe I admit, he has been one of the best players in my time following sports. It's not often that we get to see a top 10 player of all time (and LeBron will, in likelihood, join him on that list). He has an amazing skill set. He hits an amazing amount of contested jumpers and also knows how to get to the line, an important asset for a swingman like Kobe. He can lock down players on defense if he really tries. He is a very complete player, not the great team player he's been dubbed as in these playoffs, but still has one of the most complete skill sets we've ever seen. He is one of five players (Jordan, West, Robertson, Barry), through 13 seasons to have at least 25 points, 5 rebounds, and 4.5 assists. Truly elite company.
My finals thoughts come back to my hatred of Kobe and how he will be remembered. He will be most likely remembered top 6-7 all time when he retires (LeBron will push him back a spot when he is done). Is Kobe really better than MJ, Russell, Chamberlain, Magic, Bird, Robertson, West, and Kareem? I don't think so. When you watch Kobe and LeBron now, in their primes, you are crazy if you don't think LeBron will have a better career. Statistically, at least. I don't want this to turn into a LeBron versus Kobe deal, but LeBron will be the best player of my generation, not Kobe. Kobe's legacy will be greatly affected by his 4 titles. Which I don't think judging a player by his titles if fair, especially if he didn't have enough talent to win a championship (Wilt Chamberlain should have won many more, but he wasn't surrounded by good enough players). Kobe currently ranks at about number 10 on my list of greatest players ever. Unless he gets another MVP or 30 point season or title that won't be changing. Man, I cannot believe I just wrote a whole article on Kobe, I'm gonna puke now.