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In Wilbon's World

On Kobe's legacy

LOS ANGELES -- "Legacy" is the word I hate most now, as in "How is Kobe Bryant's legacy affected by winning his fifth NBA Championship?" It's nearly as annoying a topic of discussion as NFL OTAs.

Kobe Bryant is the best player in professional basketball today, better than LeBron James, better than any and everybody, even if his determined one-on-three efforts in Game 7 Thursday night were misguided and helped the Celtics build a 13-point lead at one point. The Lakers won an entirely dramatic if not very well played winner-take-all Game 7 because Pau Gasol controlled the action from the low block for an important spell, because Ron Artest justified the Lakers' faith in him by, of all things, hitting a couple of huge shots and carrying the offensive load early when Kobe wasn't up to it, and because Kobe closed it all out by finding his game in the final few minutes.

And then it was on ... the discussion about Kobe's place in Lakers history, basketball history, sports history, because we obsess over perspective now, as much the fault of sports columnists and TV talkers as anything. The newest entirely lazy thing in sports is simply counting championships and ranking a player accordingly. And because Kobe has surpassed Shaq and Tim Duncan's four NBA Championships won, has now tied Magic Johnson's five, and has crept within one of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Jordan's six, there is this need in some quarters to ask the question as to whether Kobe has pulled even with the likes of Magic and Jordan.

So let me answer the question very quickly.

Absolutely not.

Bryant is the best player in the game today, which ought to be praise enough but apparently isn't.

He is not now as impactful or as talented a player as Magic, nor Michael and a sixth title, even a seventh wouldn't change that. And the people leading such a discussion ought to be shouted down. But what most people do now is simply take what they've seen, no matter how limited, and declare that because it happened today it must be the best thing that ever happened.

Magic Johnson (along with Larry Bird) invented modern basketball as we know it through their passing, and they did it before the NBA became watered down with all manner of expansion teams and kids with AAU degrees who have no idea how to play the game. Michael Jordan, through a brilliance Kobe can often approach but not sustain, lifted the game internationally to the point where it was said that nobody in the world did anything as well as Michael Jordan played basketball.

Kobe's not in that league on either count. You want one stat that will tell you how much better an offensive player Jordan was than Kobe? Twice in his career Michael Jordan hit nearly 54 percent of his shots over the course of a full season. Kobe has never shot 50 percent. Not once. Oh, Kobe hits tougher shots. He hits more shots while closely guarded than any player ever. Jordan, meanwhile, used his teammates and the offensive system both men played in to get himself open shots. Not that Jordan couldn't and didn't torch good defenders; in fact defense was much nastier and (by rule) much more physical when Jordan played (Bad Boy Pistons, Dennis Johnson and the Celtics) than it is now.

A coach who coached against both Kobe and Jordan said last week that if Jordan had played in this series he would have shot close to 50 percent and averaged 42 points a game against these Celtics over a seven-game series. And consider that Jordan never ever played with a big man of Pau Gasol's offensive skill level.

As with any comparative conversation these days, memories are short if they exist at all. You have to be at least 50 years old to remember Oscar Robertson and you'd have to be 60 to remember he averaged a triple-double for an entire season (1962). Too often I see some 24-year-old running around screaming, "Kobe's the best player ever." How the hell would he know? Too often the great players of the 1960s, '70s and now even the 1980s. If somebody enters a basketball argument and hasn't even heard of Fat Lever he's not qualified to be in a serious discussion.

Kobe Bryant, once again, is the best player in the game today. He might, with this fifth championship if we insist on discussing legacy even though Kobe is still editing his own historical contribution, have risen above Elgin Baylor and Jerry West (there's a mouthful) on the Lakers food chain. But I'm not ready to put him above Kareem and no amount of titles will enable him to surpass Magic Johnson in my book. I'm not sure if I started a team today and had to win one game to save my own life that I wouldn't take Magic above Jordan.

The best thing about Kobe right now is he's got a good enough team around him to make it to the Finals again next year, and that certainly includes Coach Phil Jackson, the best ever in any sport at what he does, who seems now more likely to stick around than not. Jackson tends to win in threes, which means next season would be his fourth attempt at a three-peat. Wouldn't it be great if he had to go through the Chicago Bulls, his old team, and LeBron James to get it?

The Eastern Conference should be wide open if LeBron leaves Cleveland. The Celtics aren't going to exist in the same form next season; Boston has to begin rebuilding sometime. The Celtics simply ran out of energy Thursday night, which was predictable since they didn't have Kendrick Perkins to help them hold their own on the boards. The Lakers' plus-15 in offensive rebounding was what told you, even when the Celtics were leading, that Los Angeles was going to figure out a way to win the game and a 16th championship in the end. Kobe Bryant had 15 of those rebounds, and surged late in the game while the Celtics wilted like a boxer who had nothing left in the 15th and final round.

It doesn't take a discussion about legacy or a history lesson to see how Kobe Bryant exerts his will upon a basketball game. A fifth championship should be celebrated on its own merit and not become the center of a misguided historical debate.


Michael Wilbon

 |  June 18, 2010; 11:25 AM ET  |  Category:  NBA Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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BTW... Kobe's 2nd Finals MVP is not even a question!! All the NBA folks were talking about Kobe being the front-runner for MVP even if the Celtics pulled off the series. You Kobe haters need a reality check!

Posted by: dcjr7921 | June 29, 2010 5:15 PM
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The funny thing with these Kobe haters (this is a real term for you all) is all the contradictions they throw out to discredit Kobe. One poster sat their and said Kobe would have no rings without Shaq or Gasol. Well correct me if I'm wrong, but Shaq wasn't winning all those Finals MVPs when he was with the Magic. Nor was he doing much in LA with Nick Van Exel and Eddie Jones in the backcourt. And last I checked, NO ONE was calling Pau Gasol one of the best big men in the game until he teamed up with Kobe. So y'all need to try and be a little more objective and stop blindly running off at the mouth.

Posted by: dcjr7921 | June 29, 2010 4:44 PM
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All i have to say is why dose nobody even acknowledge or remember the fact of mj scoring 22pts a game 6.1rbs 1.5 stls and5.5asst a game with wizards at the tender age of 39 going on 40.This stat is better than most players in the league let alone doing it at 40yrs old.Mj watered down and well past his prime was still better than most.If you remember you still had most of all the players at that time still gearing up to challange and old man so what dose that say about jordans greatness?Ill be intrested to see if kobe is even thinking about playing at that age and still putting up solid want to talk impact,what player you know is still selling sneakers and clothing and as marketed as mj and he hasnt laced up sneakers for how long?Come on.Kobe is great and i enjoy watching him play and he is the most deadliest player on the court no doubt but you cant put his legacy or impact on par with mj untill his career is over.People say stats dont matter,how could this be?if they dont matter then why would anybody keep track of them?I agree stats arent everything to summerize a players worth on the court but they definatley mean something.I love what kobe brings to the game even if its a mj copycat cause who else besides kobe even comes close to replicating mj.Not everybody can copy greatness and so what if kobe dose mimic mj.If i had kobes ability and came into the league who else better at that time to learn from and watch and try to master what hes done than mj.Nuff said

Posted by: dmann2569 | June 28, 2010 7:10 PM
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Posted by: shanmason | June 22, 2010 6:48 PM
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There will never, never be another Mr. Jordan. Mke was smooth as silk in every way possbile on the floor. Dr. J started to creat possbilities and Mike finished it. There is nothing else you can do that he did not do. Players are trying but they cannot. Kobe tries to be like Mike, although a great player, he is no M.J. M.J. never got ticked on the floor, argued with his players in games, argued with referees, try to take the coaches role in game situations - his game spoke for itself - Smooth as silk.

Posted by: Baller1122 | June 21, 2010 12:55 PM
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Ok now let talk about the other team because if they had won Wilbon would have compared them to Bird's Celtics and talk about how great the are. Face it Wilbon is a bigot for east coast basketball. Yes he would give the old time west coast teams their due but nothing new from the west is any good.

So let us talk about the Celtics. Everyone here on the east coast on the radio and TV Picked the Celtics to win. But they could not close the deal and Perkins not being in the game was not a deciding factor. Magic help the Lakers take the finals after Karem was hurt and Perkins ain't no Karem. Magic just stepped up his game and helped the team win the finals.

Where was that in this Celtic team. They were ahead for most of the game and the Lakers could not make a FG until the end of the game.

I guess the Celtics did not want it enough or they lost their swagger or they are now 2000 and late. In the end they got beat by a team that wanted it more.

The legacy of Kobe and players like him is that they just want it more and have teammates that they inspire to want it more.

That is all Jordan, Magic and Bird had to do. I think Kobe would get his team to step and play Jordan's team. The trick would be finding 2 Phil Jacksons.

Posted by: Rax359 | June 21, 2010 12:38 PM
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It sickens me to see all these Lakers front runners in Washington DC. But Wilbon is right, and every kid on here who was still a fetus when Jordan was averaging 35 points per game in the post season. Really just needs to stop talking, Jordan is an iconic name. It is recognized by everybody. Go ahead Laker fans compare the statistics and championships. Jordan will always be the greatest, and there is nothing Kobe can do about it.

Posted by: Torch44 | June 21, 2010 6:28 AM
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Is this the first time a team had to beat 4 straight 50+ win teams in a seven game series to win the championship like the Lakers just did?

When the Celtics won 11 out of 13 championships, the first four were in an 8 team league.

In 1957, the Celtics had a first round bye and only had to beat one team before taking on the western champion Hawks who were 34-38.

In 1959, the 52-20 Celtics beat the 33-39 Lakers for the championship.

In 1960, the Celtics beat the St Louis Hawks. But only after the Hawks survived a west finals in 7 games over the 25-50 Lakers.

Basically the level of competition is MUCH higher today. I'd put this year's 8th seed Oklahoma City against any of those old Celtics teams.

Posted by: tatashady | June 21, 2010 12:05 AM
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1993–94: Michael Jordan retires
During the summer, Jordan shocked the basketball community by announcing his retirement, only months after learning of his father's murder. The Bulls were then led by Scottie Pippen, who established himself as one of the top players in the league by winning the 1994 All-Star MVP. He received help from Horace Grant and B.J. Armstrong, who were named to their first all-star games. The three were assisted by Cartwright, Perdue, shooting guard Pete Myers, and Croatian rookie forward Toni Kukoč. Despite the Bulls' amazing run during the 1993–94 season, where they won 55 games, they were beaten in seven games by the Knicks in the second round of the playoffs, after a controversial foul call by referee Hue Hollins in game 5 of that series. (The Knicks eventually reached the finals that year, but lost to the Houston Rockets.)

The Bulls won 55 games without Jordan... 55!!! Jordan had plenty of help.

Posted by: joejinkim | June 20, 2010 12:33 PM
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Posted by: jiji1 | June 19, 2010 2:12 PM
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After reading these comments, Mr. Wilbon is receiving unwarranted criticism for merely attempting to gauge Kobe's legacy now that he's won a 5th title. That's exactly what sports writers do. Get over it.

Secondly, people complain that you can't compare players and their legacy. That's patently false. In 1996, the NBA recognized the 50 greatest players in the history of the NBA. Therefore, even the NBA was willing to recognize that distinctions CAN and WILL be made regarding a player's career. The basis for those selections came from many sources, including MEDIA MEMBERS LIKE WILBON, therefore don't underestimate/misplace his opinion and contribution to this discussion.

With that said, the ultimate question then is: what criteria should a person use to distinguish players from one another?

My answer (and i emphasize "MY") is: (1) individual statistics, (2) team statistics, and (3) their effect on the game. Everyone knows these variables are CONTEXTUAL. Therefore no sports comparison can or will ever be directly analogous. However, looking at those stats is important because it is as close as one can get to being objective.

When looking at MJ v. KOBE on those variables, there is a clear separation from the two, with MJ having accomplished far, far more than Kobe.


On Team Statistics, KOBE loses again - see 6-0 vs. 5-2 in NBA Finals. Also note the 72-10 Chicago Bulls Team.

Lastly, everyone knows MJ's effect on the game of basketball, sports, business, and society. It overshadows Kobe's beyond what the common man will even understand.

Not to mention that all of MJ's accomplishments occurred when: (1) Defensive fundamentals were emphasized more and executed on a regular basis, (2) MJ played against more Top 50 NBA players than Kobe, (3) the RULES allowed for Defensive 3-seconds and handchecking, and (4)MJ never had a single all-star caliber BIG MAN.

So even if you were to look at the CONTEXT of those variables, its clear MJ is head and shoulders above Kobe. And in my opinion, the greatest of all time.

Then. Now. Forever.

Posted by: KingHippo | June 19, 2010 11:49 AM
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Wilbon lacks credibility when discussing these type of topics and is biased towards Kobe. Who remember when in 2006 Wilbon said that D Wade was the next Jordan due to his finals performance? Why did Wilbon think that Wade was the best and Jordan sucessor. Now what Wade did against the Mavs Kobe routinely did to a championship team like the Spurs etc. Then just as quick LeBron was the best. Listen Wilbon will never give Kobe his due because he is not objective. Even Mark Kriegel a noted Kobe critic is now on Kobe's band wagon because the man is special.

Posted by: bdorsett1 | June 19, 2010 10:11 AM
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I love Magic and he is my boy but Kobe is ahead of him. First Kobe never got swept in the Finals wheras Magic twice. Magic loss 4 times and Kobe only twice. Magic faked a hamstring injury against Detroit because he didn't want to be embarassed. Kobe plays with 8 and 9 fingers for entire seasons. Could Kobe had played against the Bad Boy Pistons? Of course remember Kobe got suspended twice for his offensive moves. Kobe and Ron ron almost fought because his hit in Ron's throath. Kobe can be as dirty and ruthless as Ric Flair the Nature Boy. Mike Wilbon like other people like to romanticise about the past greats but Kobe is now and any fool can tell that he is one of the best of all time and right now right behind MJ. At the end of his career he can be the greatest.

Posted by: bdorsett1 | June 19, 2010 9:50 AM
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Posted by: jiji1 | June 19, 2010 12:33 AM
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BLAH! BLAH! BLAH! It's a team sport people. The greatest always need help. Only individual sports can have a greatest, and even then people will complain about technology, training methods, pool of competition. It's all BLAH BLAH BLAH. Enjoy the games and the battles of will. Stop trying to categorize and box it neatly. Oh yeah Magic Magic Magic, What was the name of EA sports basketball game? One on One: Bird Vs Dr.J!! Dr.J killed in two leagues ABA & NBA, The Knicks sabotaged the Nets so they couldn't afford Dr.J. But even Dr.J needed help to win a championship. One more thing kids DR.J from the foul line. COME ON!! The dunk heard round the world, people! That dunk merged the ABA & NBA. Enjoy each era for what it is, a battle of TEAMS!

Posted by: chuckandjessica | June 19, 2010 12:27 AM
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Wilbon is living in the past. Does anybody remember the Bulls or Jordan before they built a team around him. I don't even remember them making the playoffs. Jordan, Magic and Bird would not have done anything if they did not have great teammates around them. I think if I were to give credit to someone other than Kobe it would be Phil Jackson because he is a thinking coach. Other than that there are a lot of great teams out there now that would match or beat the Jordan Bulls if they were around today. Jordan would be shutdown today because everyone plays like Mike now and have train to play like Mike or better for the last 10 years.

Kobe is a great player that seems to get better every year. Wilbon is just mad because the east coast team got smoked. Shaq will not be making a nasty rap about Kobe not pulling it off this year.

Posted by: Rax359 | June 18, 2010 10:39 PM
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I heard Michael Wilbon speaking on television today and I will only say it made me sick to my stomach to see the Lakers beat the Celtics in the game last night. Kobe may be a great player, but not a great person. I would also say that Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, Wilt Chamberlein, Oscar Robertson, Dr. J, Larry Bird, Magic, all had a greater impact on the game of basketball than Kobe ever will, and he may be the first to admit it. Those 5 Laker Championship teams Kobe played on were fortunate to have played week teams, with the exception of this Celtics team. Those Laker teams would not have beaten any of the Celtics Championship teams of the 80's and for that matter probably not any of previous 17 Celtic Championship teams period! I'd also would like to see Phil Jackson go to the Knicks to coach and then maybe we can really judge once and for all, if he deserves to be in Red Auerbach's company by building a championship team and dynasty from scratch.

Posted by: MDT1 | June 18, 2010 10:10 PM
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Why does Wilbon always bend over for Jordan & Magic ? Is he their love child or something ?

Posted by: ellislawoffice | June 18, 2010 9:23 PM
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Kobe Shmobe. People forget that once Shaq and Phil left the Lakers (engineered by Kobe), they stunk. It wasn't until Gasol showed up in one of the most ridiculous trades in history (who do you like, Pau or Kwame?) that the Lakers became relevant again. If I was starting a team and could pick one player off the Lakers tomorrow, it'd be Gasol.

Posted by: randysbailin | June 18, 2010 8:51 PM
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ANYONE who thinks Kobe Bryant should be mentioned in the same sentence as Jordan is an ignorant and foolish person with no connection to the history of the game. Half of these people just started watching basketball a few (ten) years ago. Kobe Bryant is a little girl who threw his team, teammates and the entire franchise under the bus! Remember his comments – “Screw LA, trade me! Screw Bynum, where is Jason Kid?!” During “his” rape case, he publicly snitched on SHAQ and since then if things don’t go his way he cries. Kobe Bryant plays basketball in a WEAK, Diluted NBA with lazy bums to challenge him. I wish there was a team like the PISTONS, or KNICKS to slam his ass to the ground and see how many rings he could get then??
No doubt, he is the best player now, but how can ANY PERSON WHO CALLS HIMSELF A MAN – cheer for this dude? People are sad, thank God I lived when Jordan and the NBA was truly great!
Kobe Bryant entered the NBA after High school, he has time on his side. But THERE WILL NEVER, EVER BE ANOTHER JORDAN!!!!
10 time ALL NBA, 9 time all defensive team, 14 time All Star, 2 time Gold Medalist, 6 TITLES, 6 MVP against NBA Legends – Magic, Isaiah, Ewing, Barkley, Malone, Stockton, Miller, Drexel, Payton, Kemp. Forced to retired by IGNORANT CHICAGO MANAGEMENT and NEVER DEFENDED HIS TITLE! AND JORDAN NEVER HAD A TRUE BIG MAN IN THE MIDDLE.
MJ without a true center = 6 RINGS.
KOBE without Shaq or Gasol = a ringless chump.


Posted by: denzelfreeman | June 18, 2010 8:28 PM
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Man it's a shame to think that this column has drum up so much acrimony over who is the best of all time. Wilbon and other sports writers across the country have all stated, and to their credit some of them have seen in person enough basketball and other sports to really know what they're talking about. Now Wilbon is old enough to know about and seen the Big "O" play. Which is to say that some people think he is the greatest of all time. It's all about opinion. To me it's Air Jordan. But to start throwing around stats and rings is unfair to the individual. Is Kobe a top 5 player? Maybe. But is he better than any of the greats at the position that came before him? i.e. Michael Jordan, Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, to name a few. It's all based on opinion. My question to all of you is would Kobe be able to play in the NBA with the rules those guys had to play with? And how much better would those that came before him be with the rules that Kobe now plays with? I would have to say the latter would fair much better with the no hand checking and defensive 3 seconds and all the other rules that favor the offense than Kobe would with all the physical play of the 60's 70's and 80's.

Posted by: ashtonb1 | June 18, 2010 8:16 PM
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No question that Magic and Bird reinvented the NBA when it was needed and MJ took it to another level. You obviously enjoyed Magic in way that is different than him being a better basketball player than Kobe. You liked him better because of the joy he played with and the whole Showtime thing. You seem to forget that he played with a team of All Stars and near Allstars that was much deeper than any of the watered down teams of today. Just imagine what Nash would accomplish with the Showtime Lakers. With his shooting and those players, WOW! I loved the way he played and he was largely responsible for me getting hooked on the NBA but was he much different than Steven Nash in that regard? Magic was not a great shooter and could not easily get his own shot. He was not a great on the ball defender. He certainly was great and the best point guard of all time but as great as MJ. Speaking of MJ, I believe if you go back and look at film, you will see that his high scoring average and shooting percentage was inflated substantially by the way the league "protected" their cash cow just like they do today with "the golden child" LBJ and "flash" Wade. MJ would live at the line on fantom and/or touch fouls that would inflate his scoring and field goal percentage. Any great player would increase their scoring and field goal percentage if they received the same treatment. Now Kobe does get to the line quite often but is not treated by the league in nearly the same liberal way as MJ and LBJ. Just look at the old film of MJ and LBJ and compare their treatment by the zebras compared to how Kobe is treated by comparison. The league pimps for their chosen "face" of the league and its obvious when you look at the evidence.

Posted by: marvjs77 | June 18, 2010 7:53 PM
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Posted by: dmatthe06 | June 18, 2010 7:10 PM
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I'm glad that Mike gave props to Magic and even stated that he may have to pick Magic over MJ to win a single game his life depended on.

I'm very happy to see Magic get his props from Mike Wilbon because I have always thought that Magic Johnson was the best basketball player ever. Not only was Magic the leader of probably the finest team in NBA history, the Showtime Lakers, he led them to win 5 titles during the most competitive era in basketball history - the '80's. On top of that he helped raise the profile of the league from one that tape-delayed the Finals to new heights. Most impressive though, he could do it all with such flair, such pizazz and gusto, he was more than a winner and champion, more than the greatest player, more than a leader that raised the games of all those around him but he was an entertainer.

Kobe though, he is an incredible scorer. Give Kobe credit, he is definitely not playing with another top-50 all-time player beside him like MJ had in Pippen, Kobe has had to carry more of the burden. This season Kobe was on his way to his best shooting percentage of close to 50% until his injury. He's led the Lakers now to his second consecutive title after the three-peat with Shaq, he's grown as a leader as he's aged.

Kobe is definitely top-20. Probably top-10 and possibly top-5 right now, but given his resolute will-to-win I don't place it beyond him to surpass MJ with 7 titles, and possibly double-digit in Finals appearances and maybe even end up as the all-time scoring champ too. If he accomplishes those things I think it is possible to put him up on the basketball Mt Rushmore, at least at a seat next to MJ and Magic, and maybe even at the head of that table...

Posted by: CyberCosmiX | June 18, 2010 6:51 PM
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Enjoyed this article thoroughly.

Unfortunately, I have to agree with Wilbon's assessment and other posters as well, that today's NBA is a watered down version of its former self. Even with all of the offensive advantageous rule changes there are almost no guards or wing players who can shoot 50% from the field. I'm 35 and I can remember being more interested in college basketball in my Junior and Senior High School days, why??? you ask, because there was more drama in the college game.

Due to the fact that when I watched NBA games on NBC, the players almost never seemed to miss shots (with hand-checking and everything) and I used to think it was boring! sheesh, what was I thinking!

Posted by: Sanglant25 | June 18, 2010 6:22 PM
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I've argued the same thing about Magic vs Jordan. If picking any players, in their primes, I'd take Magic first. That's because of the importance of the position, and the drop off at the position. Jordan to Kobe is a drop, but is it a decisive drop for the outcome on teams loaded with hall of famers? I don't think so. The same goes for all the other positions, except point guard. That's not disrespecting Robertson or Stockton or other greats - it's just that Magic was unreal by every measure (see his rookie year, 1980 finals, game 6). I don't think anyone else combined maximizing the potential in his team with superstar individual talent quite like Magic. Several other players come to mind on this (two Celtics in particular), but I think Magic stands alone. And combining these two traits is exactly what would be most important for this scenario.

Posted by: evilpettingzoo | June 18, 2010 6:12 PM
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If Kobe is greater than Shaq or MJ, then Derek Fisher is greater than John Stockton, Kevin Johnson, Tim Hardaway and Dennis Johnson. Crazy cause Fisher isn't just because he has 5 rings. Neither is Kobe. Like it, him or not, Kobe was the Pippen for 3 titles + one can make a serious argument that Gasol was 2010 finals MVP. Kobe had like 1 great game (a loss) and maybe 2 really good ones out of 7.

Shaq was rookie of the year. Kobe wasn't.
Shaq has 3 finals MVP that were not debatable. Kobe has 2 with 1 major debatable one. Kobe has one more ring. Then again, Fisher has 5 more rings than Ewing. Doesn't make him better than Patrick though.

Posted by: kedavis | June 18, 2010 6:04 PM
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2) Nobody has forgotten about Russell and MJ will not be forgotten ever because he is the reason the NBA is still relevant today. He has left too much of a mark on the game of basketball to be forgotten. In 2020, it'll still be compared to MJ.
Posted by: Sticksboi35 | June 18, 2010 5:47 PM
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yes but to the point of another blogger on here. Michael Jordans Iconic status overshadows anything anyone else does no matter how great they are playing or played. All i am saying is. Can Kobe's days be over before we start talking about Legacies? No one was talking about MJ's legacy while he was playing. Not until he retired the 2nd time.

Posted by: mrhney03 | June 18, 2010 5:54 PM
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1) He isn't saying he's not an all time great. Last night he said he'd put Kobe in the top 20 ever.

2) Nobody has forgotten about Russell and MJ will not be forgotten ever because he is the reason the NBA is still relevant today. He has left too much of a mark on the game of basketball to be forgotten. In 2020, it'll still be compared to MJ.

Posted by: Sticksboi35 | June 18, 2010 5:47 PM
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By the way, why does nobody ever remember defense when it comes to MJ. He was simply one of the best wing defenders ever. KB asks to guard a hot wing player for a quarter or whatever on occasion. MJ played the best one on one all the time. It was no big deal. OMG, KB asked to guard DW. Really?

Posted by: rphilli721 | June 18, 2010 5:37 PM
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Absolutely not.

Bryant is the best player in the game today, which ought to be praise enough but apparently isn't.

so when today is over, will he be included in the best ever category? No one appreciates the times we live in now and thats not fair. Everyone wants to always compare players to the 80's and 90's....well those days are over. And once these days are over i am more than sure that KOBE will be included as the best ever. So wilbon continue to live in the past okay bro? get over it! Your boy michael jordan has somebody climbing on his mountain and about to put a flag on it. Kobe bryant will soon be compared to just like MIKE. as the days go on we will forget about mike, Like how your generation forgot about Russell, and Greats before him. SO im not buying your logic that Kobe isnt one of the greatest ever. It just sounds like a bunch of haterade to me.

Posted by: mrhney03 | June 18, 2010 5:34 PM
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I read all the Kobe hater comments on here and just smile. Let me set the record. As a Laker fan I love Kobe and all that put on the laker uniform. I want everyone to listen and listen good. Kobe is not MJ and never will be. There will never be another MJ, just like never be another Magic or Bird or West or wilt. You can not put them in the same class because the variables for each was different. The media hated all year riding king james and disrespecting the game of kobe and saying he was not worth not one vote for MVP. I am not saying he was MVP but not even an LA media voted for him. Give me a break. The thing is Kobe is winning with a team of guys just like MJ, Magic, and all before did. MJ scored 40+ in the first years before the ring years and lost bad and so did Kobe post shaq. So I say all of this to say stop saying Kobe is the next MJ because he is not. He is KOBE one of the great players and the best player in the league now.

Posted by: bigyoungin | June 18, 2010 5:21 PM
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If you're talking about players who revolutionized the game, I'd put Bill Russell, Oscar Robertson, Magic Johnson, Julius Erving and Larry Bird. As great as Jordan was, he basically was Dr. J w/ a greater killer instinct and a better outside shot.

Posted by: randysbailin | June 18, 2010 5:18 PM
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I think now is the perfect time for a round table discussion with the true experts, the players. There should be a forum of players past and current to discuss and formulate a list of the greatest players of all times.

Posted by: jmorr81 | June 18, 2010 5:03 PM
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In terms of "importance" to the game of basketball or inventiveness or redefining something, Kobe is not even a top 20 player much less top 10 or 5.

Kobe is about an 80% MJ copycat, which is pretty damn good. Kobe admitted as much in his interview when the MJ comparison was brought up. He can't compare himself to MJ bc without MJ there is no KB. Not to mention MJ was just flat out a more talented player. See the competition, the teammates, the stats that Wilbon mentions etc etc etc

Posted by: rphilli721 | June 18, 2010 4:13 PM
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KOBE deserves his due and praise. I know he is a young, cocky punk but he is a great player. All great players never stop fighting and figure out a way to win. In last night's Finals, Kobe's shots were not going in and he became frustrated. Did he quit? NO. He adjusted and started pulling down rebounds, 15 to be exact. Those rebounds kept the Lakers in the game and his teammates picked up the slack. Then, when the game was on the line, Kobe found a way to win with his free throws, key free throws, in the last 25 seconds of the game. Say what you will but you gotta love Kobe's determination and drive.

Jordan is Mr. Basketball, in a class all his own. Kobe, nor Magic, nor Bird compare to MJ. Jordan made the game exciting as he seemed to invent moves that were dazzling from right to left handed shots, off-balance unbelievable shots, awesome dunks that may you say "D A M" and in general, smart basketball. Of course, I could be bias since I live in Chicago but I am also female and love to see some good basketball.

That being said, maybe it's just me but the Lakers/Celtics games were boring. I loved the 7 game series between the Bulls and the Cavs in last year's post-season. Now that was some good basketball.

Posted by: JackBQuik | June 18, 2010 4:04 PM
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I'm not going to get into an internet fight but a hint for the future. When you call someone out, actually add to the discussion and provide your opinion as to whyyou disagree with my statements on Kobe, who I said is surely top 15 ever.

Posted by: Sticksboi35 | June 18, 2010 4:03 PM
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Wow, Sticksboi35, I just read your other comments. You're a straight fool. Like a really slow, dumb individual. I am honestly surprised that you can read. And you're trying to call me out. Go home.

Posted by: Urnesto | June 18, 2010 3:46 PM
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No, Sticksboi35, I'm simply calling it out as lame. No babying at all. What the frick do you care? I'm right - it's a lame way for him to write. The pretentious attitude he displays is deafening and I'm honestly and bluntly telling him what I think about it. Not a single bit of babying. What a weird thing to say, weirdo.

Posted by: Urnesto | June 18, 2010 3:42 PM
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I hated Jordan. I saw him as all hype. Those early years when he was getting whupped by the Bad Boy Pistons I used to smile and laugh at his impotence and when he finally broke thru to go on that initial 3-peat run I used to scowl and grimace at his success. Then he left and I realized what he meant to the game and what he did for the game. I cheered him during that 2nd 3-peat run and was at long last a fan. Kobe is talented no doubt but I'd say from an influential standpoint LeBron has a greater legacy as far as his impact on the game than the Black Mamba. Kobe's got rings, MVP's, scoring titles etc. but he seems like a less than stellar sequel of His Airness as opposed to a whole new product that alters the course of the game and the NBA.
Just my opinion.

Posted by: blackman1 | June 18, 2010 3:36 PM
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Mr. Wilbon just keeps showing his Chicago biases. I have seen Kobe, Michael, Larry, and Magic all play. They were all great and excelled in their own different ways. Negating Kobe's greatness reminds me of soccer fans today who refuse to recognize Messi's greatness in comparison to Pele and Maradona, two great soccer players. Messi may not play anything like Pele or Maradona ever played, but then I don't ever recall seeing Pele or Maradona play like Messi, who has completely mesmerized me through his amazing dribbling, passing, and scoring skills during the last four years. I say hurrah for Kobe and Messi!

Posted by: alexbecerra | June 18, 2010 3:28 PM
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Urnesto are you seriously acting like a little baby over his use of the word "hate"? Seriously?

Posted by: Sticksboi35 | June 18, 2010 3:28 PM
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For those of you who want to see when defense was much much tougher:

Posted by: Sticksboi35 | June 18, 2010 3:27 PM
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Seriously, Wilbon, why do you use the word "hate" so much? I mean, why must everything you don't like be "hated"? You "hate" when people challenge you, when people talk about legacies, when people talk about OTA's, etc., etc. Unless you're truly psycho, I have to believe that you simply mean that you "don't like" those things. You are not Rush Limbaugh and don't need to be. Why so much hate? If you want to dislike the word "legacy," fine. That's your right. But "hate"???? When someone (a blogger, a coach, a player, etc.) does something you don't like, it seems that you always write that you "hate" it. Have any opinion you want but stop with all the hating. [Btw, I did notice that you stopped calling everyone "sorry, no account" which is very welcomed. That was SUCH a lazy technique and it's good to have variety. But similarly this constant "hating" has got to go.] Here are some options: "I am discourgaged by...", "I am annoyed by...", "I don't like it when...", "It gets my goat when..." Those are all alternatives to the hate, hate, hate that you've been spewing.

Posted by: Urnesto | June 18, 2010 3:24 PM
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Kobe is top 15 all-time. Not top 5. You can't just look at rings.

But here's the thing...

MJ,Magic and Bird played in a much tougher era of defense. Magic and Bird won rings going through each other. MJ had to go through the Bad Boy Pistons and the ruthless Knicks to win.

Kobe's first 4 rings were won against teams that were only there because someone had to be there. The Nets,Pacers,76ers and Magic were all mediocre teams compared to the teams Jordan/Magic/Bird beat to win their rings.

Shaq was the force in 2000-20002 putting up nearly 40 and 20 a game in those Finals.

Where are Kobe's signature NBA Finaks performances? Where is that game we all remember? Where is that shot, that play, that we can give a name to? There is none. Kobe wins Finals but he didn't single handedly win games like the aforementioned players.

He's an all-time great but someone ho actually has an appreciation or knowledge of the history of the game knows he is not with Magic/MJ/Bird.

People saying "well MJ had Pippen". Yeah, and...Kobe has a loaded squad. LOADED. MJ also never had a big man half as good as Gasol. Who, Bill Wennington?

"Magic had Kareem". Yeah he also was going against the 80's Celtics who are FAR FAR better than the mediocre teams Kobe has beat. The teams he beat sucked until the Celtics.

I know we live in a "what have you done lately" society now but the reality is Kobe is not the greatest Laker ever or a top 5 player. When he ends his career he might be but not now.

Posted by: Sticksboi35 | June 18, 2010 3:13 PM
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Lakerfan12 :

Calling the Celtics "one of the best defensive teams ever" automatically rules you out of the conversation. And what you say about Jordan's shooting percentage is completely false. Even as a 39yr old man with knee problems he shot close to 45% for the season. Not to mention his 6+ rebounds per game and 1.5 stls per game. As a guy who turned 40(!) yrs old during that season, and had taken three seasons off.

If you really believe in your heart that Jordan wouldn't dominate the NBA today, and moreover if you really believe that defense in general is better today (which it isn't, not even close) you should educate yourself in the game's history. There were nothing but double teams before the rule changes, double and triple teaming was allowed, playing zone wasn't. And you could stay in the lane as long as you wanted, not to mention that those days they still had worthwhile centers patrolling the lane.

Posted by: langdon1975 | June 18, 2010 2:46 PM
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Here is a thought from a grandmother, not some great athlete! Last night as I watched the Celtics appear at the beginning of the game, I saw worry, fear, and depression. There was nothing positive about their appearance. And every time the coach talked to them, he yelled and pushed and challenged. I hoped that Ron Allen's mother could have talked to them. She seemed to have the same approach that I have.

When my grandchildren are studying for an exam, I always tell them how smart they are, how well they will do, and what great students they are. They are sent off thinking positively of themselves. And I believe that tactic works.

I wonder what would have happened if Coach Rivers had done the same thing last evening Now, don't get me wrong. I do respect him and he is a very good coach. But I think sugar does a better job than vinegar. Maybe he should have tried it with the great team that the Celtics are. Whatever anyone might say, I think that the Celtics are the best team that got some bad breaks. How many times did the ball get into the net, rotate once or twice and then land outside of it?

It was a sad night. The Celtics should have won!

Posted by: Formerrepublican | June 18, 2010 2:46 PM
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Great Article. Glad to see someone use criteria for greatness other than simply how many rings a person wins. Kobe is a great player (the best in the game today) and would make first or second team all time. In my book the most dominating player in history was Wilt Chamberlin. The big dipper averaged 50 points a game for an entire season, scored 100 points in a game and totally dominated the boards and blocked shots. He did this and "NEVER" fouled out of a game.

Posted by: IveBeenAround | June 18, 2010 2:45 PM
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umm jerry west seems to think kobe will be the greatest laker ever so i am sorry wilbon but your bias for chicago and for the fact you work with magic may be clouding your judgement
magic played with kareem worthy 2 hall of famers and byron scott and few others players that are way better than any current laker
as for bird he played with 3 hall of famers mchale, dj and parrish
kobe just won 2 rings without any hall of famers on the roster
and wwe all know MJ ddint do jack without scottie who is a hall of famer
sorry MW, if kobe gets one more I will say he is better than both your boys...

Posted by: dimitrymaurice | June 18, 2010 2:37 PM
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I think kobe is cool he definitely came into the game when the game was changing. I can't compare him to jordan. It wouldnt be right. People need to let Jordan be Jordan and Let Kobe be Kobe. I will say this the NBA has become so soft that watching last night's coronation of repeat champs in my opinion wasnt played fully due to the costly officiating but thats just my opinion.

Posted by: seananthony151 | June 18, 2010 2:33 PM
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But the most outstanding figures are his scoring records; Most games with 50+ points, 118; Most consecutive games with 40+ points, 14; Most consecutive games with 30+ points: 65; Most consecutive games with 20+ points: 126; Highest rookie scoring average: 37.6 ppg; Highest field goal percentage in a season: .727

Posted by: emilyg74 | June 18, 2010 2:33 PM
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All I have to say is "Thank God it's finally over". Basketball has to be the most overated game in all of sports. Finally now sports talk radio and print can finally cover important things like NFL & college football.

Posted by: SECFan | June 18, 2010 2:32 PM
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He was the only NBA player to score 4,000 points in a season. He set NBA single-game records for most points (100), most consecutive field goals (18) and most rebounds (55). Perhaps his most mind-boggling stat was the 50.4 points per game he averaged during the 1961-62 season--and if not that, then perhaps the 48.5 minutes per game he averaged that same year.

Posted by: emilyg74 | June 18, 2010 2:31 PM
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i am 65yrs old and i will tell you the greatest player i have ever seen is wilt chamberlain they changed the rules because of is dominance

Posted by: emilyg74 | June 18, 2010 2:25 PM
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Sorry, but I would prefer the opinion of someone in a better position to judge. I agree with Jerry West who stated that when it is all said and done, Kobe will go down as the greatest Laker ever! MJ did not win a championship until Pippen arrived. Majic could not play defense and was a limited long-range shooter. Actually, Bird was better than he was.

Posted by: StLou | June 18, 2010 2:23 PM
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Gotta love the mention of the Big-O. Tripe-double average...unheard of.

Posted by: jbronsmith | June 18, 2010 2:22 PM
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WRONG ! This is not Kobe's Legacy, it is Phil Jackson,coach's Legacy.
Look at All "The Repeat Championships" in Any sport, and you will find a common demoninator. A GREAT COACH with a great record wins...and wins again!
Kobe did not win a championship, "with any coach" at LA; He won when a great COACH; Phil Jackson arrived.

Posted by: stormpost | June 18, 2010 2:19 PM
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that's some serious disrespect to one of the best defensive teams ever in Boston and poor knowledge of the game..40+ pts on 50% shooting? Please!

Jordan has shot poorly himself in the finals before against weaker defensive teams.. shooting in the low '40s. His 50% shooting came early in his career when the league as a whole was shooting a higher %.. flow of the game, defense, athleticism at the guard position, everything has changed. Even with the rule changes regarding handchecking, there is a lot of contact let go against Kobe with hand and bodychecks AND he faces traps on the perimeter that simply wasn't allowed then. Doc Rivers talked about him having to use traps against Kobe really created mismatches for them.

Kobe didn't show patience in the 1st half, that you can criticize.. but he absolutely deserves to be in the conversation among the greats.. top 10 AT LEAST.

Posted by: Lakerfan12 | June 18, 2010 2:15 PM
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I really didn't have a horse in this race......just enjoyed seeing a hard fought Game 7. However, any rational observer has to concede that Kobe is the best player playing today. That said, no way I'd take him ahead of Mike, Magic or Oscar. The Celtics lost their boxer's chance of winning game 7 when Perkins went out (rebounds, rebounds, rebounds). Even at that, Kobe's need to "be the man" until very late in the game gave the Celtics ample opportunity to pull out a win.

Posted by: prestoj | June 18, 2010 2:11 PM
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I learned everything I need to know about Mr. Wilbon through his statement in this article that "...the people leading such a discussion ought to be shouted down." What a jerk. I enjoy discussing differences of opinion with friends, but when it comes to "shouting down" someone, I'll leave that to jerks like him who think they know it all and have the right to force others not to express their opinions. what a jerk.

Posted by: cginnaven | June 18, 2010 2:09 PM
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Well written article that I enjoyed. Gives credit for Kobe for being the best player in the game at the moment, which is 100% true. But everything he says about Jordan is correct.

Whoever said that "Michael had trouble in closeout games in the Finals", you are talking about one game, in a series that wasn't in doubt after Bulls started 3-0, after winning 72 games. Jordan played 35 games in the Finals, never scored less than 20 and had 4 games where he shot under 40%, one of them being 39,3%. He also averaged 11 assists per game against Magic, shot threes on Clyde and outscored Phoenix with 41ppg. Nobody can touch him in playoff conversation and Kobe isn't even close. That is a statistical fact and if you have followed both eras you wouldn't even argue.

But the best thing Wilbon writes is this : The NBA is a watered down league with average talent with AAU pedigrees. Rules have been watered down to improve scoring and even that doesn't help enough. NBA is a flawed product with flawed players, but some superstars still remain..even though none of them can shoot 50% to save their lives. Plus the league has no centers anymore, Gasol is as close to a good center as there is. He actually has offensive moves, Dwight Howard still has zero.

And whoever is dogging Wilbon for sticking up for Magic :45 points, 12 rebounds as a 21yr old rookie in the Finals. If you haven't followed basketball then don't argue about things you know nothing about. Magic would dominate the NBA today without question, and he wouldn't have to take a single shot to do so. Have some respect for great players, and if you don't educate your self before making stupid comments about issues you know nothing about.

Posted by: langdon1975 | June 18, 2010 2:08 PM
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Derek Fisher has five rings.

Posted by: mecasey1 | June 18, 2010 2:02 PM
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I understand what your saying wilbon. Am 22 yrs old, I've been a kobe bryant fan since I was 11. I never was a big M.J fan but my elders were. Kobe is a player of my Generation, your right I can’t say that he’s better than M.J simply because i never use to watch him that much, I was to young. But I also believe that he belongs on top with the M.J's, & Magic's. Only for the simple facts that he is playing around with you guys (the media). You guys don't know where to put him.

Look when the season started they said that lebron was the best player in the game. And when he finally reached the finals and won all of a sudden he became the best player again. Same story for last year. You guys been comparing him with Michael not just today but for years (a decade) now but you refuse to discus his legacy with Michael’s because he was the first. Yes the first, and everybody knows that no one can't replace the first no matter how successful they get, it’s like a unchangeable rule. I can't blame you man. You just have a deep respect for the ones that were there before and i respect that.

Unfortunately for you time goes by, things change. As human we all know that nothing is impossible. Common, David defeated goliath and now we got a black president who would dare say that 400 yrs ago.

Posted by: Flyross | June 18, 2010 1:55 PM
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Used to read you when I lived in D.C. And this is the first time reading you in over 10 years; you're still the best!

Posted by: Trattoria | June 18, 2010 1:47 PM
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If you read this article, you've read them all as far as Wilbon goes. Magic, Magic, Chicago, Michael, Magic, Chicago, OTA'S, NFL offseason, blah blah blah...............

Posted by: hessone | June 18, 2010 1:47 PM
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Ok, ok, I hear everybody talking what they feel about this article and how much they can't stand Wilbon for this piece. I personally like Kobe, along with Magic, Bird and Jordan. Now sitting here looking at you all get in your feelings about what Wilbon is saying, nobody has statistically or figuratively proven Wilbon's point of view wrong. Looking at this article, Wilbon has some very VALID points and you can do nothing but give props to the man for his studies.

Now I do have to say to lakesbballa3, man you must have been one of those dumb bball players, posting that paragraph that lacked any kind of a cohesiveness to the subject. This is an opinionated article and had nothing to do with whether or not he played in the NBA or not. Heck, half, if not all, of everyone on this blog probably hasn't played in the NBA. Difference is we all have eyes and if we love the game enough, we'd do our homework to make a sensible opinion, which obviously you didn't. Sorry pal, off to the drawing board you go!!!

Posted by: skinsfan202 | June 18, 2010 1:38 PM
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If Kobe Bryant wins one or even two more championships, he deserves to be put in the same category as any legendary player in the history of the NBA. Magic and Bird symbolize the creation of the Modern Era while Jordan symbolizes the creation of basketball as a World Wide Favorite second only to soccer. Kobe will symbolize the Mantel of Professional Sports period. In an era where kids specialize in one sport from the age of six, Kobe is that player. There are hundreds of kids that play the game as well as Magic, Bird, or Jordan but the era has changed. They were great in that era. The next generation watched, learned, and copied them. Jordan hit the training room hard for Detroit. Now every good NBA or even college player trains just as hard and harder. The level of competition has risen and athletes are more talented than ever. Could the Legends play today...yes. Would they be as successful The talent is too great these days. Historians are limited to history without playing a single game. Labron watched Kobe and the rest. Imagine what my kids generational player will look like in 10 years. WOW!!! Athletes know...

Posted by: jkirby1 | June 18, 2010 1:31 PM
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I love how columnists and commentators like Wilbon express their opinions as if they're fact. Wilbon states that Kobe is the best player in the game today as certainly as the earth rotates around the sun or that if you drop something, it'll hit the ground. I agree that Kobe is the best player in the game, but I don't hold it as a mathematical certainty. As much as I dislike LeBron, he's never had a supporting cast like Kobe enjoys and he carried the Cavs to the finals single-handedly a few seasons back. Dwight Howard can be in the discussion or DWade or Kevin Durant is coming into that category.

Posted by: randysbailin | June 18, 2010 1:25 PM
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I wish I had a nickel for every stupid article and discussion about the 'greatest ever'. Who cares? It's an argument that ultimately goes nowhere, purely a matter of opinion. If you want to talk about legacies, how about Bill Russell? Even if he played in Converse All Stars, which you can get at Target for about 25 bucks nowadays, he won 13 championships (college and pro) + a gold medal in 15 seasons. The Celtics did nothing before he arrived and fell off the map for several seasons after he retired. Those who automatically put Jordan as the greatest ever forget that he played for several seasons against Bird's Celtics and Magic's Lakers and the Bulls consistently lost to those teams. It wasn't until Bird and Magic's careers were effectively over that Jordan started to win championships. Am I saying that Bird/Magic were better than Jordan? Nope, but it's argument that never gets resolved.

Posted by: randysbailin | June 18, 2010 1:15 PM
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How about considering players in their own context? For example, one really could never compare Magic Johnson with Oscar Robertson. Different eras. Different circumstances. Kobe is one of the all-time greats. Period. That's it. All the other conversation is meaningless.

Posted by: linroy62 | June 18, 2010 1:12 PM
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Wilbon has been hating on Kobe since he was 1st compared to MJ. he knee caps his own argument saying nothing will change his opinion saying it doesn't matter if Kobe gets a 7th ring. Since when does accomplishment in an ongoing career not matter how a great player is ranked. Magic is my favorite player but his and Bird's individual legacies are the 2 most overhyped things in NBA history. They saved he league by force of personality and on court succcess but they always played with HOF talent in spades and other former Finals MVP's and allstars.

Kobe played with Shaq and now Gasol one a legend in Shaq and Gasol merely your run of the mill allstar forward. thats it.

Kobe plays both ends of the court Magic was dreadful on defense never played half the game with near the ferocity Kobe plays it.

Magic personally blew the 84 Finals had several mental hiccups that whole series and should never have been given the Finals MVP as a rookie when it was Kareem who carried the Lakers in the 80 Finals till he got hurt. He carried those lakers for 5 games Magic was just great in that one game. Kareem was 32,12 and 3 blocks good.

Kobe has carried the Lakers to the last 2 titles.

if he gets more titles and more Finals MVP's then his stature rises and he surpasses Magic which he has already done and challenges MJ.

But Mike that Toddlin Town Wilbon won't ever acknowledge it because Chicago MJ is always the standard in his mind. He's Wilbon's made man.

Mj struggled in NBA Finals closeout games in the Seattle series he went 5/19 with 5 to's. he shot 41% that series.

But MJ's Icon status overshadows what was his real career. He is legend but so is Kobe.

Kobe is a top 5 player right now and when its done much higher. Much much higher.

Posted by: jrwalkerivory | June 18, 2010 1:12 PM
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Kobe will never be better than Jordan. If he were, he should have had at least 7 titles by now. Instead, Kobe is 5 for 7 and Jordan will always be 6 for 6 in the Finals. To me, Kobe is just another glorified Robert Horry (With 7 rings) or Scottie Pippen (With 6 rings) who gather rings due to the talents around them and not due to their own uniqueness. I guess I am supporting Wilbon for once.

Posted by: JohnWWW | June 18, 2010 1:07 PM
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God Wilbon, you used to be so good at writing but now everytime I see your writing I can guarantee there is some reference to Magic every single time lol. My goodness is this Magic's column or Wilbon's?

Posted by: clos82 | June 18, 2010 1:05 PM
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A misguided column like this only diminishes you, not Kobe. Perhaps you've been spending too much time with the Laker hating folks at ESPN.

Kobe absolutely ranks in the pantheon of NBA greats. His unique, singular willpower, discipline, and knowledge of every aspect of the game makes him the greatest player of his generation, just as Jordan's propelled him to the top of his generation.

Once Kobe is inducted into the Hall of Fame, he will be recognized for what he is and your column will be deservedly long forgotten.

Posted by: rick699 | June 18, 2010 1:03 PM
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I'll consider Kobe in the same breath with Magic, when Kobe is forced to play center -- as Magic was in the 1980 finals -- and Kobe then scores 42 points, 15 rebounds and 7 assists, as Magic did in game 6.

Kobe wouldn't come close. But in all fairness, no on else in the history of the game would, either.

Magic is the greatest Laker, and maybe the greatest PLAYER ever, because he could play all five positions at all-pro level.

Posted by: loulor | June 18, 2010 12:58 PM
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wstclair = predictable moron

Posted by: hessone | June 18, 2010 12:51 PM
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I agree completely , and don't forget Wilt and Russell , I'll take Elgin Baylor and West over Kobe

Posted by: lgregory2 | June 18, 2010 12:48 PM
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Who cares about the Lakers?


I'm a Washington Wizards fan.

- Ray

Posted by: rmcazz | June 18, 2010 12:27 PM
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So don't read it then dumb a$$

Posted by: wstclair | June 18, 2010 12:44 PM
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Wilbon is a clown. Why don't you go away and write a book or something?

Posted by: DarkHelmet1983 | June 18, 2010 12:32 PM
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Thanks for the well timed comments Ray. I wish the Post would hire local reporters. Please!

Posted by: hessone | June 18, 2010 12:32 PM
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Who cares about the Lakers?


I'm a Washington Wizards fan.

- Ray

Posted by: rmcazz | June 18, 2010 12:27 PM
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"The newest entirely lazy thing in sports is simply counting championships and ranking a player accordingly."

"One of the biggest Olympic winners has to be Canada's Sidney Crosby, who at 22 years old has already won Olympic Gold, the World Championship and the Stanley Cup .... If this doesn't make Crosby the preeminent player in the world, I don't know what does."

Posted by: AndJuan | June 18, 2010 12:13 PM
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I second that!

Posted by: hessone | June 18, 2010 12:12 PM
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Michael Wilbon you have never played in the NBA or any sports league for that matter. The thing that you have to understand is that unless you actually played in the league or any sports team for that matter you have know idea of what it is like to play in that game. It is so easy for people who never played sports to criticize athletes but another thing for those people who criticized the athletes to actually play in the game with them.

Posted by: lakesbballa3 | June 18, 2010 12:08 PM
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You just had to reference Magic Johnson, and all things NBA past. Quit writing for christ sake and stay at the ESPN studio's.

Posted by: hessone | June 18, 2010 12:07 PM
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And maybe take Magic over Jordan? Even Magic would laugh at that.

Posted by: fushezzi | June 18, 2010 12:06 PM
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I think what seperates Kobe from magic and
especially Bird is that he's a factor on

Posted by: bwlewis1964 | June 18, 2010 12:05 PM
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gotta love Larry Bird in an after-thought.

Posted by: fushezzi | June 18, 2010 12:03 PM
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