The trouble with Kobe. An Appology

Bergs

funky and cold
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Jul 22, 2005
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I'm baffled that anyone can consider him better than Duncan, whose career nearly overlapped entirely with Kobe's. I get why Kobe would be more popular (played a more entertaining style, with the Lakers) but in terms of who was better, it wasn't that close. By the time the gap started closing between the two, Lebron was far and away the best player in the league:

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He'll take an unfair hit because he was never a super efficient offensive player (and he mostly played in an era in which there were very few truly efficient high volume scorers), but Kobe was Derek Jeter levels of overrated defensively. 12 all-defense teams was insane for him.
Plot Paul Pierce on that for a laugh.
 

Kliq

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He won an MVP, so there's a very good case to be made that a lot of people considered him the best that year. But he was never the general consensus “obvious best” the way that, say, Jordan and Lebron were at points in their careers, and there's only about a 3 year window (the seasons starting 2005–2007) when he was even really in the discussion for (non-obviously) best player.

c. 2002 I remember the Lakers were in a postseason game. They had been dominating early but got into foul trouble in the second half and things started tightening up. Bill Walton was commentating, and busted out some Walton-esque purple prose along the lines of “There's an enormous gulf, a wide chasm, an huge gap between the Lakers and every other team in the NBA, and right now that chasm is sitting on the bench.” He was referring to Shaq, who was in the middle of a 13 season streak of top-10 in the MVP voting (8 of them top-5), and was clearly considered the better player on those teams and up through 2004–2005, when Shaq was great in his first year with the Heat while Kobe struggled in his first year without Shaq and post-rape allegations (and lingering knee concerns).

And Duncan was better than Shaq.

By 2005, Lebron is on the scene; you can make a case for Kobe as the best player in one of the 2005–2007 years, but it's not an obvious consensus (Lebron, Garnett, Nowitski, Nash, and Duncan in some/all of those years, and Lebron was probably better than Kobe by a decent margin). And by 2008 if anyone was the consensus best, it was Lebron.
Kobe's legacy has been tremendously aided by the widespread praise of Kobe and Shaq as a dynamic duo of equals, winning three straight titles with one another. A lot of people (especially younger fans that were not old enough to really remember those seasons in real time) don't understand that Shaq was clearly and obviously the best player on the team and the Lakers only won those series because Shaq was an unstoppable, dominant force that obliterated his opponents (Shaq averaged 38-17 on 61% shooting in the 2000 Finals, 33-16 on 57% shooting in the 2001 Finals, matched up against Dikembe Mutombo, and 36-12 on 60% shooting in 2002). I think in addition to aiding Kobe's legacy, it has allowed people to downplay Shaq's legacy. He's still the last guy to back-to-back-to-back.
 

m0ckduck

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Interesting how DARKO for this era has:

1. Duncan as the consensus best player
2. KG as a close second to Duncan (DARKO loves KG)
3. Dirk and Shaq as weirdly comparable, with Shaq's peak a bit higher but Dirk's much longer. Do we commit a Moneyball-esque fallacy of attributing so much to Shaq based on his physical dominance - ?
4. Kobe far below these guys, more on the level of Paul Pierce as has been pointed out (brilliantly) earlier in this thread

79357
 

Euclis20

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A tremendous amount of Duncan's value was tied to his defense. It's kind of shocking that he never won DPOY, because there's a decent argument to be made that he is the best defensive player since Russell. His career was bookended with a couple of DPOY teammates (Robinson/Kawhi), but here are Spurs' defensive rankings for his career:

2nd, 1st, 2nd, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 1st, 1st, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 8th, 11th, 10th, 3rd, 3rd, 2nd, 1st.
 

SemperFidelisSox

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Bruce Bowen would also get a lot of the praise because he was a lock down defender who was guarding Lebron, Kobe, etc. Duncan’s defense got taken for granted by media.
 

HomeRunBaker

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It's interesting to note that from 2005-2007, the Lakers were 121-125 and didn't win any playoff series. When he wasn't playing alongside an all-NBA level center, his teams were the definition of average.
The Lakers started Chris Mihm, Lamar Odom, Smush Parker and Kwame Brown next to Kobe. Now I’m a LeBron guy and don’t have Kobe close to the LBJ/MJ 1/1a grouping but carrying that group to 45-wins is among the greatest individual efforts this league has seen. Discounting that as “definition of average” is a feather in his cap….that team doesn’t get out of the teen in the win total category without him.
 

Euclis20

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The Lakers started Chris Mihm, Lamar Odom, Smush Parker and Kwame Brown next to Kobe. Now I’m a LeBron guy and don’t have Kobe close to the LBJ/MJ 1/1a grouping but carrying that group to 45-wins is among the greatest individual efforts this league has seen. Discounting that as “definition of average” is a feather in his cap….that team doesn’t get out of the teen in the win total category without him.
It’s not really meant as a slight on him, it's just interesting that arguably his most highly regarded years (relative to the rest of the league) occurred not when he won 5 titles, but when his team was winning 34, 45 and 42 games and not getting out of the first round. Kudos to Kobe for dragging those teams to a .492 winning percentage.
 

Bergs

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It’s not really meant as a slight on him, it's just interesting that arguably his most highly regarded years (relative to the rest of the league) occurred not when he won 5 titles, but when his team was winning 34, 45 and 42 games and not getting out of the first round. Kudos to Kobe for dragging those teams to a .492 winning percentage.
Right. No one is saying Kobe Bryant wasn't fucking great at basketball. But he simply doesn't belong in a serious top 5 all-time conversation. He's barely top 5 in his own era.
 

HomeRunBaker

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It’s not really meant as a slight on him, it's just interesting that arguably his most highly regarded years (relative to the rest of the league) occurred not when he won 5 titles, but when his team was winning 34, 45 and 42 games and not getting out of the first round. Kudos to Kobe for dragging those teams to a .492 winning percentage.
I mean it’s not only Kobe. Doc is HOF head coach and his best job, and I’d argue one of the best of all-time, was getting his Orlando team in his first season to a .500 record. Never has anyone been named Coach of the Year with a .500 record….it’s the same with Kobe that one year. That isn’t anything to shrug off.
 

Brand Name

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I had this conversation with people elsewhere because all time greats came up from a 2K video being streamed.

The Kobe stans are the worst. I had the audacity to say I have him top 20, which is reasonable, and started Kobe was also benefiting from his circumstances far more than most, which I believe to be true from the city of LA, to Phil, Shaq, to say nothing of external matters, like hack jobs against Sacramento.

I get told simple ‘that’s what YOU think’ as if to imply I was the crazy one. I was given 0.0 counter arguments. My generation is the Kobe one and it absolutely sucks. Makes zero basketball specific sense. Has to be the same, but not sane, origins as the Luka POINTZ arguments.

Don’t get me started on the Mamba Mentality parlance in millennial hoops discourse at large. Just shows me so, so much that anyone who says that is only looking out for himself but really treats women as second class. I will think less of a person who says it unironically. It is genuinely misogynistic but this is never thought because GIRL DAD! and TRAGIC DEATH!. Absurd. Those two counterarguments are completely irrelevant and did not apply to when and how it was coined by Bryant.
 

Montana Fan

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Y’know, half of the reason Kobe was respected as a player is because he was a truly great athlete. I’m sure someone will quantify him as not the greatest athlete of his era but that’s the way I viewed him and think his athleticism translated to why kids wanted to be like him. And by best athlete of his era, I mean across US sports.
 

Bergs

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Y’know, half of the reason Kobe was respected as a player is because he was a truly great athlete. I’m sure someone will quantify him as not the greatest athlete of his era but that’s the way I viewed him and think his athleticism translated to why kids wanted to be like him. And by best athlete of his era, I mean across US sports.
Nah. The next generation wanted "their" Jordan, and ironically enough, they 100% got him.
 
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Auger34

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Nah. The next generation wanted "their" Jordan, and ironically enough, they 100% got him.
Yeah, I tend to side with this line of thinking more. Kobe is Jordan Lite. He was basically cosplaying as Jordan his whole career.

But it is funny that @Montana Fan isnsaying he was the best athlete of his time because I saw a Gilbert Arenas video where he argued that Kobe is the best ever because he was NOT an athlete and had to work for everything. I definitely think Montana is way closer to the mark than Agent 0. The next intelligent thing Gilbert says will be the first
 

InstaFace

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Kobe was a great athlete, and a very very good basketball player. But there are a lot of great athletes in the league, or who don't even make it into the league. It seems like a red herring.

The haters here, myself among them, just argue that (1) he wasn't close to being the best basketball player of his generation, and the talk of him being among the greatest of all time is an absolute pile of shit, and (2) furthermore he was an incredibly shitty human being and shitty teammate, and every real fan of basketball ought to be reminding his half-wit stans of that fact at every opportunity. Neither of those points require saying that he wasn't a great athlete, or even that he wasn't a great NBA player.

We're over here saying Thomas Edison was a self-aggrandizing thief of both ideas and the contributions of his own partners, and while he was a good cutthroat businessman he wasn't all that great as an individual inventor. And Montana's replying and saying "yeah but a lot of his legend and mythos is from the whole 99%-perspiration quote, and the fact that he was good at building businesses built on new tech", and people are going "THAT'S JUST THE THING, THE ONLY THING HE WORKED HARD AT WAS STEALING IDEAS". It's the overhype that we have a problem with in the first place, and focusing on "well he was actually good at this other thing" kinda misses the point. People are out there still lionizing Edison, while his Value Over Replacement Polymath was like 1/10th that of (say) Buckminster Fuller, and that sucks.
 

NomarsFool

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I'd be curious what the distribution of work ethic is amongst NBA players who have any success at all. Being an NBA player is hard. I'm kind of skeptical there are that many players who just show up before gametime and go out and play well. I would think all of them are working pretty hard at their games, or they wouldn't really last long.
 

Smokey Joe

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I'd be curious what the distribution of work ethic is amongst NBA players who have any success at all. Being an NBA player is hard. I'm kind of skeptical there are that many players who just show up before gametime and go out and play well. I would think all of them are working pretty hard at their games, or they wouldn't really last long.
Who is this forum named for again?
 

HomeRunBaker

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Who is this forum named for again?
That is the Blount most often remembered post-MLE contract. One of his greatest attributes from when he avg 3ppg at Pitt to bouncing around the minor leagues, to taking advantage of his opportunities in Boston was his work ethic. The poster boy for how money changes people.