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Twenty Players Better than Kobe

I can't help myself. Perhaps it's the 2009 playoffs; perhaps it's the Lakers fans I sat next to at the Pepsi Center while I watched the Nuggets lose game four of the 2012 NBA playoffs. Regardless, I just cannot believe the hype Kobe gets. I inadvertently got an infographic trending among my followers that compared Kobe to MJ (no, I won't be linking to it), and that's absurd. Kobe would have a hard time being a top three Laker of all-time, let alone a top three player in NBA history. With that, I set out on a challenge: could I name 20+ players who had better careers than Kobe? Of course I could. Here are the metrics I used:

Wins Produced (of course!) - An all-encompassing boxscore stat to estimate player productivity? Best on the market!

Career above average wins - I looked at players' career win totals. However, I only counted seasons where the players had over 1000 minutes and played above average (WP48 > 0.100) I'm interested in players that had long careers, but less interested in their tailing off years and/or injured seasons.

Brocato Prime Wins - I looked at the six best seasons of each player's career. Why six seasons? Because the average NBA career is around six seasons long. This gets us the player at their peak, which can be filtered out by players with long careers (like Kobe) The Brocato method also handles any gaps due to injury, or seasons where the player was just "off".

Arbitrary Fan Stats - I wanted to make sure I had some popular backing to justify my claim. So here were the arbitrary criteria I used:

  • Player won an MVP OR
  • Player won multiple Defensive Player of the Year Awards OR
  • Player made it to multiple finals and won at least one OR
  • Player leads the NBA as an all-time leader in a stat

Yes, this did mean I left out some players who I think were/are easily better than Kobe (Chris Paul and Shawn Marion, for instance), but this means that I at have at least one casual fan "reason" to use. For instance, I got crap for saying Nash is better than Kobe. But it's worth noting that Nash has two MVPs to Kobe's one, so there's at least a popular leg to stand on. And of course, using only stats from the "complete boxscore era" means I'm leaving off historic players like Wilt and Russell. But I'm fine with that, as I still easily found twenty names.

The Winners Are...

I am just going to list the winners in order. All players that had a higher Brocato Prime than Kobe had more career wins (in above average seasons) than Kobe, and also met one of my arbitrary fan criteria. I was able to find 26 names. Here they are listed in order of Brocato Prime (With such a plethora of stats, I'm leaving the list clean. Feel free to add stats in the comments):

  • Charles Barkley
  • Magic Johnson
  • Michael Jordan
  • John Stockton
  • Dennis Rodman
  • David Robinson
  • LeBron James
  • Larry Bird
  • Ben Wallace
  • Kevin Garnett
  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
  • Dikembe Mutombo
  • Jason Kidd
  • Clyde Drexler
  • Moses Malone
  • Shaquille O'Neal
  • Dwight Howard
  • Hakeem Olajuwon
  • Scottie Pippen
  • Tim Duncan
  • Steve Nash
  • Karl Malone
  • Horace Grant
  • Maurice Cheeks
  • Robert Parish
  • Gary Payton

Yes, each of these players had a career I'd take over Kobe's. Some of their careers are still going. And there are a few active players who will make this list soon (why hello there, Mr. Durant). Now, the truth is that many of these names won't shock anyone. Placing Magic or MJ above Kobe is usually at least met with "I can see your point". But there are a few reasons some other names on the list don't get the same respect, so I figured I'd run them down.

Count the Rings

Offenders: Charles Barkley, John Stockton, Steve Nash, Karl Malone

It's really hard to win a title. Now, that's not to say that once you have a title team, it's unlikely you'll repeat, but getting that team together is rough in a league with a draft, restricted free agency, and a salary cap. For instance, MJ and Kobe were drafted to teams that got them surrounded by talent (although not as quickly as you'd think for MJ), whereas Charles Barkley was put a on a team whose stars were fading.

Luck can effect you too. In the 1993 Finals Charles Barkley's teammate, Cedric Cellabos, went down with an injury right before the finals. The Suns outscored the Bulls, but still came away empty handed. Steve Nash got unlucky when Amaré decided to hop off the bench and get suspended for a key playoff game. Karl Malone forgot how to shoot free throws in the finals.

In short, getting a ring is often used a barometer of success. And this can ding multi-MVP winners and some of the greatest NBA players of all time in some people's minds.

Yay! Points!

Offenders: Dennis Rodman, Ben Wallace, Dikembe Mutombo, Jason Kidd, Steve Nash, Maurice Cheeks, Gary Payton

Basketball is a multi-faceted game. It's about more than just scoring, and oh yeah, defense is really important. These things are repeated over and over to me on Twitter. And yet this logic often goes out the window when someone argues that Kobe is better than another player. Take Jason Kidd for instance. In 2002-2003, he was able to put up almost 19 points a game. He also dished out 9 dimes, pulled down 6.3 boards, and averaged 2.2 steals a game. Kidd was almost a team by himself! But the fact that his points don't crack 20 a game, and his assists sometimes fall short of 10 a game, instead of looking holistically at Jason Kidd, people just say "Hey! He's not on Kobe's level!"

Super great defenders like Rodman, Wallace, and Mutombo definitely get snubbed because their stats aren't as sexy. Yet, if the "defense matters" crowd is serious, how the heck are the players who combined for 11 Defensive Player of the Year Awards not in major consideration for all-time status?

Pippen Syndrome

Offenders: John Stockton, Dennis Rodman, Clyde Drexler, Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant, Maurice Cheeks, Robert Parish

When great players play beside other great players, it's sometimes hard to notice how good they are themselves. For instance, Michael Jordan was great, but he needed a lot of help to get to 72 wins. Jordan racked up 2 MVPs and 3 Finals MVPs during the greatest threepeat in the history of the NBA. But Pippen and Rodman definitely didn't get the same love. And while Pippen does get some respect, the honest truth is that until this guy named LeBron came along, an astute fan could make the argument that Pippen was neck and neck with Bird in the race for the greatest small forward ever (that's right, I said it Arturo!)

Robert Parish, who will show up again shortly, definitely got hit by this too. No one could believe I'd take Parish over Kobe. The 1986 Celtics are considered by some to be the greatest single season team ever. Parish was a 16 point, 10 rebound player that season, and it was a down year for him. From 1982-1985 Parish was a 20-10 machine on a team that also had Bird and McHale. Playing next to an all-time great hurts your overall stock. On most teams Parish would have been a legend, never to be forgotten. On the Celtics, he's an afterthought behind Bird.

Market Forces

Offenders: Any player from the 80s, Kevin Garnett, Robert Parish

Here's the thing, the NBA wasn't always as popular. Part of Michael Jordan's dominance of the NBA landscape has to do with the fact that his peak coincided with the NBA's reach. Magic Johnson reached the NBA finals as a rookie as a point guard. He then swapped in for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the reigning MVP and a center, to win the NBA finals MVP! Oh yeah, the game was played on tape delay.

Moses Malone was a three time MVP, and part of the famous "fo-fo-fo" 76ers. Yet I seldom even hear him mentioned as an all-time great.

Ironically the booming popularity hurt Robert Parish. As I mentioned above, he was a key member of one of the greatest dynasties ever. Parish was the ultimate iron-man, playing the most games of any NBA player. That means that, to many, he's that role player from the 90s who played next to Jordan, and not that force of nature from the 80s.

And bringing this back to Kobe, he definitely benefits from being in the largest NBA market of all-time. Playing in Los Angeles and having international reach has definitely spread his name a lot more than someone like Kevin Garnett, who wallowed in obscurity up north for most of his career (Editor's note: at just under 45°N, Minneapolis is hardly what I'd consider "up north". Maybe that's just me though).

Summing Up

Kobe probably ranks a little lower than 26 in my book. That said, he is definitely a top 100 player, and he's easily a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer. Remember, I'm making the claim that Kobe is "overrated", not "bad". Kobe has a big place in NBA history and has had a very impressive career. It's just not one of the top twenty careers in NBA history, and hopefully that's not too shocking!

just a minor correction russell was the first 3 time regular season mvp
Call it "Jay-Z syndrome": In any subjective evaluation, the number of people who will be fooled by someone acting like they're the greatest of all time is larger than the number who can independent evaluate greatness on its own merits and see through their bullshit.

Kobe isn't one of the 5 greatest basketball players ever, but he's one of the 5 greatest "acting like he's the greatest basketball player" people ever.
Iceman,
Thanks, that's been fixed.

Mtsw,
Oooh, good one! Also, I can't fault Kobe or any player too much for doing that. His very livelihood depends on being valued highly. If he says "I'm better than MJ!" and his team agrees, only means he'll get more BS contracts.
I'd be legitimately interested to hear why you think Shawn Marion is easily better than Kobe.
Great post. But you're falling for the myth that the NBA was tape delayed in the 1970s, and not tape delayed in the 1980s, because of popularity changes. It was chiefly because the NBA moved the Finals out of the May sweeps period. I have a post coming out on WoW about it.
I always have thought that Kobe was in the Ray Allen/Tracy McGrady/Reggie Miller grouping of SGs. But I would take Ray and Reggie over him just cause I value shooting efficiency. Him and T-mac are very close in production but I would take Tracy, he had a more all around game but had injury problems. Never thought Kobe was in the same locker room as MJ.
This has to be the worst article I've read!

You must be a bitter Nuggets fan
2008
2009
2012
playoffs?
But Kobe was the sidekick right? LOL NO!

2008 PPG vs nuggets in playoffs : 33 5 and 4
2009 PPG vs nuggets in playoffs : 34 5 and 5
2010PGG vs nuggets in playoffs : 29 4 and 5

20 players better CAREER then kobe?
Nah

Top Ten All Time
MJ
Kareem
Wilt
Magic
Larry
Lebron
Kobe
Duncan
Shaq
Hakeem

When the Kobe trolls come out and start trashing you, that's like the ultimate validation.

If you just go through life at every major decision point and ask "What would the average Kobe fan do here?" and then do the opposite, that's probably not a bad heuristic for success.
Ok so most of your list is argueable except Horace Grant, Cheeks, and Rodman. You use the Pippen syndrom to explain how they have had better careers then Kobe. This is flawed simply because Pippen like you said could have been the greatest SF ever until Lebron so now if anything top 3 and probrably top 5 once KD is finished. Not only was Pippen that good he was the 2nd best on the bulls not the 3rd the 2nd.
Horace grant was the 3rd best on the Bulls and the 3rd or 4th best on the Magic. Not to forget that Shaq was the other big man on the Magic demanding double teams and constant help defense making it easier for Grant to put up the numbers he did which were pretty impressive (above .500 fg % career). Not only that but Shaq also needed to be guarded by the better low post defended allowing Grant to work the other big man. The other bigman was tasked with guarding Grant a great PF (in his own right) as well as playing help defense on perhaps the most dominant Center of all time Shaq.
Now Cheeks seriously come on the guy barely broke 7 assists a game most of his career it was under 7 except 81-82 where he had 8.4 compared to the other PGs on this list he is a joke and he even shot over 50 percent but was lucky if he had more then 12pts a game then again he was great on defense averageing over 2 steals a game but come on you know you would take more risks if you had Dr J and Moses Malone to play help D if you got beat going for the steal so this stats inflated and less meaningful. And again he was the 3rd best while on a team with DrJ and Moses Malone.
Rodman was trully one of the greatest rebounders of all time. But was also the 3rd best on a team with the like of Jordan and Pippen and maybe the 4th best on the Pistons behind at least Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars.
To argue Pippen syndrom on these 3 guys is a disgrace to Scotty and even to Kobe who experienced real Pippen syndrom when he played 2nd best next to Shaq.
Overall though good list except these 3 and argueably Ben Wallace and Parish.
I totally agree with you, great article. But may I ask you to say some words about The Truth and Sugar Ray? Because it's interesting,they've got fan base, great seasons together.
By the way, Kobe is a decent scorer(shoots too much, but that's ok), but as you mentioned, basketball is more than buckets. An you really need that type of guy on a winning team, that really helps.
good article
firstly, shoutout to mr "kobe is top ten all time because i say so, here's my supporting evidence consisting of stats from a few playoff series"

secondly, and i love this metric, but let's all take time to note that the top player of all time in the brocato prime is sir charles. ahead of magic, ahead of michael. nobody put together a career with six seasons better than chuck's top six, and that's pretty damned impressive. probably the most criminally underrated superstar of all time; one could easily make the case for him as the GOAT 4, while he was the same height as jordan. pretty cool so see how dominant he was.
billfred,

About this line:
"You use the Pippen syndrom to explain how they have had better careers then Kobe."

Dre actually isn't using the Pippen Syndrome, or any of these other reasons like Market Forces, to justify his list, the list is based solely on numbers (wins produced, Brocato prime wins etc). It is instead why he thinks that conventional wisdom thinkers are ignoring the numbers.

KobeBryant actually hurts his cause by bringing up players like Wilt that didn't get mentioned in the article above - we can speculate that players like him would move above Kobe if all the stats were kept during that era.
I don't think it takes a lot of "speculation" to think that Wilt, Russell, Oscar Robertson, and probably quite a few others would rank above Kobe. Or for that matter, that they DO rank above him.

My question is, is there any period longer than a season or two, where Kobe was actually clearly the best SG in the game? Not player, shooting guard. McGrady was a match for a few years, later, Wade and others, and probably Vince Carter for a little while. He was very good for a very long time, which is impressive, but . . . .
You missed two related syndromes:

1) Compared to the "unequivocal" best at a position. Kidd, Stockton and Nash suffer in comparison to Magic. All centers not named Wilt or Russ (or maybe Kareem) suffer in comparison to Wilt, Russ & Kareem.

2) Centers are undervalued. It will always be a big man's game and a great big man is better than (almost) any other great player. Its not actually a surprise that the 10th (or 15th) best center of all time would be better than the second or third (or in Kobe's case 5th or more) best SG. Short as his career was (because careers were short then), it wouldn't surprise me if Mikan wasn't better than Kobe.

That would make Kobe no better than 7th on the Lakers all-timers behind Magic, Kareem, Wilt, Shaq, West & Mikan.

And, where's the love for AD?
Why are you comparing player's stats over different eras and rulesets? Seems like an exercise in futility or clickbait, but I suspect the latter.
A skilled scorer who constantly makes impossible-looking shots and make defenders look helpless will probably be on the side of overrated compared to his efficiency. Kobe is one, Iverson is another and while not mentioned often, Olajuwon is a good example of such player too.
You can keep moving Kobe down that all-time Lakers list, without a ton of effort. Baylor was unquestionably better. Vern Mikkelsen was probably better. So now he's 9th. We'll steer clear of players who were better, but not Lakers long enough--that's a hell of a list, too. Let's not even start on all the guys who were more productive, but had less multifaceted game. We'll just pretend that's really important, and move on.

Better question: Is he the greatest Laker locker room cancer ever? That's a tall order. Wilt didn't listen to coaches much, either; Cazzie Russell once practiced with pockets overflowing with golf tees; Spencer Haywood MAY have tried to put a hit on Paul Westhead; it's select company. None of those guys, however, were so awful to play with that free agents the team wanted to retain CHOSE to leave for places like Houston and Charlotte. Holy shit!

When Stan Musial died, MLB Network's Brian Kenny made the case that, when you factor in EVERYTHING--production, consistency, durability, clubhouse presence, attitude, and citizenship are amongst the factors he cited--Musial might have been the most valuable player ever. If we frame the case for Kobe that way, I submit he might be the least valuable great player in NBA history.

I left out merchandising--on purpose. It's the Lakers; if they're winning, they sell jerseys. They could have drafted Nash instead of Kobe, kept Eddie Jones for 8 or 10 more years, and kept Shaq until the end of his productivity. Could they have done better than 5 titles in that time? I say yes.

Sorry to go on so long. To all the Kobe fans who hate this, I'll leave my response in advance: Screw you. I'm a LAKER fan.
You know, its funny. I just wrote an article myself on how Kobe is overrated a few days ago: http://www.blueisme.com/?p=3039

Anyways, I totally agree with your points. Kobe is incredibly over-rated and neither his stats nor his efficiency can back up his so-called "greatness". Looking at a player who is left out of conversations because he peaked in the dark era, look at Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He's got 6 rings, 6 MVPs, amazing stats - why is he forgotten by the general public? Because he peaked during the 1970s, when the NBA was not that visible. Magic and Kareem are the greatest Lakers, period, and leagues above Kobe. Heck, even Jerry West could be considered better than Kobe.
xitongzou,
http://www.cracked.com/podcast/why-3-total-strangers-invented-harry-potter-at-same-time/ - Wow must just be another one of those "time is right for these type of post" things. This post has actually been "chilling" in the BSG cooler. I wrote it a bit ago, but obviously it's not as timely as some of our other posts.

Nice post! I'd use EFG over FG%. It will make Kobe a bit better compared to some historical players you note, but that's because unlike them he had the three. And yeah, any MJ to Kobe comparison is ludicrous. I won't say MJ's titles were *all* MJ. But that's diff. MJ was on superstar squad w/ Pippen + Rodman and they had the most dominant stretch ever.
Kobe has long been overrated because of his style of play. The fact that he makes impossible-looking shots better than most other players doesn't outweigh the fact that he keeps taking impossible-looking shots.

That being said, I'd have to see the Horace Grant and Maurice Cheeks stats. I remember them as good but not great players, and not clearly better than Kobe.
One weird reason of the huge Bryant overrating is the following line of "reasoning" 1- MJ is without doubt the GOAT 2- Kobe is the player the most similar to MJ and won 5 titles, so he's almost as good as MJ and 2nd best ever. (Of course 2- is nonsense, I don't agree with 1- either, in particular with the "without doubt" part)
This is preposterous, fantastical! Here are the only stats you need to know Kobe is the GOAT:

Points scored against the Raptors in a single game on January 22, 2006: 81
Rings: 5 (should be more - his teammates let him down imho)
Golden heart of a true champion: 1, but that's plenty-he's not a Time Lord

Besides, who should I believe, some blogger or all the smart evaluators of basketball talent who have given Kobe endorsement deals? I don't remember Mo Cheeks saying "I'm lovin' it!"

Here's the real top 10, for all the Laker Haters too blind to see:

Kobe
Kobe
Kobe
Kobe
Kobe
MJ (the pre-Kobe)
Kobe
Kobe
Future Kobe Klone?
Kobe



I think in all fairness, it needs to be pointed out that Kobe has not proclaimed himself to be the greatest at any point - not as a Laker (he consistently concedes that to Magic when asked about it), and not in the NBA All-time list (he has clearly spoken about Jordan, Magic, Bird being the "holy trinity" of players as it were). Kobe's overratedness is media-manufactured because he is a polarizing player to discuss and generates discussion. He is just good enough to be debated about, but not good enough that people will unanimously agree on his accomplishments.

However, its sad that any and all of his accomplishments are devalued (especially judging by some of the comments in response to this article) because of either bias towards his attitude off the court from his younger days (assault case, strange loner, etc.), or because he shot a lot trying to step away from Shaq's shadow.

I think Kobe needs to be examined for the unique player he has been, rather than trying to fit him in to any type of archetype we have come to expect from players like Jordan/Lebron, etc. Unlike the Jordans and Lebrons, he was not handed the keys to a franchise. In retrospect, it is remarkable that he could transform himself from a role player on a stacked Lakers team, to a sidekick on title teams, to the main guy on two more title teams. At the same time, he has amassed 17 playing seasons in the league (15 of which have been elite), and holds a bunch of different scoring records because, he is, by his own admission, a scorer.

Does he make players around him better? Maybe not early in his career, but he managed to get the most out of Pau/Shannon Brown/Trevor Ariza/Andrew Bynum/Farmar/Vujacic, enough to win two titles with that group despite having only one All-Star in that pack with him (Pau). It is unfair to take away all of his accomplishments from him as a player because statistics say that Ben Wallace had higher win shares in his best six seasons, without fully considering context of Wallace's severe limitations as a player.
My favorite part of these arguments is always when it comes down to "intangibles."
Apparently Kobe has never had off-the-court issues which have been a distraction to his team.
Apparently Kobe has never had on-the-court issues which have been a distraction to his team.
Apparently Kobe is a great teammate and leader that attracts players to LA.
Apparently Kobe isn't a "sellout" who is willing to put winning championships over making money.
Apparently Kobe has never publicly blasted his team and requested a trade on the Stephen A. Smith's radio show.
Apparently Kobe was leading his team to the playoffs and not to 1st round exits the years after Shaq left.

Meanwhile, public enemy #1 LeBron James gets blasted for not shaking hands with Orlando, having XVI on his mouth piece, raising $3million for the Boys and Girls Club, taking a huge paycut, and being such a nice teammate and person to be around that other players want to come to his team.
@Art - You're conveniently leaving out all of the other stuff that Lebron did to have people "hate" on him (I use that term loosely because media pundits fawned over him for most of his career).

A list which includes the following:

- He was not very self-aware early in his career (Chosen 1 tattoo, speaking in the third person to refer to himself), which led to people perceiving him as being arrogant
- He shied away from big moments early in his career and preferred to defer. This is an understood part of his game now that has been accepted, but back in the mid 2000s it was unheard of for a superstar; fans preferred the MJ/Kobe method
- He won the MVP in 2009 and 2010, and couldn't lead his team past the Magic and Celtics. The criticism of him coming up short was growing.
- The Decision debacle was literally the worst "decision" he could have made from a PR perspective. To spurn your hometown on national TV and expect everyone to be OK and understanding was incredibly naive.
- Wade was coming off an MVP caliber season and was seen by many fans to be the "Batman" to Lebron's Robin (falsely, as everyone found out). Teaming up with someone of your caliber and higher plus another franchise player in Bosh was and still is unheard of for an MVP player (akin to Durant leaving this year to join, say, the Clippers)
- Predicting 7 titles before you even win one is not endearing
- Making fun of Dirk Nowitzki for being sick and perpetuating that he is faking it during the Finals is not endearing
- Losing in the NBA Finals and COMPLETELY DISAPPEARING for an entire series despite being the best in the league is not endearing
- Telling people they need to go back to their pathetic lives after losing in the NBA Finals is not endearing

Lebron made a LOT of PR mistakes up until the 2011-2012 season. Lets not act as if he, like Kobe, didn't have his fair share of spills. Sure, he made not be an abrasive a**hole like Kobe is, but he had his own faults that made fans turn against him.
Jerry West
@Offthebackboard
Skip Bayless is that you?
OfftheBackBoard, what are you talking about?

Getting a loud tattoo and giving yourself a nickname is something LeBron shares with 95% of the NBA, yet strangely, only he was criticized for it.

If by "shied away from big moments", you mean he passed to the open-man, instead of launching a contested 20-footer, then yes, he shied away. Its long been understood that LeBron's statistical output in "clutch" time surpassed Kobe. Furthermore, Kobe and MJ aren't in the same clutch category. MJ took a lot of shots, and made a lot. Kobe took a lot, and missed a lot. There's a difference.

In the modern-era, only 6 players had won an MPV and Championship in the same year, before LeBron did it in 2012. Furthermore, the Cavs teams LeBron had were generally understood to be a steaming pile, and their playoff losses weren't due to LeBron's poor play.

That LeBron's decision would be broadcasted was known well in advance, and generated little buzz. Similarly, it was reported days in advance that he would probably leave the Cavs, and again, little controversy. It was only when LeBron said he was joining a super-team, did people suddenly have a problem, which they tried to shield by bring up nonsense like TV's and "hometowns", in an attempt to legitimize irrational hatred.

I agree that the formation of LeBron's super-team was jolting, but the dislike people had for it was silly. LeBron chose not to depend on luck to bring him great players (Kobe), and decided to make it happen himself. I don't see a problem with that.

Players frequently predict titles for their teams during the pre-season. The pep-rally was a little much, but again, it was one of those "problems" people had with LeBron, that was only brought up when he started to fall out of favor (loss to Mavs).

Making fun of Dirk was a boneheaded move, but if they had won, and especially if LeBron was the Finals MPV, nobody would have given a flying. But since LeBron lost, its now a thing.

Losing in the Finals, and the manor in which he lost, is the only legitimate "error" by LeBron on this list.

LeBron was 100% on the money with his post-game comments, and they needed to be heard by Meatballs (possibly like you), who will sensationalize trivial events, in order to justify childish hatred for an athlete.

LeBron has made relatively few mistakes in his career, whether it be on or off the court. Kobe's mistakes are gargantuan in comparison, and far more frequent.
@Skip Bayless

Sigh, just sigh. I'll ask you again (it is you Skip, right?) what Cuban asked you when he came on your show, what defense were the Mavs running? A 2-3 zone where they ALWAYS doubled Lebron. You are supposed to pass out of that situation EVERY time. Also if a player has ever taken a less talented team to the finals I'd like to know... who was his second fiddle on any of those teams? Big Z?

@ Kobe argument in general

Kobe is a pretty interesting player to me. I actually really dislike him personally and think that he did get away with a rape (poor girl getting all those death threats and then deciding not to continue with the case). That being said what is most frustrating about him is how close he was to actually being a top 10 player. I think some of the awards he got were bogus (what was the last year he truly played defense outside of the 2012 Olympics, 2002?) but he has a mostly amazing career. If he had cut out stupid shots (scoring drops by 5 a game but with 5-6 fewer shot attempts) and emphasized his spot-up shooting (which has consistently been incredible) he would be amazing. Instead he knew he would be judged on Yay! Points and emphasized that. Phil has talked about it more than once.
I'd be interested in understanding why Horace Grant is rated so highly. He had a few quite good years. But top 20 of all time (or whatever time period we're using here)? Huh.
Question for Dre: Would you put Pau Gasol on the list of Players Better Than Kobe?
I find it amusing that commenters have to resort to calling me "Skip Bayless" just because I disagreed on points made about Lebron. I have nothing but respect for Lebron, and see him as the best player in the league (a title he has held, IMO, since 2008). My points are to acknowledge the more negative aspects of Lebron's time in the league.

To address your points:

- Like I wrote in my original post, passing to the open man is a staple of Lebron's game, and it is what makes him Lebron. My point was that in the mid 2000s, fans and critics saw this as a weakness (when it wasn't) because of their perception of Kobe/MJ.

- Re: Kobe made/missed a lot - if you want a more accurate measure of statistics that determines Kobe’s level of clutch, look no further than the 82games.com, which determines clutchness with the definition of “4th quarter or overtime, less than 5 minutes left, neither team ahead by more than 5 points“. By this category, Kobe comes #2 in 2010, #2 in 2008, and #1 in 2009. His reputation as being unclutch was largely perpetuated by Henry Abbott's definition of clutch as being "24 seconds or less", which is a bit too narrow given that in most NBA games, clutchness is reflected by stopping momentum, making momentum-swinging shots, etc, as well.

- In retrospect, obvious Lebron made the right choice in joining the Heatles. My point, which I think you missed, was that it was one of the reasons people disliked him. No need to justify it.

- Re: pep rally - people had a problem with his 7 title prediction LONG before the Mavs loss. I think you have some rosy colored view of that time. Lebron was vilified that entire season for a) leaving Cleveland via the Decision and b) predicting 7 titles. People made fun of him for saying it after the Mavs loss, but people ragged on him about that all year whenever they struggled.

- Again, don't see why there is a need to call me a "meatball" or Skip Bayless just because I presented my views in a civilized manner. It seems as if you guys get just as passionate defending Lebron as you accuse those who defend Kobe.

- "who will sensationalize trivial events, in order to justify childish hatred for an athlete" - sounds familiar; pretty much sums up most of the comments on this board.

I get so tired of people talking about the decision. High School athletes do this on signing day and companies have press conferences for new products and announcements. So this is a none story.

People make predictions all the time. People talk trash. So Lebron, Wade, and Bosh making a 7 championship guarantee should have never been a story because its just talk. Blissful ignorance in the words of Brian Burke.

And making a deal about rings, playoff success, and being lucky in small crucial moments( i.e. clutch) is just idiotic.
@OffTheBackboard

Did you really just argue that Kobe is clutch by pointing us to crunch time stats...that rank players by points scored?

Everyone here knows that Kobe turns into a shameless chucker when the game is on the line; he is going to put on blinders and force up a shot, coverage be damned. The stats show that when you take more shots than anyone else, you score more points - they may not be good shots, but you make it up in volume!

Yaypoints?
I took the time to go back and look at the "clutch" stats. The stats are per 48 minutes of "clutch" time which, like offthebackboard stated, is 4th quarter or OT, less than 5 minutes left, and a 5-point game. The stats will be listed in this order: points/rebounds/assists/steals/blocks and then shooting fg/3pt/ft.

In 08-09:
Kobe: 57/8/6/1/0 46/40/92
LBJ: 56/14/13/3.5/1.7 56/42/85
Melo: 54/8/3/1.2/0 57/58/82
Wade: 49/5/9/3/5 47/28/73
CP3: 45/6/11/4/0 49/38/90

In 09-10
LBJ: 66/16/8/3/3 49/34/80
Kobe: 51/7/4/2/0 44/36/82
Dirk: 47/9/5/1/2 45/67/98 (!)
Melo: 47/10/2/2/0 43/14/87
Nash: 44/3/13/0/0 46/35/89

In 10-11:
Kobe: 50/9/8/2/0 40/35/87
Rose: 48/10/10/2/1 40/20/89
LBJ: 45/11/5/1/1 44/24/84
Monta: 44/4/4/3/0 48/44/81
KD: 44/12/2/1/2 41/29/83

These are just the 5 players listed according to their stats. My only point in listing these stats is that you can't simply rank the players listed by how they are organized on 82games.com.
@OffTheBackboard

I just called you Skip because all of your points were points that he has brought up. If you don't agree with an argument (a la Lebron's choice) you certainly never need to bring it up. Bringing it up and then saying "some people are saying this, not me necessarily" is basically you saying it. I always thought there were two semi-legitimate points people brought up: that he joined other stars and that in a few big games he didn't come through. Of course we have more examples of games where he did come through and when people focus you a team needs to be able to hit shots (almost all of his failures are due to teammates not hitting open shots when he gets double-teamed, the triangle under Phil would have helped a lot).

The other argument is just ludicrous because if you are not gifted with a top-notch GM you basically should jump ship to a better situation. I mean, most of the players we like to list as potential best ever also were on teams that some times get referred to as "HOF teams" for a reason: you win a lot in this league by being on a great team and you need a great GM to keep that up for multiple years.

I don't really know why one would bring up the not 2, not 3, not 4 comment when any reasonable observer watching realizing he was joking and playing with the crowd and his new teammates at a pep rally. I have never understood the claim that he made a mistake saying that and I never will because he really didn't mean it.

So to address your newer post in order:

1. Do YOU think this "staple of his game" is good or not? Because if you think taking a contested shot is better than taking an open shot I don't really even know where to begin the discussion. If you don't why wouldn't you mention that people saying that is foolish in your post? Also, MJ was NOT known for taking contested shots by anyone who actually understood the game. The triangle got him open shots all the time and people with short attention spans focused on a few shots at the end of games. Kobe IS known for taking dumb shots. Please do not conflate the game of those two players.

2. 82games.com does not include eFG% or TS%... ummm.... what? Counting most points scored in a time frame and not discussing potential points lost through dumb decisions is about as asinine as I could imagine.

3. If it is the right decision to join the "Heatles" in retrospect, why not just say he was an intelligent player who acted as his own GM when the GM of the team he was drafted to proved incompetent? I would view that as a better way of stating it (and by the way I actually think Barkley and Kareem made similar decisions, although it didn't work out for Barkley).

4. Already discussed this but if you can honestly watch that pep rally and believe that Lebron was giving a "7 title prediction" than I don't even know what to make of your ability to read another human being, it is pretty low though.

5. I am not even defending Lebron in this case, just intelligent thought. I called you Skip Bayless because you regurgitated the same ludicrous thoughts that he does. If Skip Bayless understood basketball at all he would be able to break down simple plays. He cannot and is most famous for insinuating that Troy Aikman was gay. He was a reporter in Dallas during the Cowboys high period and THAT was the extent of cutting edge sports journalism he was capable of. If you take the arguments from someone that incompetent and then come on a sports stats site of course people are going to mock you. Sorry if it offended you but please try to think more rationally in the future.

6. Yeah it would be bad for someone to base their comments off of sensationalizing trivial events. I'm glad we agree!

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