Kobe Bryant went over the 30,000 point plateau for a career, joining an exclusive club that had only four members until last Wednesday night. A club in which all other member’s were first ballot Hall of Famers before they retired. A club, in which, all members had played for the Los Angeles Lakers at one point in their career, except Jordan.
Names like Wilt Chamberlain (31,419), who is the only player ever to score 100 points in a single game. According to his autobiography, he also scored with over 30,000 women in his life (which is more impressive). Then you have Kareem Abdul-Jabbar who quite possibly had the greatest weapon ever, the “Sky Hook”. It was indefensible and after 20 seasons Kareem finished with, and still has, the most points in NBA history (38,387). Next is Karl Malone (36,928), who with his running mate of 18 years, John Stockton, perfected the “pick and roll”, in Utah.
Finally, there is Michael Jordan (32,292). He was always a scorer first. Then he was the most exciting dunker of the basketball ever. Then he added defense to his game and polished it all off with 6 NBA Titles.
Now that Kobe is in this rarified air, all the questions are resurfacing about where his place in NBA history is. Is he the greatest player of all time? Magic Johnson on national TV said he was the greatest Laker of all-time. This is high praise coming from a man who revolutionized his position. He was a 6-9 point guard with an uncanny vision of the court. He was a field general who was the ringmaster of “Showtime”. He won five titles in the ‘80’s. Having said that, I would have to agree with Magic’s assessment.
Now, when it comes to greatest player ever, he falls a little short. For my money, the greatest player I have ever seen is Michael Jordan. He could take over games at will. He made players around him better. Scottie Pippen would have never been in the Hall of Fame without Michael’s help. Had Jordan not retired from the NBA twice and played during those hiatus’s, he could have passed Kareem for first on the all-time scoring list. Also, if Jordan does not retire from the Bulls the first time, there is a good chance they could have won 8 titles in a row! Now, look at Kobe. He is a scoring machine; he is the youngest player to reach 30,000 points. He can take over games like Mike. He has 5 rings. Yet, by the numbers, he is not a better shooter than Michael (career 49.7% to 45.4%). So, will Kobe ever be considered better than his idol? I think if he stays healthy, plays long enough to be #1 in scoring all-time, wins another title or two, he will have a good chance.
Bottom Line: I feel in order to be considered the greatest; you have to be that guy. The one player that if you needed to win one game, that would be your man. For me that man is Michael Jordan.