By Harris Hicks
A championship is a desired team goal, but is it enough to define a players entire legacy? Absolutely not! Robert Horry has seven rings and Charles Barkley has zero rings, but does that make Robert Horry a better player than Charles Barkley? No way. You may think of Kobe as a five time Champion, an MVP, and a 12 time All-NBA Defender, but I am here to tell you why Kobe Bryant isn’t as legendary as you think he is.
In the 2000 NBA Finals, Kobe Bryant earned one out of his five rings by defeating the Indiana Pacers in six games. Because of that, Kobe Bryant was referred to as a champion, but people forget just how underachieving Kobe Bryant was in that finals. Kobe averaged just 15.6 points per game, 4.6 rebounds per game, 4.2 assists per game, 1.4 blocks per game, and 1.0 steals per game while shooting an underachieving 36.7% from the field. Despite that pathetic performance, people remember Kobe as a “champion”. A year later, in 2001, Kobe’s shooting woes continued as he shot a pitiful 41.5% from the field, but again he’s remembered as a “champion”. Bryant did play a great 2002 finals, but did the Lakers even deserve to be there remains in the question. People forget how rigged the 2002 Western Conference Finals was. Bryant’s poor shooting yet again didn’t help the Lakers as he shot below 42% yet again in the WCF. It was later known that former NBA official, Tim Donaghy confessed to betting on games in 2008, and filed allegations against the NBA saying that refs wanted to extend the series to seven games. His betting led to one sided officiating in the Lakers-Kings 2002 conference finals. Judging by the officiating, there is a strong case the Lakers shouldn’t even have played in the 2002 Finals against the New Jersey Nets. Despite that, the 2002 Los Angeles Lakers are remembered as “champions.”
Now lets look at the other side of this argument, in the 2011 NBA Finals, the Dallas Mavericks upset the Miami Heat in six games as Dirk Nowitzki got his revenge on Dwyane Wade. The 2011 Dwyane Wade will never be known as a champion, but he will be known as a great player who came up short of winning a championship. However, Wade had one of the most efficient NBA Finals in NBA History after averaging 26.5 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 5.2 APG, 1.5 SPG and BPG while shooting a fantastic 54.6% from the field. Despite that superstar performance, he wasn’t known as the NBA Champion of that year, and despite Kobe Bryant’s pathetic performances, he will be known as a three-time champion. This isn’t just an issue with rings, this is career awards in general.
In 2008, Kobe Bryant won a controversial MVP award over Chris Paul. Paul averaged 21.1 PPG, 11.6 APG, 4.0 RPG, 2.7 SPG and shot 49% from the field. Paul also led the entire NBA in total Win Shares and WS/48, his .284 WS/48 destroyed Kobe’s .208 WS/48. Kobe also shot a worse field goal percentage and Paul more than doubled Kobe’s assists per game. Despite Chris Paul having a way better season than Bryant, Kobe won the 2008 Most Valuable Player. Most people remember Kobe Bryant as one of the best defenders ever due to making twelve All-Defensive teams, but Kobe Bryant only reached top ten in defensive win shares one time in his entire career (2001), in which he barely made it being ranked 10th. But because the media voted him in without any statistics to back up his “Top Ten Defense”, the NBA universe remembers him as one of the best defenders to ever live. Bryant doesn’t have the all-time great advanced stats that you thought he’d have either. His player efficiency rating ranks 24th all time with a 22.9. His WS/48 was very lacking as he ranked outside the top 50 all time. What Kobe’s blind resume tells you is that he was a five time champion, an MVP and one of the best defenders to ever play, well I know that’s not the case. My point is, if you’re trying to rate Kobe as a top five, top ten or even top twenty player of all time because he was a “five time champion”, “MVP” or one of the best defenders ever, because the media voted him as that, think again.