Kobe Bryant is regarded by most as one of the greatest of all time. By some as one of the top 5 players in the history of the game. By a few maybe even as the greatest ever, even greater than Michael Jordan. Winning only one MVP award does damage plenty of theories regarding Kobe, but even that’s explainable.
Bryant has won five titles with the Los Angeles Lakers, so far playing sixteen season for the franchise. He is the leading scorer for the franchise and slowly making his way up the all-time rankings. No one will be surprised if Bryant stays around long enough to dethrone Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, less than 600 points shy of 30,000 points, averaging 28.1 points per game this season.
It’s possible to separate Bryant’s career into phases – The rookie years, his first three seasons in the league. The ‘Best 1-2 combo years’ alongside Shaquille O’Neal, as the Lakers made four NBA finals between 2000-2004, winning three consecutive titles. The ‘Without Shaq’ bad years, 2004-2008, or more specifically, until Pau Gasol came. The Lakers didn’t win immoderately, losing to the Boston Celtics in the 2008 NBA finals, but the foundations were set.
2008-2010 – Bryant wins two NBA titles back to back, finally winning one without Shaq and adding another one to finish above his former teammate and part time arch nemesis. Since then, it’s been Bryant trying a bit too hard on his own, with the Lakers trying to cope with a new reality, once again, in which they aren’t the best team in the NBA. They have been dealing with it rather fine this season, despite everything that’s happened in the preseason.
But Bryant probably made his most impressive run as a basketball player between May 2008 until winning the NBA title in 2009 after easily getting over the Orlando Magic in the 2009 NBA finals. Bryant began it in May 2008, finally winning his first MVP award, long overdue in the opinion of many. He did go on to lose against the Celtics in the NBA finals, with the entire Lakers team looking like quitters in the final game of the series.
Bryant played 82 games in 2007-2008, plus 21 in the postseason. He just went right on to lead the Redeem team to an Olympic Gold in Beijing, the United State’s first piece of Gold in international competition since the 2000 Olympics. Bryant went on to win the All-Star game MVP and a few months later winning the NBA title, while winning his first Finals MVP.
In 13 months, Bryant won almost every possible major award in the basketball world. Call it the Kobe-Slam. Michael Jordan did all that, without the All-Star MVP, in one season. Title, MVPs and Olympic Gold. He won the MVPs and title a year earlier as well, probably making it a bit more impressive.
Bryant is currently sitting out the final Lakers games, but it seems their not doing too bad without him. Either way, he’ll be back for the playoffs, healthy or not. He wants that one thing Michael Jordan has – That sixth ring.