Another ring... another Finals MVP.... another year of constant back and fourth arguments regarding his place amongst the leagues greatest for Kobe Bryant. Some say he's the next Jordan, where others argue that he has a lot to do before he can even be considered the heir apperant "G.O.A.T." of the NBA. I was a believer in the latter, that he had more to prove in order to overtake my childhood idol, Michael Jordan, as the greatest NBA player of all time. But that argument was just tossed into the air and I'm waiting on it to hit the ground at any moment now. Many may argue that even Michael Jordan isn't the league's Greatest, then they'll ramble a bunch of big men who played amongst midgets in the league's adolescent years. Like a Wilt Chamberlin, who was 7'1'', back in 1959 where the average player was 6'2''. So that means that on a nightly basis he dominated simply because he was much bigger than everyone, not because he was an immense athlete or greatly skilled with the basketball. All he had to do was turn and shoot. And no disrespect to those big man greats from the past like Chamberlin, but the level of competition wasn't as high as it is now. Therefore I have to consider Jordan the greatest because of his position, and his dominance at that position in an era that saw some of the greatest athletes and some of the most physical games ever played.
Now Kobe is creeping up the list of greats fast, after last nights "gutsy" performance. I use the term "gutsy" for several reasons: 1) he was an abismal 5/20 heading into the fourth and 2) He was actually elbowed in the stomach a couple of times causing him to wince in disgust while the nation watched in anticipation of what was next to come. I was cheering on Boston to put the pedal to the medal and take they game while they had it, but I forgot that Kobe Bryant is as stubborn as they come; and he wasn't gonna let the Celtics "do it again". So he dug deep and grabbed 15 crucial rebounds, scored 23 points (11-15 FT's) and clinched his 2nd "solo" title. Now Laker haters, or even Kobe haters will argue that he wouldn't have done so without Gasol, and I whole heartedly agree with them. BUT, every star needs a sidekick in order to win that ultimate goal. If you go back in history, and do your research, there's a team of good players, or a tandem of great players that were able to win, and win again. Bird and McHale, Magic and Wilt, Jordan and Pippen, Shaq and Kobe, and now Kobe and Pau. As long as those two are on the same team, the Lakers will be there, so "Laker Haters" better get used to it.
Kobe knows how to win, and knows who he needs in order to do that. That's the difference between he and say a Lebron James, or even a Carmelo Anthony. He knows Phil can coach em up, so he put the organization at a stand still until they brought Phil back. Then he knew he needed a big man so he demanded a trade and the Lakers pulled Pau Gasol out of their ass. He knew the necessary formula for ultimate victory. And as much as it pains me to say, LeBron better pay attention and make the right choice this summer before he ends up like Charles Barkley, a great player with no titles. But just for the record I believe Lebron IS better, but Kobe is greater.... for now at least.
So with all that debate, Kobe is greatness now. Not good, not just a scorer, but great. He's entered the conversation of Greatest of All Time, where his place in it is, is up for debate. Jordan's shadow remains mountainous to everyone in the league. Not just cause he three-peated twice, or that he was league MVP 5x's, or even that he led his team to the best record the league has ever seen. It's his charisma, his defiance, dominance, and passion for the game that led him to the front of the class. Now all Kobe has to do is win a couple more MVP's (regular season and Finals), win Defensive player of the year, and break that 82-10 mark and he'll have my vote as the G.O.A.T.. Until then, I'll humbly say good job Kobe, you did it. You've earned more than another championship, you've earned my respect....