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Opinion: Let's not forget about Kobe

Writer on Hubpages and Harvard School of Public Health Alumni

Analyst and media members often forget how good Kobe Bryant really was as a player

Fans who saw Kobe Bryant play remember how good the Mamba really was in his prime. However, Kobe is still one of the most underrated players in the history of the NBA.

If Kobe had played in a different era he would be considered the greatest NBA player. Shaquille O'Neal doesn't get lost as often in NBA history because he's mostly compared to other great centers. However, Kobe is still largely forgotten in Michael Jordan's shadow.

The NBA should consider naming the NBA All-Star game after Kobe. The Kobe Bryant All-Star weekend would be a perfect way to help make sure fans and players remember the Mamba. When people start watching the NBA or coming to the NBA, they first need a dose of respect for Kobe.

Before Lebron James entered the NBA, Kobe was my favorite player. Like a lot of sports fans, I was on the Kobe fan train. When I was younger, before Lebron won the Miami Heat Championship, I used to joke that Kobe could get a ring for the King. Lebron had great regard for Kobe as well. Lebron was once quoted as saying, "Kobe is the best player and best scorer in the league."

Kobe has always been wrong in the shadow of Jordan. Unfortunately, Kobe might potentially be a better basketball player than Jordan, but Jordan is certainly a better athlete. Jordan had the most effective midrange jump shot. He is easily considered to be the most natural gifted shooting guard ever.

Let's not forget that Jordan was physically talented. According to others, he had a hand size of 7'9'; Jordan's hands were also larger than Wilt Chamberlain's hands. Kobe, however, is still considered to be the most difficult shot-maker ever.

Marc Jackson, who played Jordan in his prime, was once quoted as saying, "Kobe Bryant will go down as the greatest basketball player of all time." Many felt that the only thing Jordan did better than Kobe was defense; Jordan was a better lockdown defender than Kobe.

John Salley who played with both Kobe and Jordan has a different take than most. Salley while being interview on the ON THE BEST DAMN SPORTS SHOW PERIOD by Chris Rose is quoted as saying:

"I played with both Kobe and Michael. I would have to say that Kobe Bryant is the better player. Kobe has a much better shot, handles the ball better, and just has more tricks to go along with his game."

The secret to understanding Kobe, however, is understanding his mentality. That's what makes Kobe a great player; that's the Mamba mentality. To quote Kobe directly, when asked what is the Mamba Mentality:

"It's all about focus. I don't care who you are, where you are from, Doesn't matter. It's having focus. And having a purpose. You wake up every single day to get better."

If you beat Kobe, it wasn't because you had a mental advantage or worked harder. It was because you were a better player. That was the only anti-venom to the Mamba's bite.

Dwight Howard later in his career is quoted as saying that he appreciated Kobe more now. Referring to a younger version of himself, Howard said: “I think that at that time, I was ignorant to the level that he was at.” I believe he was referring to Kobe’s competitive nature and how well he had mastered the game.

However, the Mamba mentality is not without its downsides. Famed analyst and former NBA player Tim Legler was once quoted as saying,

"Kobe Bryant may be better than Michael Jordan, but the public may not ever let him believe it. The unfortunate truth for Kobe is he can never be Michael because he isn't thought of as likable as Jordan, also the greatest commercial pitchman ever for an athlete. Let's say he does get six rings. Even if he doesn't win any more MVP awards, he will probably approach Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's all-time scoring record. You absolutely can make a valid argument for Kobe being the greatest ever when that happens. But he will never be revered like Michael Jordan will be revered."

A player that is offensively similar to Bryant is James Harden. I know that Harden had a similar scoring streaks as Kobe had in his career. However, I watched both of them. Kobe's was more impressive, to be honest. The only players to ever average 35 PPG more for the entire season are Kobe, Jordan, Chamberlain, Harden, and Rick Berry. However, the only players to play at least 80 games while averaging over 35 PPG are Chamberlain, Jordan and Kobe.

What separates Kobe’s season from Harden’s amazing scoring streak? Usage rate. Kobe had a much lower usage rate than Harden. Kobe’s usage rate was 36.1% for the 2005-06 season when he averaged 35.4 PPG and Harden’s was 40.5% last season.

Another difference is Kobe’s reliance on two-point shots and driving to the basket. Kobe averaged 20.7 2-point attempts per game in the 2005-06 season. Harden averaged just 11.3 2-point attempts last season. For Harden, approximately 40% of points last season came from three point shots and roughly 30% of his points from the free-throw line. For Kobe, approximately 56% of his points came from 2-pointers. And many of these were not fast breakpoints. It's more impressive for any shooting guard to be able to average 35 or more points per game depending on 2-pointers.

Compared to Harden, Kobe also had fewer free-throw attempts in the 2005-06 season, played more minutes, and was two years younger. Kobe also had an average of two fewer turnovers per game than Harden.

Kobe did not win the MVP in the 2005-06 season. He only came in second in the number of first-place votes. However, he finished fourth overall behind Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, and Lebron.

Look’s like Kobe and Harden have something else in common.

The Author

The Author

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Michael Mannen

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