When talking about the fact that LeBron James is by far the best player on the planet, it seems that too many ignorant Laker fans are trying to argue that Kobe Bryant is at least LeBron’s level, if not better. However, when asked to explain their reasoning, the only answer that Laker fans can think of is that Kobe has won 5 championships. So let’s take a look at the flaws in this argument.
Kobe Bryant was selected by the Charlotte Hornets with the thirteenth overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft. Now, if Kobe had done something honorable, respectful, he would have shown gratitude to the Hornets for showing faith in his abilities, and would have worked. tough to help the franchise turn things around and possibly make a decent playoff run. But no, Kobe showed all the sordid characteristics of a spineless snake, and demanded that he be traded to the title contenders Lakers, where he could play with the best coach in the game’s history, Phil Jackson.
So the smug kid got his way, betrayed the faith the Hornets had instilled in their draft pick and headed West. Kobe saw little playing time in his first two seasons under Phil Jackson, although he did manage to work his way up the Lakers starting lineup for his title run in 2000.
Playing alongside the leagues’ MVP, Shaquille O’Neal, and veteran superstars Glen Rice and Ron Harper, Kobe’s number was very poor at a lousy 35% during his first series of finals against the Indiana Pacers. He managed to average 15 points per game below par, only slightly higher than Rice and Harper, despite the fact that Bryant took twice as many shots as the two of them combined. Fortunately for Kobe, Shaq, the undisputed superstar of the Lakers, carried him on his shoulders, leading the Lakers to the championship with 38 points and 17 rebounds per game.
The late 2001 series against the Philadelphia 76ers was the same old story: Kobe played Robin in Shaq’s Batman, riding the tail of the great men to a second straight title. Shaq led all players with his 33 points and 16 rebounds per game.
A year later, the Lakers were faced with a daunting task: how to beat the Sacramento Kings. After being outscored, outscored and outscored by their California neighbors, the Lakers found themselves in an unfamiliar situation, losing 3 games to 2 in their Western Conference Finals matchup. This time, Kobe not only relied on Shaq to get the job done, but also enlisted the services of NBA commissioner David Stern, who along with the umpires in charge, orchestrated one of the most disgusting demonstrations of match-fixing in history. of sport. In what is now commonly referred to as “the NBA’s greatest tragedy,” Commissioner Stern ordered the umpires in charge to “send the series to Game 7, whatever happens.” The commissioner was concerned that the prospect of a final Kings v Nets series would be dire for television ratings, and he was determined to have at least one marketable franchise playing for the title in June … that marketable franchise he chose was the Lakers. Just YouTube the highlights of this game to see for yourself. Former NBA referee and convicted game fixer Tim Donaghy was the scapegoat the NBA used to sweep the scandal under the rug: Donaghy went to prison, the Lakers won the title … that’s the sweet thing. American diplomacy for you!
Even though the Lakers shouldn’t even have been playing in the 2002 Finals, Shaq did what Shaq always does and led the Lakers to a 4-0 sweep of the New Jersey Nets. His 37 points and 13 rebounds earned him his third consecutive Finals MVP award. By betraying the Hornets all those years before, Kobe was able to sit back and enjoy the glory of Shaq.
After a very successful season with the Lakers, Shaq decided it was time to move on: He had done everything he could for that franchise, leading them to just 3 titles in a row, which is reminiscent of Michael Jordan’s impact with the Bulls in the 90s. His first season without the big man, Kobe led the Lakers to a shocking 34-48 record, rather embarrassing for a team that had just won 3 championships, but hey, I guess that’s what happens when a team loses Batman . A Robin team just can’t compete.
So the evidence is clear: Kobe’s contribution to the Lakers championships is far from great – he played second fiddle, just like Scottie Pippen played second fiddle for Jordan all those years before. Without Shaq’s influence, the Lakers would have been a mid-table team struggling to make the playoffs, and Kobe would have had no ring.
The difference between Kobe and LeBron is not the number of rings, but the choices they chose to make. Kobe chose the easy path, the path without courage: betraying the team that gave him a chance, simply to become a role player on a championship team. LeBron chose the hard path, the honorable path taken by some of the greatest to ever play the game, including Jordan and Larry Bird. They were selected by struggling teams, who relied on these young stars to change their franchise: Jordan did it for the Bulls, Bird did it for the Celtics and LeBron did it for the Cavs.
LeBron could have gone Kobe’s way, could have stabbed the Cavaliers in the back and demanded a trade from a title contender like the Detroit Pistons, to be coached by one of the greats: Larry Brown. But instead, he proved that he had a backbone. He showed that he is a man of integrity, a man who can be trusted and a man who can be respected; he stayed true to the Cavs and agreed to play with little-known coach Paul Silas.
One can only imagine how many championship rings LeBron would have, had he taken the ‘Kobe’ approach. Playing alongside Rip Hamilton, Chauncy Billups, Rasheed and Ben Wallace, led by Larry Brown, the King in all likelihood would have won 5 in a row in his first 5 years, easily beating everything Kobe was capable of.
LeBron’s stats speak for themselves: he kills Kobe in touchdowns, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals, shoots a much better field goal percentage and a 3-point higher percentage, is the second defensive player of the year and the Double MVP, the only argument any Kobe fan can muster is the rings, but hey, we just disproved that argument too!