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Did Kobe Bryant Quit in the 2006 Western Conference 1st Round Game 7 vs. The Phoenix Suns?

As the resident Kobe fan of Chasing 23, nothing irks me more than the claim that Kobe has “quit’ on his team several times during his career. No other argument seems more contrary to who Kobe fundamentally is. This line of Kobe bashing came into play once again during the 2011 Finals as folks began to compare Lebron’s performance to the games that Kobe supposedly “quit”.

Exhibit A for this argument against Kobe has traditionally been the 2006 Game 7 Western Conference 1st round match-up between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Phoenix Suns. Popular opinion states the following:

  • After taking 13 shots in the 1st half of the game, Kobe checked out and only took 3 shots in the 2nd half (scoring 1 point on an illegal defense free throw)
  • Kobe was upset with Charles Barkley who had accused him of taking too many shots in the latter part of the series, so was trying to prove a point that this Laker team had no shot of winning if Kobe didn’t try and take over
  • Kobe played passively and essentially threw in the towel during the 3rd quarter of the game

This line of reasoning was even recently recited during a discussion between Chasing 23 readers Lochpster and Boyer. My own recollection of the game is that Kobe gave an unbelievable effort in the 1st half, and even with this performance, the Lakers still were getting trounced. In the 2nd half, he kept finding open teammates who were completely unable to find the mark (perhaps the worst offender was his alleged “no. 2” Lamar Odom, who seemed to disappear for long stretches at a time).

So I decided to settle this argument the only way we know how to here at Chasing 23: go through the tape (see parts: 1/2/3/4) of the 2nd half and remove the bias that is introduced by our own desire to create a story around athletes we follow. Mind you, this was extremely painful for this Laker fan to relive. As I rewatched that night 5 years ago, I remembered the hopeless feeling that set in during the middle of the 2nd quarter when I realized this Laker team was simply overmatched against the Suns. I also found myself screaming at Odom, Smush, and Kwame all over again – amazed by their incompetence and lack of desire, and wanting to send them personalized invitations that the game had already begun. Lastly, I was sickened by a defense that made Leandro Barbosa and Boris Diaw seem like all-world players.

With that said, here is a play-by-play breakdown of what happened in the 2nd half (until approximately the 5 minute mark of the 4th quarter, when the Lakers were down 28 and Kobe exited the game). An attempt was made to document those possessions where Kobe touched the ball, as well as the general result. All Laker possessions have been documented as well as all Phoenix Suns scores. Finally, highlighted in green are all plays that resulted in (1) a Laker score or (2) a good Laker offensive possession, i.e., ones that ended with a wide open shot or shot deep in the lane.

Background: In the 1st half of Game 7, Kobe singlehandedly kept the Lakers close (somewhat), scoring 23 of the Lakers’ 45 points. Bryant nailed four 3-pointers while shooting over 60% from the field. Still, the Lakers went into the locker room trailing the Suns by 15.

Phoenix Suns: 60, Los Angeles Lakers: 45

Beginning of 3rd quarter

11:15:  Kobe touch pass; Parker takes it in lane; bricks an open shot in lane

11:03: Shawn Marion drains mid-range jumper.

Phoenix Suns: 62, Los Angeles Lakers: 45

10:37: Luke Walton drains a wide open 3; Kobe does not touch ball.

Phoenix Suns: 62, Los Angeles Lakers: 48

10:29: Raja Bell drains 3-pointer.

Phoenix Suns: 65, Los Angeles Lakers: 48

10:17: Kwame misses 3 footer in the lane and then misses tap-in; Kobe does not touch ball.

10:03: Kobe touch pass. Kwame drawn into ill-advised shooting foul by James Jones.

Phoenix Suns: 67, Los Angeles Lakers: 48

9:44: Kobe touch pass to Walton, Walton bricks layup, Turiaf scores putback.

Phoenix Suns: 67, Los Angeles Lakers: 50

9:21: Diaw blows by Smush Parker for dunk.

Phoenix Suns: 69, Los Angeles Lakers: 50

9:02: Set play for Odom; passes to Luke Walton who misses open shot from the free throw line; Kobe does not touch ball.

8:52: Goaltending by Turiaf; Raja Bell scores.

Phoenix Suns: 71, Los Angeles Lakers: 50

8:30: Kobe quick touch pass to Smush Parker;  Smush misses wide open 3-pointer and then makes putback layup.

Phoenix Suns: 71, Los Angeles Lakers: 52

7:56: Shooting foul by Lamar Odom on Diaw, who makes both free throws.

Phoenix Suns: 73, Los Angeles Lakers: 52

7:46: Kobe misses 3-pointer (first shot of quarter).

7:07: Kobe passes into Walton who misses 2-footer.

6:35: Walton misses wide open 3-pointer; Kobe does not touch ball.

6:11: Kobe makes illegal defense free throw.

Phoenix Suns: 73, Los Angeles Lakers: 53

6:05: Smush Parker drains 3-pointer; Kobe does not touch ball.

Phoenix Suns: 73, Los Angeles Lakers: 56

5:40: James Jones drains a 3-pointer.

Phoenix Suns: 76, Los Angeles Lakers: 56

5:22: Smush Parker commits a lazy turnover; Kobe does not touch ball.

5:07: Shawn Marion dunks the ball.

Phoenix Suns: 78, Los Angeles Lakers: 56

4:31:  Kobe double teamed and passes out; gets the ball back and misses 3-pointer.

4: 31: Shawn Marion fouled on loose ball; makes 2 free throws.

Phoenix Suns: 80, Los Angeles Lakers: 56

4:22: Odom fouled on drive; makes both. Kobe does not touch ball.

Phoenix Suns: 80, Los Angeles Lakers: 58

3:44: Kobe passes into Odom on set play; Odom to Kwame for dunk.

Phoenix Suns: 80, Los Angeles Lakers: 60

3:20: Leandro Barbosa makes mid-range jumper.

Phoenix Suns: 82, Los Angeles Lakers: 60

2:59: Set play for Odom; passes to wide open Devean George who misses 3-pointer; Kobe does not touch the ball,

2:50: Raja Bell drains 3. The rout is on.

Phoenix Suns: 85, Los Angeles Lakers: 60

2:27: Kobe pass out of double team. First sign of frustration in body language. Kwame Brown misses 4 footer in lane.

2:04: Kobe pass into set isolation post play for Odom. Misses driving layup under contention.

1:49: Quick 3-pointer by Vujacic. Odom putbacks the miss. Kobe does not touch the ball.

Phoenix Suns: 85, Los Angeles Lakers: 62

1:32: Driving uncontested layup by Barbosa.

Phoenix Suns: 87, Los Angeles Lakers: 62

1:13: Pick and roll play with Kobe, he’s doubled and passes to an open George in the corner who misses a 3. This is a play commonly made today by Lebron (for which he is credited).  

0:47: Pick and roll between Kobe and Cook; Kobe makes a behind the back pass to Cook who bricks open 16 footer followed by a missed Devean George tip-in.

0:27: Diaw blows by George for a short jumper (and gets fouled on a continuation play).

Phoenix Suns: 90, Los Angeles Lakers: 62

0:13: Kobe and Cook pick and roll. Kobe makes fundamental play passing out of double to Cook who rotates to Vujacic who drains wide open 3.

Phoenix Suns: 90, Los Angeles Lakers: 65

End of 3rd

11:37:  Kobe passes out of double team; Cook drains turnaround jumper.

Phoenix Suns: 90, Los Angeles Lakers: 67

11:03: Post play to Cook who misses short turnaround; Kobe does not touch ball.

10:42: Nash blows by Parker for wide open lay-up.

Phoenix Suns: 92, Los Angeles Lakers: 67

10:27: Cook takes ill-advised 28-foot 3 pointer as Kobe is calling for the ball in the post. Kobe does not touch the ball.

10:03 – Kobe attempts to run a play through Smush who fumbles the ball. Kobe is clearly frustrated about the lack of execution. Kobe gets offensive foul attempting to drive to basket.

9:53 – Kobe called on another very questionable offensive foul making a drive to the lane.

9:47 – Tim Thomas dunks the ball.

Phoenix Suns: 94, Los Angeles Lakers: 67

9:19 – Kobe attempts to split double team for 1st time in 2nd half, gets fouled. On subsequent inbound, set play results in layup for Odom.

Phoenix Suns: 94, Los Angeles Lakers: 69

8:56 – Tim Thomas blows by Cook for layup.

Phoenix Suns: 96, Los Angeles Lakers: 69

8:37 – Kobe is doubled and ball rotates over to Cook; pass to Walton who drills a wide open 17 footer.

Phoenix Suns: 96, Los Angeles Lakers: 71

7:54 – Kobe doubled off pick and roll and passes to Cook for wide open 3. Brick. Vujacic and Cook miss two layups on offensive rebounds and then Cook turns it over.

7:18 – Kobe passes to Odom with good position in post who scores a turnaround in the lane.

Phoenix Suns: 96, Los Angeles Lakers: 73

7:09: Leandro Barbosa drains 3 pointer.

Phoenix Suns: 99, Los Angeles Lakers: 73

6:42: Kobe/Turiaf pick and roll. Kobe doubled. Ball rotation results in wide open Luke Walton brick.

6:16 – Nash drains mid range jumper.

Phoenix Suns: 101, Los Angeles Lakers: 73

6:01 – Kobe/Turiaf run pick and roll. Kobe doubled. Ball rotation results in wide open Vujacic 17 footer that misses the mark.

5:41 – Boris Diaw makes wide open layup on assist from Nash.

Phoenix Suns: 103, Los Angeles Lakers: 73

5:20 – Kobe touch passes to set play between Odom and Walton. Walton makes short bank shot.

Phoenix Suns: 103, Los Angeles Lakers: 75

4:54 – Kobe makes an expert lob in deep to Turiaf who is fouled under the basket.

Kobe exits game for Smush Parker.

An analysis of the Lakers’ 34 second half possessions looks like this:

  Another Laker makes shot Another Laker misses open shot Missed Kobe shot or Kobe offensive foul Bad Possession by another Laker
Kobe touched the ball 9 9 4 2
Kobe didn’t touch the ball 3 4 0 3
Total 12 13 4 5

 

In the 2nd half, of the 24 possessions where Kobe touched the ball, over 90% of them resulted in either a made shot, an open missed shot, or a Kobe shot/offensive foul. In other words, in those possessions, Kobe overwhelmingly helped lead the offense to a good outcome or shot the ball himself.

In the circumstances where Kobe did not touch the ball, the Lakers wound up with a good outcome (make or wide open shot), 70% of the time. Of the 3 plays that were bad Laker possessions here, during one play, Kobe demanded the ball from Cook who ignored him and took a long 3, another play was a set post-up for Cook that resulted in a contested turnaround, and the last play was a careless turnover just over midcourt by Smush Parker.

Overall, of the 34 possessions documented above, 85% of them resulted in either a make, a missed wide open shot, or a Kobe shot/foul. The remaining 5 plays were generally poor decisions made by other players early in shot clock or were set plays called by Laker coaching.

Conclusion

Looking at the data above, it is difficult to see any way to come to the conclusion that Kobe quit during Game 7 of the 2006 playoffs opening round vs. the Suns. Kobe ran the offense at a rate where 85% of the time his teammates either made the shot, missed a wide open shot, or the possession belonged the Kobe. He showed high engagement throughout the 2nd half, bringing up the ball 10 times during the last 10 possessions documented here, resulting in 8 makes/missed wide open shots and 2 offensive fouls. While Kobe can certainly be blamed for being ineffective (2 missed 3 pointers and 2 questionable offensive fouls), his play put his team in a good position to execute the offense time and time again.

In fact, the Lakers’ lackluster performance in Game 7 can be directly attributed to 2 causes: (1) the complete disappearance of the supporting cast and (2) as referenced earlier, lackluster defense against the Suns bench, specifically Boris Diaw and Leandro Barbosa.

With respect to the supporting cast, the Lakers team outside of Kobe (who shot 50% from the field), shot a measly 32%. Keep in mind, that this percentage was based on shots that were, in large part, either wide open or several feet away from the basket if contested. Besides Kobe and Walton, the remaining Lakers shot an atrocious 1-16 from the 3 point line. No Laker in the front court had more than 5 rebounds against a team whose center was Boris Diaw. Only one Laker player had more than 2 assists.

In the meantime, the Laker defense on the other end of the court was equally horrendous. The Phoenix bench made a mockery of the Lakers starters. Leandro Barbosa and Boris Diaw, two players who were mediocre earlier on in the series, combined for 47 points and even Tim Thomas chipped in with 12. A review of the 2nd half play by play reveals an array of wide open 3 pointers, layups, and dunks that thoroughly demoralized the Laker team.

Qualitatively, there is only 1 overt circumstance where an argument can be made for Kobe’s frustration causing him to not fully play out the possession. At 2:27 left in the 3rd quarter with the Lakers down 25, Kobe appears to pass the ball quickly and back out of the play, seemingly at a loss over what to do (even this play however, resulted in an easy 4 footer that Kwame Brown missed).

Mike D’Antoni, realizing that the Lakers’ only hope at some point would be if Kobe got into the “zone”, employed a strategy commonly used by many teams attempting to take Kobe out of the offensive scheme: jumping out on the high pick and roll and double teaming him above the key away from the basket. In this circumstance, the Laker counter strategy has typically been to ball rotate twice to the open man (the modern day version of this is typically Kobe passing to Gasol/Odom in the high post from where they find the open shooter). Starting toward the latter portion of the 3rd quarter, Kobe saw a double team nearly every time he touched the ball for the remainder of the game. Kobe’s teammates however were completely unable to take advantage of their opportunities, putting the Lakers (and Kobe) in an unwinnable situation.

Finally, there are those who will argue that it was imperative on Kobe that he not leave his team’s fate up to his ineffective teammates. Kobe realized that this strategy had already been tried in the 1st half with an extremely negative result (the Lakers down by 15). Kobe knew the only way the Lakers would be able to rally against the Suns was via ball movement and getting at least 1 or 2 other players that could contribute to the offense. As Kobe himself stated later,”"To get back in the game, we needed somebody else to start making shots. I was just trying to get the other guys going, turn the momentum around.”

Unfortunately, for both Kobe and the Lakers on that forgettable night 5 years ago, that strategy never materialized.

Related posts:

  1. Kobe and the Clutch Playoff Performance Myth
  2. Michael Jordan: Game Winning Shots
  3. Who did more with less? 2009-10 Lebron or 2005-06 Kobe?
  4. Kobe Bryant vs Dwyane Wade: Who’s the Odd Man Out for 1st Team All-NBA?
  5. J.M. Poulard: Is Kobe Bryant’s Reputation Undeserved (8/30/11)

Discussion

135 Responses to “Did Kobe Bryant Quit in the 2006 Western Conference 1st Round Game 7 vs. The Phoenix Suns?”

  1. Wow, this is great. Out of all of the bogus inconsistent arguments I hear about Kobe, the argument that he quit in this game is the worst. He played hard the entire game. People with both teams can contest to that and have. Phil told Kobe to get everyone else involved at halftime, and it sounds like he tried to do that, and did it extremely well. While coaches like Dantoni have plenty of evidence to believe that if Kobe goes off, the lakers will have a better chance of winning, but in reality, if the entire lakers’ team is contributing well, the lakers have even a better chance of winning. Kobe only went off in one game of this series, and the lakers lost. Kobe tried to get teammates involved consistently throughout the series, but in the end, other than Kobe, that lakers team was terrible offensively. The suns were supposed to be some juggernaut team and they were a very good team, but amazing that kobe led the lakers to 3 wins in this series. The lakers were still able to have good offensive possessions usually, it’s just that most of them couldn’t put the ball into the hoop.

    It’s just so ironic that most kobe haters complain that he forces shots, and then when he doesn’t, he still gets bashed. Barkley bashes Kobe for shooting too much in the first half, and then bashes him for not shooting enough in the 2nd half. Barkley is one of the worst nba analysts in the business, but he’s humorous and an nba legend, so he gets to keep his job. But, he like many nba fans have a grudge against kobe.

    Posted by boyer | September 12, 2011, 7:56 am
    • “Grudge against Kobe?”

      I am not aware of anyone who’s opinion I would consider worth listening to has Kobe ranked anywhere lower than #15 all time.

      There is no grudge against Kobe. There does exist a push-back on the seemingly endless stream of superlatives and hype that often flies in the face of the evidence.

      Kobe is blessed with an exceptional skill set that a team needs to win titles. Kobe has a tremendous work ethic and has consistently improved his game. (with the exception of the past year when he will likely begin to decline due to age and the minutes take their toll)

      Speaking only for me:

      I am not an advocate of saying a player “quit” during a game. It is too difficult to tell and there could be many ways to interpret the action on the floor.

      My criticism of Kobe is one of maturity, decision making and, though not his fault, the endless accolades that the NBA hype machine drops on us.

      Kobe was christened the “next Jordan” far too early in his career and he seemed obligated to fulfill that prophecy.

      The comparisons of Kobe to Jordan are a sick joke as NO PLAYER will ever come close to embodying all that Jordan brought to the floor. As a Bulls/Jordan hater, I am not in the habit of worshiping at the alter of “23″, but there is too much evidence in the record to deny.

      Jordan is alone in preventing several great players their rings. Barkley, Malone, Stockton, and Gary Payton all win rings if not for Jordan.

      Ironically, Kobe likely prevented Payton and Malone from getting a ring by playing like a spoiled child in the 2004 finals.

      Posted by Paulie Walnuts | September 12, 2011, 8:58 am
      • You are a Jordan ‘hater’ lol

        Declaring that no one ‘will ever come close’ to Jordan is a hilarious sentence. Jordan may be the greatest but there are plenty of players right up there with him.

        Magic, Bird, Wilt, Kareem, Shaq, Lebron, Kobe, etc. aren’t even in Jordan’s hemisphere? Wtf is Jordan, god? He’s a person playing basketball with other people. Please get off his nuts.

        Posted by Paulie Michael'sNutsPlease | March 5, 2013, 5:09 pm
    • Boyer, thanks for the read and comment. This was a painful exercise for me to go through as a fellow Kobe fan, but I finally got sick and tired of here the “Kobe quit” argument from folks. My distinct recollection of the game had always been the Kobe was doing whatever it took to win. Going through the tape made be realize this was 100% true.

      Unfortunately, all of this would have been made moot if Tim Thomas hadn’t hit the lucky tap-out 3 in Game 5. If not for that shot, Game 5 would have been remembered as one of the great performances by an underdog in NBA playoffs history (and Kobe would have the one thing on his resume that naysayers claim he doesn’t currently have: a playoff victory as an underdog).

      Posted by Brown Mamba | September 12, 2011, 10:57 am
      • Yea, you’re right. I don’t quite understand this underdog thing that much, plus the lakers were underdogs against the wolves in 04 and won. The suns were a top 3-4 team at least in 06 and 07. What Kobe did was absolutely amazing. Those smush parker PG laker teams would’ve been lucky to win 12-15 games without Kobe, if that. What people need to realize is that if it was still best of 5, the lakers win 3-1, with 2 Kobe buzzer beaters in game 4, but the rules in the nba change from time to time. This is another reason why jordan seems so much like a fairy tale and people can’t fathom anyone better than him. He hits that shot on Ehlo to win the series, what was it, 3-2 in the series. Kobe did the same thing times 2(2 buzzer beaters), lakers would’ve won the series 3-1, against a much better team than that cavs team. Sure, facts are facts, but what’s the real, entire story? That’s what’s more important.

        Posted by boyer | September 13, 2011, 8:31 am
    • I like the point you make in the second paragraph about how Kobe is in a no-win situation with regard to shot selection. That point applies for most star players, but more so for Kobe and LeBron than anyone. The general argument seems to be that players of that ability level should hold the ball on ever offensive possession and dribble around until they can blindly barrel into the lane. We call this “being aggressive.” The opposite end is either “shooting too many jumpers” (negative-spin) or “running the offense” (positive-spin). Mamba even used the positive spin version in his column. I don’t know what brand of basketball it is that the pundits who hang their hat on this philosophy want to watch, but it doesn’t seem terribly interesting to me.

      In watching the tape, I think Kobe did miss some opportunities, but I am convinced that he was trying hard. It definitely doesn’t compare to what LeBron did after halftime of game 2 this year once David Stern agreed to fund his global icon plans in exchange for a Dallas championship. That’s for sure.

      Posted by Diggityd | September 16, 2011, 10:44 am
    • This talk and stats is all good and well, but the proof is in the video and the reaction of the announcers and broadcasters:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HGoxIvuPtmo

      Posted by CrimsonFlush | September 28, 2011, 9:33 pm
      • end of discussion…reading the play for play is one thing..seeing the game and listening to the commentators is another..with all kobes ability, greatness and accolades..he is still a quitter..and u can never take that from him.

        Posted by spekktakk | May 2, 2012, 5:24 am
      • This article is amazing and the Brown Mamba is special.

        Posted by William | May 2, 2012, 11:28 pm
  2. 15? That is laughable. Now you’re getting into an entirely new topic. I can’t believe anyone could have Kobe outside the top 5, without extreme bias involved.

    ‘Quit’ is an extremely strong word, and people throw it out loosely. Kobe may or may not be hyped up sometimes, but he’s deserving of it, but much moreso, he is bashed and hated on. With even a remotely logical analysis of that game, at no pt. could anyone say Kobe quit. His effort was always there in that game.

    See, the media has fooled you like almost everyone else. Jordan isn’t some untouchable supernatural player. Kobe’s already done many things Jordan never was able to accomplish. The way jordan’s career went down is almost perfect. There’s no way he wins 8 titles in a row. He took his break from the game, got re-energized, and then got an even more stacked roster, and won 3 more. Kobe’s never had a roster of jordan’s bulls’ team caliber. It’s not like the 08-10 lakers were knuckleheads, but

    Posted by boyer | September 12, 2011, 10:25 am
    • You’re right, Boyer. Quit is an extremely strong word. Yet exactly one article preceding this, you casually penned the nickname “Lequit” and stated “[Lebron] has proven to be a choke artist and a quitter.” I asserted Kobe quit for one game, which upset you, yet you asserted Lebron is a quitter in general. Your statement is much, much stronger, so I presume you must have extremely strong evidence to support it?

      “Kobe’s already done many things Jordan never was able to accomplish.” Examples please? You couldn’t come up with examples last time I asked, so I’ll give you another chance.

      Furthermore, you’re constantly blasting others for inconsistency, then you blast others for using the term quit too loosely after loosely tossing the same word around less than 2 weeks ago? It’s hard to take what you say seriously when your assertions vacillate so wildly between players you obviously like and players you obviously don’t.

      Posted by Lochpster | September 13, 2011, 9:09 pm
    • I’m willing to bet alot of people don’t have kobe in their top 5

      Posted by jon | January 7, 2012, 7:04 pm
  3. Ok, my computer was wigging out some.

    You can make a case Kobe was immature at one pt. in his career, but you can say that about every player in nba history. But, the past several years, that hasn’t been the case. Players change. And the decision making? I don’t get that or understand why armchair fans think they understand the game better than Kobe. I’m guessing you mean he shoots too much. Well, I challenge you compare Jordan’s and Kobe’s FGA/game. Jordan shot way more than Kobe. I would say Jordan is a better scorer, but not necessarily a better offensive player. Jordan was basically only asked to score on the bulls, because they had pippen to facilitate more, but kobe has to do and does do both on the lakers, much more responsibility. There’s too much evidence to say that Kobe is at least extremely close to jordan, and he’s not done yet. For those jordan fans, you better hope this lockout continues for a very long time, kobe’s already been shafted 32 games in 99, maybe more still.

    Posted by boyer | September 12, 2011, 10:31 am
    • Jordan shot way more, yes, except he shot at a higher percentage, and took way less contested difficult shots. Kobe shoots way too much for the type of shots that he takes. And saying that Jordan’s only responsibility was as a scorer is not only laughable, but ridiculous. If that’s true, he wouldn’t average more rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks per game than Kobe, while also turning the ball over less, both in the regular season AND the playoffs. Kobe is a better outside shooter, and I would argue that had MJ devoted himself to that he would have been better too (he was interviewed after Game 1 of the Portland series and said that it takes away from his game) but that point is moot.

      I could go on all day, from Kobe never exceeding slightly more than 15 win shares in a season while MJ has exceeded 20 on multiple occasions, how Kobe’s TO% is over 2% higher, how MJ’s AST% and REB% are higher (despite your insistence that he was only a scorer) despite playing with great distributors and rebounders such as Pippen, Grant, Rodman, etc., and finally, Kobe’s most efficient season PER wise would have only been Jordan’s 8th best season. Kobe is going to go down as an all time great, but he has never been on par with Jordan’s consistent greatness and efficiency.

      Posted by Typical | December 12, 2011, 3:29 pm
  4. Mamba,

    I have to agree with you on this one. Kobe Bryant did NOT quit in Game 7 against the Suns and I have always felt that he received a bad rap. I too decided to re-watch the tape this weekend and have a couple of observations:

    • Your most astute assessment centers around the screen-roll traps that the Suns employed on Kobe during nearly every defensive possession in the second half. Once they began ‘showing’ on those screens, Kobe has no choice but to make the correct basketball play and pass out of the double team.The only problem is that the rest of the supporting cast failed to execute.
    • It seems like much of the hype and criticism was generated from Doug Collins and Kevin Harlan for repeatedly questioning why Kobe is not “going off”, rather than understanding the purpose of the Lakers’ 2H game plan.
    • If anything, Phil Jackson (not Kobe Bryant) should be criticized for failing to give Kobe Bryant the green light. However, it wouldn’t have mattered given the horrific defensive effort that the Lakers’ supporting cast provided. In fact, it is the Lakers’ supporting cast, not Kobe, that quit in this one.

    As far as anti-Kobe myths are concerned, this ranks right up there with “Kobe finally learned to trust his teammates in 2008” and “Kobe chased Shaq out of town in 2005”.

    Lastly, you are also correct in stating that had Kobe been victorious in this series, it would have silenced many of the skeptics (including myself) who waffle around his Top 10 status and question whether he was merely a player who won championships because he had benefited from excellent management and the best supporting casts in basketball year in and year out. In sum, it would have placed him in the same category as those legends who have won as underdogs, willed their team to victory, and managed demonstrate their greatness by overachieving with inferior talent – Jordan (88,89), Malone (81), Duncan (03), Hakeem (86, 87, 04, 05), Oscar (64), Wilt (63), Russell (68,69) and West (63) – The good news for Kobe is that he still has time to demonstrate this.

    Posted by The NBA Realist | September 12, 2011, 12:39 pm
    • Ok, Realist, I’ll take the bait.

      I’m not sure if not winning as an underdog really is reason to “waffle” around Kobe’s top 10 status. I don’t think this is even an argument, really? Kobe is definitively, at this point in his career, at least the 2nd best shooting guard to play the game, has been to 7 Finals and won 5 rings, numerous All-NBA and All-Defensive teams, and both offensively and defensively is one of the greats to ever play. I’m not going to break down a player by player comparison in this comment or a top 10 list (both require a separate post), but I don’t see how a reasonable fan could put 10 players in front of Kobe at this point in his career. Even a Kobe hater like Bill Simmons has him at #8 all time. And are you really going to throw Moses Malone into a discussion about Kobe’s merit as a top 10 great?

      Posted by Brown Mamba | September 13, 2011, 6:19 am
      • Moses did win 3 MVP awards. He led the league in RPG 6x and has career averages of 20.3 and 12.3 in the regular season and 22.1 and 14.0 in the playoffs. Moses led a pretty otherwise sorry Rockets squad to the finals.

        Moses may not have Kobe’s individual skills, but there can be little argument that MO’ had huge impact on his teams.

        Posted by Paulie Walnuts | September 13, 2011, 7:52 am
        • and, to further beleaguer the point: Jordan, Russell, Kareem, Bird, Magic, Wilt, Duncan, Hakeem, Shaq, Oscar, West.

          I consider myself pretty reasonable, and that is 11 players I would put ahead of Kobe, and fairly easily.

          Posted by Paulie Walnuts | September 13, 2011, 7:57 am
          • Thanks for the laughs, Paulie.

            Posted by boyer | September 13, 2011, 8:34 am
          • Paulie — I’m not going to get into the detail here, because I think it’s a good discussion that merits further analysis, but I think you’re dead wrong having Kobe behind Oscar, Bird, and West. The rest at one level of another I will agree deserve to be ranked ahead of Kobe or it is at least arguable. Another post for another day…

            Posted by Brown Mamba | September 13, 2011, 2:05 pm
          • I put all of those players ahead of Kobe as well. Kobe is 12th on my all-time list.

            1. Jordan
            2. Kareem
            3. Wilt
            4. Magic
            5. Bird
            6. Russell
            7. Hakeem
            8. Shaq
            9. Duncan
            10. West
            11. Oscar
            12. Kobe

            Russell and Bird are interchangeable for me. That is for another day though.

            Posted by Vaughn | July 1, 2012, 11:57 am
          • Vaughn,

            That’s a pretty good list.

            I would debate the ranking of Shaq ahead of Duncan, West, Robertson.

            I also have Kobe behind Moses Malone.

            Brown Mamba is way off by believing that Bryant ranks ahead of Bird. To me, it is illogical that Magic is ahead of Bryant and Bird is not. Bird was at least the equal to Magic, and probably a little better.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | July 1, 2012, 1:30 pm
      • I do not think that I am alone in questioning Kobe’s Top 10 status, particularly when you compare him to the greatest players that have ever played – which given the 60+ year history of the NBA, the majority of basketball fans have no familiarity. Not giving Kobe Top 10 status is not a knock since he is undoubtedly amongst the elites. However, we are not comparing him to Joe Johnson – we are comparing him to the 10 best to ever play and I wish fans would revisit the tape, stats, and resumes of those old-school players to truly gauge their accomplishments. Moreover, it is not 2008 Kobe vs. 1962 West, Wilt, Oscar, and Russell since 2008 Kobe is undoubtedly better given advances in modern medicine, training and genetics, and even talent. Instead, it is a measurement of Kobe’s accomplishments relative to his era, since this is the correct way to gauge legacies. So at a minimum, it is undoubtedly an “argument” as to whether Kobe belongs in the Top 10.

        Greatness = Resume + Individual Brilliance. With that said, let me provide you with a more educated perspective by first responding to your points and then explaining why there exists doubts as to Kobe’s legacy.

        In no particular order, my Top 13 Pantheon Legends are limited to the following: Jordan, Wilt, Olajuwon, Magic, Bird, Shaq, Oscar, West, Moses, Duncan, Russell, Kareem, Kobe. I have excluded players such as Lebron and Wade, because their bodies of work are incomplete and they are still in the primes of their careers.

        NBA Rings/Final appearances – This is obviously the crux of your argument and the most flawed given the shortsightedness of history. Remember, we are not measuring the greatness of individual teams. We are measuring the greatness of individual players –hence the flaws in ring counting. Championship rings when comparing Elite 13 with one another, do not distinguish greatness; Anyone outside of the Elite 13,possibly – but not the Elite 13. Instead they are entirely the mark of the opportunities provided to a player who has the privilege of playing with a talented team. Why? Because they have all done it. Granted, the Elite 13 may not have won every single time, but given them enough chances, they have proven that they will win at some point. Don’t believe me? Study the careers any of the Top 13 (Jordan, Wilt, Duncan, Kareem, Magic, Bird, Russell, West, Moses, Shaq, etc… EVERY single one of them proved that they will win championships –in some instances multiple championships – when given enough opportunities with the best supporting cast in basketball: something that Kobe Bryant has been the beneficiary of for the majority of his career. Again, we are not comparing Kobe to Joe Johnson, we are comparing him to the 10 greatest players to ever play the game and it becomes an even playing field when a player receives enough opportunities. In that light, 2 things become apparent:

        1.) Of Kobe’s 5 championships, only 2 were won as the Alpha Dog which places him in the middle of the pack and lower than Russell, Jordan, Magic, Bird, Duncan, and Shaq as players who won the most rings as an Alpha-Dog. Kobe was no doubt a major contributor in those first 3 championships, but being an Alpha-Dog comes with a completely different level of pressure. In other words, there is no way you can tell me that Kobe’s 3 rings as a second fiddle are equivalent to Bird’s 3 rings as the best player on his team.

        2.) Regardless, lets assume that Kobe was the Alpha Dog for all 5 rings. For 9 years of his career Kobe has had the best supporting cast in basketball (2000-2004 and 2008-2011). So of course Kobe Bryant has been to 7 Finals and won 5 rings. This is certainly impressive when compared to Karl Malone or Patrick Ewing. However, it is not as remarkable when comparing to the Elite 13. With the exception of Magic, Bird, and Russell (who by no coincidence have also won several championships and made Finals appearances given the sheer number of opportunities), no player has ever been more often blessed with a more years with the ‘most talented supporting cast’ than Kobe has. And by the time his career ends, there is a chance that he will have been given more opportunities than any of the elites in history. To me, this does not necessarily make him greater than the other Top 10 greats in the same way that you will never convince me that Pete Rose, who has more career base hits, was a better hitter than Ted Williams. Luckier? Perhaps. Right place at the right time? Certainly. But winning championships with the best supporting cast in basketball at the Top 13 level is expected. It is status quo.

        This is also why those who understand the history of the game search for other ways in which a player demonstrates his winnability – or impact on winning for his team. And when an individual player is able to beat a superiorly talented team with an inferior supporting cast, it speaks more to individual greatness than the person who wins a championship with a completely stacked team, and has the luxury of going 6-24 during the biggest game of their careers. Underdog wins are not the only means of measuring winnability, but certainly an important one. Again, give a Pantheon Legend enough opportunities, they will begin to win championships, and I challenge anyone to prove otherwise.

        Kobe won 5 rings because he was supposed to have won and his teams were the favorites every time out. There would have been no excuses had he lost. In fact, it is no coincidence that from 05-07, his teams didn’t win a championship is it? However, players such as Hakeem, Duncan, and Moses won when they were not supposed to have won which translates to true winnability. Put another way, had West, Jordan, Kareem, Shaq, Wilt, etc… had the best supporting cast in basketball for the bulk of their career like Kobe had, there is nothing to discourage me from believing that they too would have won more than 5 rings and 7 championships – particularly since they already proved it given the limited number of opportunities they were provided. To me, Winnability is more impressive than ring counting and the 5 rings/7 Finals appearances needs to be taken into context. If anything, best to measure rings vs the opportunites rather than total rings.

        All-NBA/All-Defense: This may be one of the more overrated honors given that over-the-hill players (i.e. Wilt, Kareem, Russell) have historically earned this recognition despite being nowhere close to All-NBA. Regardless, I’ll pay ball on this one. Kobe’s 9 First-team All-NBA honors ranks him 3rd behind Jordan and Kareem and ties him with Duncan, Magic, Oscar, and Bird. This means that of the Pantheon 13, he is better than Wilt, Russell, Moses, Hakeem and Shaq. While he has certainly amassed a higher number, I am not sure that it thoroughly distinguishes him from the other greats given the leniency in this honor, and speaks far more to longevity than dominance. I will acknowledge however, that the All-Defense honor is where Kobe distinguishes himself, and he was certainly one of the Top 5-7 greatest defenders to ever play.

        Moses Malone: I never necessarily said Moses should be ranked higher than Kobe, but it is absolutely a discussion and your dismay tells me that you know very little about Moses’ career. Kobe certainly ranks higher on the individual brilliance scale and that ultimately gives him an edge in my book. However, as an individual player who impacts winning, Moses did far more with less and I challenge you to disprove that Moses’ resume is better:

        • 3 MVPs
        • The greatest underdog run in NBA history in 1981 – winning 3 playoff series as with a 39 win team in 1981, including defeating the NBA champs and getting the NBA Finals.
        • 1 championship (with only 1 championship caliber team or “opportunity” his entire career)
        • Best player in the NBA for a 5-year stretch from 79-83 (27 points/15 reb on 52% shooting)
        • 2nd greatest rebounder to ever play the game behind Rodman
        • #7 All-time in Scoring – only Jordan, Kareem, Kobe, Wilt, Shaq, Malone are ahead of him.
        • 6 Rebounding Titles
        • #1 All-time in career rebounds in the modern era; #3 overall behind Wilt and Russell whose totals were inflated.

        To me, this resume is more impressive to me than Kobe Bryant’s. In fact, if we remove ring counting from the equation, it becomes even less of an argument and further in favor of Malone. Nonetheless, I’ll put this to you in ring counting terms – give me 6 renditions of the 83 Sixers, one of the greatest teams of all time, and the only opportunity that Moses had with the best supporting cast in basketball, and I assure you that Moses’ teams would have won at least 2 championships and made 3 Finals appearances just as Kobe did as an Alpha Dog. Moses spent the bulk of his career in purgatory, hence only 1 championships, but his teams accomplished far more given the limitations of their talent than Kobe did. Just because ESPN does hype Moses up does not mean he wasn’t a legend and a top 10 player.

        With that said, here is why the jury is still out as to whether Kobe is a Top 10 player:

        1. Kobe has demonstrated less of a will to win when compared to the elites. – Despite having the best supporting cast in basketball for 9 seasons, his teams nonetheless lost 4 times (03, 04, 08, 11) in the playoffs to inferior/underdog teams – each of which Kobe was the Alpha Dog and each of which Kobe Bryant played poorly (with the arguable exception of 03). In fact, as an Alpha Dog since 2003, Kobe has had the best supporting cast in the league 6 times, and won twice. That’s 2 championships when given 6 opportunities as a Top 5 player in the league with the best supporting cast in basketball. Forget about whether you believe that this is good or bad … when compared with other Top 13 Pantheon Legends, other than Larry Bird, no other player has failed more often when given opportunities by losing to inferior/underdog teams – Not Wilt, not Kareem, not Magic, not West, no one. Therefore, in terms of maximizing the opportunities given to him, Kobe Bryant ranks at the low end of the scale. What places him even lower are his poor performances during these loses – specifically 04, 08, 11. To me, this does not exhibit a “will to win”.

        2. Peak Brilliance/Talent – At his Peak (whether single season or 5-year peak), at his absolute best (playoffs + regular season), I would have taken the following 9 players over Kobe – Jordan (88-92), Wilt (61-66), Kareem (71-75), Olajuwon (93-97), Magic (87-91), Bird (84-88), Oscar (62-66), Shaq (98-2002), West (62-66). I’d be happy to elaborate individually, but know that the stats and playoff performances substantiate this. To me, dominance during a short period of time is far more importance when measuring greatness than longevity. In other words, no one will ever convince me that Pete Rose is a better hitter than Ted Williams just because he as more career base hits.

        3. Big Game/Clutch –I know that there is a perception that Kobe Bryant is a big game player, but when compared to the other greats it is not even close (I will spare you the player-by-player comparisons which have already been done) and all of the evidence shows that Kobe actually gets worse (not better) during big games.
        a. NBA Finals – Poor performances in 2000, 2004, 2008 with career stats of 25.3, 5.7, 5.0 and 41.2 FG% – substantially lower than his playoff and reg season averages. Kobe’s Finals’ stats ranks ahead of only Russell when compared to the Top 13.
        b. Game 5/7’s – In 5 career games, 23.2 points, on 39.1% shooting, including 6/24 during the biggest game of his career. Feel free to check the game logs, but I challenge you to find another Top 10 Pantheon legend that has played worse during do or die games over the course of their career.
        c. Elimination Games – Once again no one amongst the Top 13 has performed worse statistically (and without breaking this down game by game, Kobe has a career average of 21.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.3 assists on 40.1% shooting.

        4. Only 1 MVPs –2 facts:
        a. 8 other Top 13 Pantheon Legends have garnered more MVP awards than Kobe: Kareem, Jordan, Magic, Bird, Wilt, Russell, Moses, Duncan.
        b. 7 other Top 13 Pantheon legends have garnered more combined (MVP/Finals) awards: Jordan, Kareem, Wilt, Duncan, Magic, Bird, Russell.

        Kobe’s one MVP award places him somewhere toward the bottom of the list, tied with Shaq, Hakeem, and Oscar, but ahead of Jerry West.

        5. Shooting Percentage – Lets be honest. Kobe’s offensive greatness is perpetuated by spectacular shot making ability than his efficiency. Kobe is certainly one of the greatest offensive players to ever play, but he is not better offensively than Jordan, Kareem, Wilt, Olajuwon, Oscar, Magic, Bird, or Shaq. The entire Kobe argument centers around Kobe’s ability to score points, yet he misses a substantial number of shots, particularly when compared to the other Pantheon greats. To put this in perspective, when he finishes his career, there is a high probability that no one will have missed more shots in their NBA lifetime than Kobe Bryant. More importantly is his Shooting percentages, specifically TS% (which includes Free throws and three pointers), which is amongst the lowest when normalizing for eras and comparing to the Top 13 – the only one who fares worse is Russell. The fact is that for every spectacular H-O-R-S-E shot that he makes, he misses even more, and his assists total ranks somewhere in the middle . Granted, in 07 and 08, he hit peaks of 58% and 57.6% TS but for the bulk of his career, his has remained in the lower 55% range. Compared to Vince carter and Joe Johnson, this is great, but not when compared to the pantheon. Spectacular shot making does not equal Great offense and there is no way that he can be considered Top 5 offensively.

        In support of Kobe’s legacy as a Top 10 player are the following:

        1.) Defense – Of the Top 13, only 7 can truly be considered defensive stalwarts during their Peaks: Jordan, Hakeem, Wilt, Russell, West, Kobe, Kareem. This is also what helps differentiate him from players such as Shaq, Oscar, Magic, and Bird.
        2. Longevity – He has consistently played at a high-level, if not to the same Peak level as the other Top 13, amassing total career stats.
        3. Impact on the League – His spectacular shot and personality has made him one of the most memorable players that the league has had. From an entertainment/eye candy perspective, he is easily a top 5.

        So in sum, when compared against the Top 13, Kobe is on the lower end of the categories that are most important to me:
        • Winnability: Winning when given the superior supporting cast, and poor performances to boot
        • Peak Brilliance – 1 year and 5-year
        • Big Game/Clutch performances in the Playoffs, NBA Finals, Elimination Games, Game 7 playoff fames.
        • MVP awards

        Does this mean that Kobe is out of the Top 10? No. But it certainly substantiates my original point and merits an argument.

        Before you respond, I would ask you 2 things:

        1.) Do you fully understand the careers and accomplishments of old-school players that you are comparing Kobe to? Players such as West, Oscar, Kareem, Wilt, Russell, and Moses? It is easy to believe that Kobe is Top 5 when your baseline is unfamiliarity.
        2.) What is your criteria for greatness? Without criteria, arguments will go all over the place. Moreover can you stay consistent to that criteria without arbitrarily applying different rules to different players?”

        Outside of counting rings, Kobe’s resume begins to look relatively bare when compared to the Top 13. I used to believe that Kobe was Top 5 before I began studying the resumes and watching tape of those old school players. Now, I have completely changed my mind. As such I certainly waffle.

        Posted by The NBA Realist | September 13, 2011, 3:40 pm
        • That is very impressive in its length.

          A large part of your argument hinges on the statement “For 9 years of his career Kobe has had the best supporting cast in basketball (2000-2004 and 2008-2011)”. That statement is highly debatable. The only time that I agree it was true is in October and November of 2003, before Karl Malone injured his knee.

          Shaq is a huge element, but outside of Shaq, the talent around the Lakers was subpar. Even Scottie Pippen had more talent outside of Michael on his Chicago Bulls teams. Lebron certainly had a better supporting cast than anything the Lakers had around Kobe.

          Pau Gasol was basically Chris Bosh before joining the Lakers. Artest and Odom are talented, but the best supporting cast was any of the Celtics, take your pick who is the “leader” of the group.

          To be brief, it’s far from a given that Kobe had the best teammates for nine seasons, let alone one or two seasons.

          Posted by Gil Meriken | September 13, 2011, 6:35 pm
          • Gil,

            You are absolutely correct that outside of Shaq and Kobe, the Lakers roster were mediocre.. However, if you were to give me a choice between playing with an overall talent pool of Shaq-Horry/-Fisher-Fox vs any other combination in the league (sans Alpha-Dog), I am taking the Lakers’ option. Playing alongside one of the 10 best players who ever played the game at the peak of his powers is a luxery that NO other player (while in their prime) has ever been given, and offsets a good/average 4-man supporting cast (sans their Alpha-Dog) such as Bibby-Peja-Divacs-Christie or whoever you want to choose. Sorry, but I’m taking Shaq and any other 3 scrubs you want to give me and combining 2 of the Elite 13 in their primes.

            Completely disagree that Lebron had a more talented supporting cast than Kobe over the years? M.Williams, Jameson, West, Illgausakas vs. Gasol, Bynum, Odom, and Artest? In my opinion, Gasol, Bynum, and Odom are better than any player not named Lebron.

            Gasol is also a better version of Bosh and actually plays defense as attested by his shot blocking ability. Bosh repeatedly takes plays off.

            Fair point with regard to the Celtics, although I would not consider any one of the big three an Alpha-Dog, and therefore no true supporting cast. Given that each of the Big 3 have spent the bulk of their time past their prime, they were really more the sum of their parts. Put another way, Kobe + his supporting cast is a more talented combination than anything that the Celtics can generate. I can excuse 2008, but no excuses for 03, 04, and 11. Regardless of whether you want to debate that Kobe had the “best” supporting cast those years, the fact remains that Kobe’s teams lost to teams they should not have lost to, which is a black mark in my book.

            Posted by The NBA Realist | September 14, 2011, 9:52 am
        • I presntly have the same list as you ahead of Kobe.

          I debate putting Havlicek ahead of
          Bryant as well, but even if Kobe has a poor year by his standards it would be enough to pass Hondo.

          The thing I debated hard today was whether Bryant was poised to pass Shaq and Moses.

          If Bryant puts up 22/5/4 for another 2 years, I would have to move him ahead of Shaq and Moses.

          However, if Kobe’s knee and the mountain of minutes catches up to him and he struggles with his shot(and hits only 42-43%) and can’t (or won’t) attack the rim and therefore not go the line as often and the Lakers hover around 40 wins, Kobe may have cemented himself firmly at #13.

          I can’t see any way that Kobe passes Robertson or West or any of the others on that list.

          Posted by Paulie Walnuts | September 13, 2011, 8:57 pm
        • Realist — as Gil states, the length of you comment is impressive, but let’s nail this down, rather than confuse the issue with words.

          Let’s put it simply wrt the argument at hand: do you believe that West, Oscar, and Malone belong ahead of Kobe in the top 13? An unqualified yes or no will suffice.

          Once you answer no (which I believe you will), we can then begin the reasonable discussion of where he belongs in the top 10.

          Posted by Brown Mamba | September 14, 2011, 12:34 am
          • Mamba,

            “Do you believe that West, Oscar, and Malone belong ahead of Kobe in the top 13?”

            Oscar – Absolutely
            Malone – I already answered this one
            West – Not sure. Too close to call.

            Help me understand why Oscar would NOT be ahead of Kobe, ring counting aside which we’ve already undermined? Statistically, he was off the charts, second only to Jordan and Wilt, was a better overall player offensively (scoring and passing – relative to his era), overachieved dramatically in 63 by beating Nationals team he had no business beating, spent the bulk of his career single handedly dragging an undermanned Royals team against Russell’s Celtics and Wilt’s Sixers, and was a better playoff performer. In end, Oscar finally won a championship during the later stages of his career when he was traded to Milwakee and teamed with Kareem. Had he had the opportunity to team with Kareem earlier (instead of Jack Twyman) -just as Kobe did Shaq – is there any doubt that he would have won more rings?

            Posted by The NBA Realist | September 14, 2011, 7:14 am
          • After just reading some of the realist’s post, it’s obvious there are several loopholes/much bias involved. Gil already accurately talked about some of it. You mention alpha dog status on title teams, then basically dismiss it when comparing kobe to others like oscar. Let’s take the alpha dog status on title teams with kobe’s career and substitute jordan in there for him. Jordan would only have 3 titles at most as the alpha dog, if he had the same career as kobe, playing with shaq as an 18 yo, starting in 1997, and that would be 08-10, and I highly doubt the lakers with jordan would’ve won in 08. Kobe was so much better than jordan at an early age, that I seriously doubt the lakers win 3 titles in 00-02 with jordan, instead of kobe. Jordan never had to play in the shadow of an already established, in his prime, top 10 player. I’m tired of hearing this knock against Kobe. Such a bogus argument. Each career is different. Kobe’s only had a chance in 3 seasons to be alpha dog and win a title and he’s 2 for 3 with 3 finals appearances, and now it seems the nba doesn’t want to play anymore games, unfortunately.

            And I’m sure MVPs are mentioned. To me, it’s not how many you win, it’s how many you deserve, and what type of competition you’re going up against? I feel it’s much harder to win MVPs now than in jordan’s day, especially when voters hate you and don’t accurately vote for you. You do realize that Kobe garnered 0 MVP votes in 05 and even P.J. Brown got 1 vote that year. How much of a joke is that, and what a joke it is to have nash win 2, the same as shaq and kobe combined. Shaq was shafted in MVPs as well.

            Look at how many all-def. teams, all-nba teams, AS appearances Kobe has, and compare that to anyone else. He’s easily top 5 already in that regard. He has 7 finals appearance, 5 titles. He’s most likely the most skilled offensive player ever, going to be top 3 at the very least in scoring when his career is over, probably career playoff scoring leader, and while not an all-nba level at 18-20, he was already playing great defense at an age of 19-20. Very few, if any, players can say that about themselves. It’s extremely inaccurate to put him behind many of these other players, but not surprised. Any great nba legend that could even be remotely put ahead of kobe in terms of all-time greatness usually is. I mean, sure West was a great player, but compared to kobe? That’s just a joke to kobe below him. Also, on your short list of great, Dr. J needs to be there. Why is he forgotten?

            Posted by boyer | September 14, 2011, 9:19 am
          • Boyer, I am not going to get bogged down in your details and would ask that you read my entire post since it answers many of your questions. The only thing that I will emphasize is this- Kobe Bryant has been the Alpha Dog of the Lakers since 2003 (supported by shot distribution, MVP votes vs, Shaq, acknowldgements from Phil Jackson, etc..) Since 2003, he has entered the playoffs as the “championship favorite” with the best team in the league every year except 05, 06, 07. This means his teams have been the favorites 6 years, not 3 as you attest. During that time he has won 2 championships. Thats 2/6. Feel free to interpret this information however you choose, but understand this – when compared to the Elite 13, his success rate rests at the bottom of the pile.

            Lastly, with regards to Dr J, he fails to enter the Elite 13 because he was really more of a #2 than a Alpha Dog as we found out in 83. Moreover, Doc was a mediocre defender at best, and his offensive skills were not enough to offset his defensive deficiencies. Dr.J along with Havlicek sits right outside the pantheon on my list.

            Posted by The NBA Realist | September 14, 2011, 10:06 am
          • I think that Dr. J and Kobe are very comparable players. Doc had the huge hands and was a much better rebounder, but Kobe had a much better jumper. Some of that may have been created due to environment, but on the whole Kobe is a better player.

            I have Dr. J about #20 all time.

            As to West, he was the great defender at his position. West was a superior shooter and though typically shot from a greater distance (and without getting the extra point), still shot at a higher efficiency than did Bryant. West also had higher RPG and APG than did Bryant.

            Any intangible you wish to argue about West, well, he was called “Clutch” by his teammates and became the frigging logo for the league AND brokered the deals to get Kareem, Magic, Worthy, Shaq, Bryant and Gasol. West did more for the Lakers than anyone ever has.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | September 14, 2011, 9:56 am
          • Paulie – Curious as to who consider to be your Tier One group of elites and in what order? I too have Havlicek and Erving on the outside of my Pantheon.

            Posted by The NBA Realist | September 14, 2011, 10:07 am
          • I marvel at when people will say things like “numbers lie”, or that “stats don’t tell the story”, then use stats to prove that point.

            Boyer is highly selective when it comes to picking his measurements. He will use subjective merits or accepted metrics when they benefit his case, yet never uses any metric that weakens his case.

            while I don’t totally disagree with what Gil says and i think that he has a good degree of understanding, I cannot agree that focusing on minutia can overcome all the measuring metrics used in stat compiling for the NBA. I have asked him to explain further, yet I am still waiting for it.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | September 14, 2011, 10:07 am
          • Realist, I have posted my list before, but I will do so again.

            Jordan, Russell, Kareem, Bird, Magic, Wilt, Duncan, West, Robertson, Hakeem, Shaq, Moses, Bryant, Hondo, Baylor, Pettit, K. Malone, Barkley, LeBron James.

            I am open to discussion on West/Robertson.

            I believe that James will be #7 by the time he is done.

            I had Dr. J. higher at an earlier point, but after looking at playoff performance and accounting for the difference between the ABA/NBA, I had to put Doc lower. He was sweet to watch though!

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | September 14, 2011, 10:14 am
          • I agree with Paulie here-I have Kobe behind those same 12 guys, albeit in a different order. Obviously everybody has their own criteria and lists will differ. I think you could make a case to move Kobe up past Moses and West to 11 or down past Hondo and Pettit to 15, but I think he sits nicely at 13 on my list for the moment and likely would only move up since, unlike those other players, he can still add to his legacy.

            I think Hondo’s an interesting comparison in terms of value, since I have them right next to each other in my rankings, they played the same position, and they both had such similar careers-coming onto a team with a dominant center and having to work their ways into the rotation, growing into co-equals of a sort, going through a dropoff in team performance when the dominant center leaves, then later in the career pairing with another dominant big to win more titles. Both were very good scorers who didn’t shoot a great percentage, very good rebounders and passers, and dominant shut-down defenders. Both had reputations for being incredibly clutch. Hondo has more rings and roughly the same number as an alpha. By my count, Hondo’s teams won at least 3 titles as underdogs and lost three playoff series they shouldn’t have during a 16 year career, including 2 as a title favorite. Kobe has never won a title as an underdog and has numerous losses as a title favorite in a career that, to this point, is shorter than Hondo’s.

            Folks who don’t believe in greatness being measured by individual stats would have a hard time putting Kobe ahead of Hondo on any all-time list. Hondo trumps Kobe in team results and “winnability” by a fairly wide margin and his clutchness is unquestioned. But Kobe is just a slightly better all around player than Hondo based on his career stats, which is why I have him slightly ahead of Hondo. Like Realist pointed out, among the truly elite, winning titles is more about opportunity than anything else, and Hondo was blessed by playing with more great players than just about any player in NBA history.

            Posted by Lochpster | September 15, 2011, 10:06 pm
          • I also like the numerous times throughout the articles saying that “MVP awards in the regular season are meaningless” or, my favorite “MVPs were easier to win when Jordan was playing than today”

            I would wager if Kobe Bryant had 2 or more MVP awards, that MVP awards would cease to be so meaningless.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | September 15, 2011, 10:24 pm
          • To say that Jordan never played in the shadow of a great player is not entirely true.

            While there is no NBA player that would qualify, MJ did play under Worthy while at UNC.

            Worthy was the AP College Player of the year in 1982. Jordan followed that up by being selected himself in 1984.

            It si really ignorant to believe that the Lakers would not have won with Jordan playing with Shaq. You could have switched any of the top guards on any of the teams the Lakers demolished from 1999-2001 and they still win and likely in the same resounding fashion. Reggie Miller, Allen Iverson, Jason Kidd all would have rings had they switched teams with Kobe.

            What is interesting in the realm of juxtaposition is the idea of the Lakers fortunes with an 18 year old LeBron James paired with Shaq. Since Leborn seems to be more a facilitator of the offense rather than the focal point of one, it is likely the Lakers win titles in 2004 and 2003, as wells as 2000-2002.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | September 16, 2011, 5:42 am
        • Great post by Realist. I personally think it’s very clear – when someone ranks Kobe in their top 5 all-time, they ARE unfamiliar with other greats. That, or they refuse to see the game as they should.

          One thing that bothered me, Realist: “I will acknowledge however, that the All-Defense honor is where Kobe distinguishes himself, and he was certainly one of the Top 5-7 greatest defenders to ever play.”

          There is just no way this is true. Kobe would be hard-pressed to fit that profile amongst guards, even. Kobe’s defensive accolades, as you suggested, were many times unwarranted. He was an awesome defender in his prime, but: 1) he never demonstrated the ability to take over entire games/series with his defense and 2) he often saved energy for offense by coasting.

          Posted by Billy Hoyle | February 9, 2012, 11:14 am
          • I agree with Billy on this point. It takes an enormous amount of energy to fulfill the reputation that Kobe has earned as that “lockdown” on ball defender.

            I am NOT, repeat NOT saying that his reputaion is undeserved or that he is not a great defender.

            It is fair to assume that the legend has outgrown the reality regarding his ability.

            I would be the first to admit that I do not nor have not watched all the video, but is there video evidence of Kobe changing an outcome of a game with his defense?

            It seems easy to cite the so-called game winning shot, but is there evidence of Kobe making the game winning stop?

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | February 9, 2012, 1:18 pm
          • Best defenders ever? Hard to really say as defense rarely gets appropriate accolades.

            For guards, though, some candidates:

            Payton, Kidd, Jordan, Walt Frazier, West, Havlicek, Cooper, Moncrief, Alvin Robertson, Dumars, Dennis Johnson, Don Buse, Mo Cheeks, Jerry Sloan, Mookie Blaylock and LeBron James.

            Is Bryant better than all of them?

            We have to remember that often defensive awards are linked to offensive output and that the better offensively a player is, the more likely he will play longer, thus having more opportunity to win awards.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | February 9, 2012, 3:54 pm
          • Paulie — there are numerous instances in Kobe’s career where he has either (1) locked down the man he was assigned to defend or (2) demanded an in-game switch to the hot man.

            In you don’t believe me, feel free to check in with Allen Iverson, Rajon Rondo, Vince Carter, Paul Pierce, Reggie Miller or any other all-star player that Kobe has shut down in their prime.

            Looking for specific examples? How about his performance against Miller in Game 1 of the 2000 NBA Finals (pre ankle injury) when Miller had the worst game of his career, going 1-16. Or ask Rondo or Pierce from the 2010 Finals. How about the 2000 game where he absolutely abused Allen Iverson?

            The fact of the matter is, we can dig through history and pull out numerous examples, but you don’t get 9 all-nba selections by fluke. Sure, some of those may have been based off of past achievement, but at the end of the day, the record is too strong to suggest he is any but one of the great wing defenders in the history of the NBA.

            Posted by Brown Mamba | February 11, 2012, 9:13 am
          • “The fact of the matter is, we can dig through history and pull out numerous examples, but you don’t get 9 all-nba selections by fluke.”

            I’m not referring to Kobe in particular when I say this, but the “voting” awards in basketball (and also sports in general) can be INCREDIBLY influenced by past reputation. Especially if you’re a star name.

            Posted by The Realist #2 | February 11, 2012, 10:41 am
          • Mamaba,

            You need to give your Kobe plush doll a big hug and relax.

            I was asking the question “is there any evidence that Kobe has made the game winning stop”

            I did NOT write “Kobe has NEVER made a game winning stop”

            I am also pretty certain that I went out of my way to state that I was not contending that Kobe was undeserving of his reputation.

            I was offering a level of perspective. Often, people tend to only consider the here and now and do not bother to check the record. We also need to remember that guards like West played most of their careers BEFORE defensive awards were given.

            curious that you cited Pierce in the those that have suffered form Kobe’s defense.

            2008 Finals I recall Pierce guarding Kobe most of the time. I do not recall who guarded Pierce, but. . .

            Pierce 38/88 .431
            Bryant 53/131 .406

            I am not sure, but it looks like Kobe was the one that got shut down.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | February 11, 2012, 9:08 pm
    • I’m fairly certain that Kobe did chase Shaq out of town, along with Phil Jackson. In his book “big book of basketball” Bill Simmons confirms, after a number of drinks as he puts it, that a top Lakers official confirmed to him that there was a hand shaken deal to ship Shaq out of town in order for Kobe to resign with the lakers. And straight up Kobe did quit in this game, the lakers blew a 3-1 series lead and he only took 3 shots in the 2nd half of a game seven? The most eloquent wording in the world could not convince anyone who actually remembers any of this that kobe wasn’t anything but an immature little punk whose career was saved by the greatest coach of all time taking a second chance on him, even after he forced Phil out. Come to think of it I forgot how much I hate Kobe Bryant.

      Posted by jon | January 7, 2012, 7:10 pm
  5. Jordan led the LEAGUE TEN TIMES IN SCORING!!!! TEN TIMES!!!!

    While doing this, he was pushing a discredited and also ran franchise into the stratosphere of NBA history.

    The Lakers could have won with Shaq and without Kobe. There is NO WAY the Bulls even get past the SECOND ROUND IN THE EAST WITHOUT JORDAN. Let alone push the Pistons to games #6 and #7?? NO CHANCE!!

    There is NOTHING that any part or member of the media has nor ever will convince me of. I am perfectly capable of evaluating the data and combining with what I witnessed to make an evaluation of each players place in history.

    This is the second time you have mentioned that Kobe has accomplished what Jordan has. . . Tell me again where has Kobe surpassed Jordan? Where has Kobe even equaled Jordan??

    You could honestly place Bryant above Jordan, Russell, Bird, Johnson, Chamberlain, Jabbar, Duncan, Olajuwon, O’Neal, Mo’ Malone, Robertson or West?

    Which one of those is Kobe measurably better than?

    Look at the team results prior to each players arrival.

    Look at the results after that player arrived.

    Look at the results of the player within his team and within the league.

    Look to see what the peer evaluation was; count the MVP awards (difficult for West as he had to compete with Wilt and Russ), then compare the game results with Kobe.

    THERE IS NO POINT IN WHICH KOBE IS GREATER THAN THOSE ON THAT LIST.

    Being considered the 13th (or at worst) 14th greatest player of all time is NOT an insult nor a slight.

    When you say that Kobe is extremely close to Jordan, in what way? Free throws? 1st team all defense? Three point shooting? All NBA? Those are the ONLY areas where you can make a case, and three point shooting has an inherent era bias in favor of Bryant.

    Just to help you out, here are the actual numbers regular season and playoffs

    FGA: Jordan 22.9 and 25.1
    Bryant 19.4 and 20.2 (that changes when you adjust for the 2 years when Kobe was not a starter to 23.8 and 21.6)
    FG%: Jordan .497 and .487
    Bryant .454 and .448
    FT% Jordan .835 and .828
    Bryant .837 and .815
    3PT.% Jordan .327 and .332
    Bryant .339 and .335
    RPG Jordan 6.2 and 6.4
    Bryant 5.3 and 5.1
    APG Jordan 5.3 and 5.7
    Bryant 4.7 and 4.8
    PPG Jordan 30.1 and 33.4
    Bryant 25.3 and 25.4

    Jordan 6 titles in 6 tries
    Kobe 5 titles in 7 tries
    Jordan 5 MVP’s and 1 DPOTY
    Kobe 1 MVP
    Jordan 6 Finals MVP’s in 6 finals
    Kobe 2 Finals MVP’s in 7 finals
    Jordan 10x in PPG and 3x in SPG
    Kobe 2x in PPG
    Jordan 10 1st team all NBA and 9 1st team all defense in 15 seasons
    Bryant 9 1st team all NBA and 9 1st team all defense in 14 seasons.

    When you add it all up, there is no objective measurable way that you can place Kobe ahead or even close to Jordan.

    Jordan shot more? Yes, THREE WHOLE SHOTS MORE A GAME!!! WOW!!

    What you don’t wish to acknowledge is that Jordan MADE his three extra shots (and more), while still CREATING more shots for his teammates!

    Of course, being objective is often the problem, isn’t it?

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | September 12, 2011, 1:11 pm
  6. You make some interesting points. I admit it’s hard for me to be unbiased about Kobe because I don’t like him. I’m certainly willing to admit I’m wrong here, but you haven’t convinced me yet, and the reason is because (I believe) this game was so out of character for Kobe.

    Kobe’s MO, for his whole career, has been that he wanted the ball when the stakes were the highest. He’s wanted the glory, or the blame, on his shoulders. And in this game, glory was certainly a possibility. He’d scored 23 points on a mere 13 field goal attempts during the first half, a blistering pace and good for more than half his team’s points.

    Further, we knew his teammates were going to be awful. They shot a combined 4-16 in the first quarter (Kobe was 2-4), during which the Suns built a 17 point lead. And the Lakers started to close the gap in the 2nd largely because Kobe was doing most of the work. So the idea that Kobe doing it all alone wasn’t working was total bunk-his teammates were playing awful basketball, and Kobe was the only thing keeping them going.

    We knew Smush Parker, Luke Walton, and Kwame Brown weren’t good players to begin with, and they were all having bad games. I will buy that Kobe was trying to get his teammates involved and that hitting the open man out of a double is usually the right move. But does it make sense that each of these guys (as well as Odom) had more shots than Kobe in the second half? That’s shocking. I can’t believe that’s what Jackson wanted when he asked Kobe to get his teammates involved, and Kobe’s never been the “good soldier” type to follow his coach’s instructions if he didn’t buy into them. Kobe’s decision not to shoot was Kobe’s.

    Furthermore, we know that Kobe was able to score even when entire defenses were focused on him. Beyond leading the league in scoring that year, he’d led the Lakers back from a 14 point half-time lead by eviscerating the Raptors for 81 points, 55 in the second half, earlier that same season. And far from a juggernaut, the Suns had the third worst D in the league that year in terms of PPG, so there’s no reason to believe they could have shut Kobe down despite some reasonably good perimeter defenders in Bell and Marion.

    From a psychological standpoint, it does make some sense that Kobe would decide not to shoot in this specific circumstance. Lots of folks were piling on Kobe for shooting too much. His management’s failing to surround him with even adequate talent. If he doesn’t shoot, doesn’t it prove his critics wrong and make a pretty strong point to management in one fell swoop?

    What would really convince me that I’m wrong is if Kobe’s had similar behavior during other high-stakes games. Has he ever deferred this much to his teammates (particularly his lesser ones) in another important playoff game? If he has, I promise you I’ll cede my argument right here. But if not, given the perfect storm of criticism and frustration, I have to believe that this theory has some legs. After all, neither of us can get into Kobe’s head and know the truth.

    Posted by Lochpster | September 12, 2011, 10:18 pm
    • Loch — for someone who is usually pretty analytical in their responses, this is about as biased a comment as I’ve seen from you. I have to strongly disagree on multiple points you make here.

      1) The Lakers were gaining traction when Kobe went off in the 2nd quarter.

      What, by cutting the lead from 17 points to 15 points? It was pretty clear to see that even with Kobe going berzerk, the Lakers weren’t going anywhere in the game. Again, I think both Phil AND Kobe realized that the Lakers weren’t winning unless at least 1 or 2 other players stepped up.

      2) Phil wasn’t happy with how Kobe was running the offense.

      I suggest you watch the tape more carefully (or at least read the play by play of the post above). If anything, Kobe repeatedly put his team in an offensive circumstance to convert. The reason the Lakers lost was not Kobe, again it was defense and just an utter disappearance of the supporting cast.

      3) From a psychological standpoint, Kobe knew he could pressure management by quitting?

      What? Where in Kobe’s history has it ever been suggested that the only thing he is consumed by is winning? His fault is often that this all-consuming desires sometimes causes him to make sub-optimal decisions. There is absolutely no way, from a psychological standpoint, I could see Kobe sacrificing a game 7 in the playoffs in order to “make a point.”

      Posted by Brown Mamba | September 17, 2011, 12:40 pm
  7. Mamba, for you to call me “biased” against Kobe Bryant is amusing in its lack of self-awareness. Secondly, starting your post with an ad hominem attack (a logical fallacy most of us are taught not to use in high school) weakens the credibility of whatever argument is to follow. I already admitted I’m biased, but that doesn’t change the validity of anything I say in my post just as your obvious bias, Mamba, doesn’t change the validity of what you say in yours.

    Further, you failed to address the main question I asked in my post, which threatens to undermine the argument you made in your article. Has Kobe ever stopped shooting in another legacy-defining game as he did in this one? Or does he pretty much always keep shooting, no matter the situation or team results, until the game is decided? I believe the latter quite strongly and am still awaiting evidence to the contrary. Given the extreme aberrancy of this behavior, I think it is completely valid to ask why. I suspect you won’t respond to my question because there aren’t other high-stakes games where Kobe has decided to stop shooting.

    1) I agree the Lakers had a better shot at winning this game if a few other Lakers got involved, and I’m sure Phil Jackson wanted Kobe to try to get his teammates going, but let’s be real. Trying to set up your teammates and not even trying to score are two completely different things. And this team was so dependent on Kobe that he’d scored 36% of their points during the season-it’s hard for me to imagine their winning this game on the offensive backs of Lamar Odom, Smush Parker, Kwame Brown, Luke Walton, Sasha Vujacic and Brian Cook.

    2) If by put his team in a position to convert you mean he continually fed the cold hand, then I agree. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, and that’s what feeding these bad players having bad shooting nights in this situation amounts to.

    Kobe’s the only reason the Lakers made the playoffs or won a game this series, and he definitely had very little chance to win this game with the supporting cast playing the way it did. I believe strongly that team results are a terrible way to measure a player’s value, anyway. But Kobe’s not absolved for the way he played-that is on him, and him alone.

    3) I disagree that Kobe’s all-consuming desire is winning. I agree with Bill Simmons’ take on Kobe, quoted from a 2009 article in which he picked one word that is most important to a player, had this to say about Kobe.

    “Kobe — Greatness. Yes he’s going to win some, but only because he wants to be considered great and that will be a by-product at times. But you’d also see him shoot his team out of a game; jack 3s when he should press the issue and get to the paint. He didn’t mind losing a few games if people came away saying ‘Kobe is great; look what happens when he doesn’t shoot.’”

    To me, this explains why Kobe and Shaq couldn’t get along and why Kobe, despite having an atrocious shooting performance, refused to defer to an utterly dominant Shaq in the 2004 Finals. It explains why he’s got such a huge lead in the all-time game-winning shots attempted statistic even though, by averages, he’s not a great clutch shooter. It explains why the degree of difficulty on his shots is so high-only the best make it to Sportscenter, and it’s worth a few clunkers to get there. It explains his attempted trade to the Bulls, as he knew he’d never win with the Lakers’ cast as it was constituted. It explains the 6-24 game. The way I see Kobe’s thought process, it’s not enough to win. He needs to be great, as well.

    Now as this pertains to the game in question. The Kobe-lead Lakers were going nowhere fast in the post-Shaq era. Kobe had proved his individual brilliance by putting up a historically great scoring season, but he’d as of yet failed to show he could lead a team. The storyline for this series was shaping up to be that Kobe was a ballhog who didn’t trust his teammates, and Kobe’s nemesis, Shaq, was still alive and kicking with a great sidekick out in Miami. His legacy was certainly in doubt. Kobe’s teammates sucked, he knew that they sucked, and he knew his team probably wasn’t going to add to his legacy by winning anything of value with this motley crew. So in setting up his teammates (who again, sucked, and he knew sucked) while refusing to shoot, he accomplished a few things. One, he reinforced his own greatness by contrasting to his teammates’ ineptitude. He singlehandedly demolished the “ballhog” storyline. And, in emphasizing how awful his teammates were, he put pressure on management to go out and find him more help. Lakers lose, yet Kobe can preserve his reputation, still come out looking like a superstar and try to force his team to add talent? Seems like there’s at least some motivation for him to act the way I believe he did.

    My evidence for this? Purely circumstantial, I admit, but makes a lot of sense to me. Kobe’s Lakers have had some rough defeats in playoff losses, losing by an average of 24 points in elimination game losses throughout his career, but this is the only one I know of where he just quit shooting. The motivation certainly makes sense if you believe his aim is “greatness” rather than winning, although as a Kobe diehard who believes Kobe’s only motivation is winning, I’m 100% sure you’ll disagree. In writing this article, I believe you failed to address the main criticism of “Kobe haters”, which isn’t that Kobe was completely worthless in the second half, but rather, that he refused to shoot and therefore set his team up for failure to help preserve his reputation and legacy.

    Now again, this debate has legs largely because I believe Kobe’s behavior was so abberant. So I ask again-has Kobe ever acted this way in another game with so much on the line? Has he ever deferred to his teammates to this extreme? If so, it weakens my argument considerably and I will admit defeat. But if not, I will continue to stand by my assessment as a completely valid opinion.

    Posted by Lochpster | September 17, 2011, 3:43 pm
    • This is hogwash at best. Kobe only once exceeded his season FGA/game average in 06 playoffs, and the lakers lost, and he didn’t stop shooting in game 7, he did shoot 3x in the 2nd half, repeatedly passed out of the double team and got great looks time and time again for his teammates. Your argument holds very little weight, if any, because you bash Kobe for not shooting much and then you come right back and bash him for shooting too much, make up your mind, your inconsistency is blatantly obvious, which I could say for a lot of people.

      He only shot 10x in game 2 against the hornets, and dominated the game defensively, completely flustering Paul and causing the hornets offense to basically self-destruct. This is what the lakers needed because Fisher is the worst starting PG in the league by a fair margin and has no chance against quick PGs, which almost every PG in the NBA is. Kobe, obviously with a bad ankle and other injuries did a great job and much better than Fisher on Paul.

      Posted by boyer | September 18, 2011, 11:55 am
    • Loch — let’s not try to “out-clever” ourselves here (and I’m not sure what high school you went to, but the top of my English teachers list was not “don’t start arguments with ad hominem attacks”. My calling out of your bias is based on your comments on this site, you’ve often tried to project yourself as an unbiased voice of reason who relies on analytics to get to the bottom of things (which I generally commend, though I think it tends to box those that rely on that line of reasoning to get boxed into a corner). I am of course, as I’ve stated on this site, a huge Kobe fan, but have always attempted to back up my fandom with logical reasoning.

      I think things got away from you here in your own bias, and I called you out on it. Instead of misleadingly pulling out numbers about Kobe’s % of team points during the regular season, let’s look at what really happened.

      In Game 5 of the series, the Lakers lost by 17. They trailed by 9 going into the 2nd half. Do you know how many shot attempts that Kobe had in the first 11 minutes of the 2nd half? 2. This is the EXACT same shot total he had for the first 11 minutes of Game 7. Do you think he quit in Game 5 as well? The only difference is, in Game 7, by that time, the Lakers were down by 25, so the game was in effect, over.

      In Game 6, Kobe went OFF, for a legendary-type performance in which he scored 50 points and shot 60%+ from the field, and the Lakers still lost. In the 1st half of Game 7, Kobe again went off and the Lakers were down by 15.

      In the games where the Lakers were successful, they had a ton of success pounding it down low. This is effect slowed the Suns running game down, as their perimeter players had to collapse into the lane on defense and couldn’t spring out for easy fast breaks.

      Now if I’m Kobe, and I’m evaluating all of this going into the 2nd half, I’m probably thinking: we’re not winning when I’m shooting alot, we did win when the low post game was activated. My teammates aren’t playing well, as evidenced in Game 5 and 6, but really the only way for me to win at this point, is to exhibit confidence in them and try to get them on a hot streak.

      And yes, of course Kobe is all about his personal greatness, BUT, that greatness is only achieved through winning. It makes absolutely NO sense for Kobe to quit early on in the 2nd half of a game 7 (that could help define his career by beating a higher seeded team) with the game still very much in balance. Furthermore, the path to the Finals that year went through the Clippers and Maverick, two very beatable teams for that year’s Laker team.

      Finally, with regards to “has Kobe ever acted this way” in an elimination game? I find that a very loaded question, the circumstances that led up to this particular performance were very specific in nature, but to suggest that Kobe hasn’t had stretches in important games where he’s taken a back seat offensively is just patently false. I mean, the signature moment of the Kobe-Shaq dynasty was Kobe passing the ball to Shaq on an alley oop (Kobe had 11 assists in that game btw).

      In the 6-24 game which you seem to like to reference, Kobe had 15 rebounds, more than Bynum and Odom combined. Why do I bring this up? Because Kobe does whatever he needs to do to win (because he is a scorer, that tends to be shooting more often than not — but not always)

      Oh – and one more thing. I’m going to allow you to slowly back away from the “utterly dominant” Shaq comment in the 2004 Finals. If you’re talking about someone who got totally used and abused by the Wallaces for most of the series, then I think your English teacher in high school must have left out teaching the definition of “dominant” in place of when and when not to use ad hominem attacks. In 3 of the 5 games, Shaq didn’t exceed 8 rebounds a game, a shockingly low total for someone who averaged 13 rebounds a game during the playoffs that year. BOTH Wallaces outrebounded him in those 3 games. Furthermore, Kobe was the reason they won the 1 game that they did get. It was later also revealed that Tex Winters strongly criticized Shaq for being one of the key factors in an extremely weak Laker defense (citing his complete lack of footwork and desire to play the pick and roll).

      Posted by Brown Mamba | September 18, 2011, 11:23 pm
      • I can’t really point to Kobe as the only reason the Lakers won game #2 in 2004. true that he did hit the three to send the game to OT, but that was the onyly three he hit in five attempts. Luke Walton made the same number of threes and more rebounds and more assists and had no turnovers (Kobe with 5). It could be argued that Walotn was a bigger help than Kobe.

        I can agree that by this time Shaq was no longer rebounding at even his own indifferent level.

        When you look a the numbers for the series of the two, though it is really hard to give any praise to Kobe at all.

        Game #1 10-16 (1-6)
        Game #2 14-27 (1-5)
        Game #3 4-13 (0-4)
        Game #4 8-25 (2-6)
        Game #5 7-21 (0-2)
        Bryant had 19 rebounds in the series and 30 assists in the series. He also had 18 tunrnovers.
        He was good, as always, form the line going 23-25 (10-11 in game #5).

        Shaq

        Game #1 13-16 for 34-11
        Game #2 10-20 for 29-7
        Game #3 7-14 for 14-8
        Game #4 16-21 for 36-20
        Game #5 7-13 for 20-8

        Neither played great and it was clear by game #5, the Lakers were going to mail it in.

        The thing I remember most vividly was right from the very outset of the series, Kobe seemed determined to shoot regardless of having Prince and/or Hamilton draped all over him. Bryant also seemed absolutely determined to shoot form distance. Bryant had only 4 made threes in 23 attempts!!! He shot almost as many three pointers as free throws (and had 11 FT in one game, remember). Bryant also had 18 turnovers.

        I would not call Shaq’s effort in this series a great one, but it was this series that really put the stigma of selfish onto Kobe.

        I don’t think that the Lakers were really the great team that people thought going in to the series. I think the Pistons felt that if they could neutralize Bryant (and they clearly did) and keep Shaq off the boards (not a difficult task at the time), they could win.

        Shaq scored but was largely ineffective defending the paint and Kobe took far too many long range shots with hands in his face.

        Posted by Paulie Walnuts | September 19, 2011, 5:56 am
      • Mamba, sneering at the proper use of English doesn’t make you sound either smart or clever. Don’t use logical fallacies is at or near the top of any English teacher’s list of rules in a persuasive essay or debate-google logical fallacies and English 101 if you doubt it.

        You assert that Kobe only cares about winning as a fact, when it’s an opinion that, frankly, is hotly contested and impossible to prove. This has been questioned many times by many people, including many of the examples I have used and quoted. You have a tendency to use this poorly supported assertion as a hammer in your other arguments to explain away his flaws, as even you pointed out in your article “An Open Letter to Kobe Nation.” You wrote an entire article about how Kobe’s missed potential game-winners were actually clutch and helping his team, when the much simpler assertion is that he’s just not that great a clutch shooter. And here you’ve made the same type of assertion-since Kobe only cares about winning, getting his teammates involved was the ONLY possible way he could have won this game, when in reality this is just the only way to justify his weird behavior without making him look like he quit. I don’t buy it.

        Frankly, I believe Kobe is an All-time great (#13 on my list all time), but I also believe he’s selfish, a front-runner, and a guy who cares more about his legacy than winning, to the point that he will do everything in his power to be the hero and avoid being the goat, even if it damages his team’s chances of winning. Yes, team results matter to your legacy, but so do being the alpha, hitting the big shot, and not being the goat in ignominious losses. Kobe’s no shot second half neatly deferred the blame in this series to his teammates and helped us forget that the Lakers blew a series they had 3 chances to win.

        I’m not saying Kobe didn’t do anything worthwhile in the second half, but he shifted the blame and proved his detractors wrong by purposefully not shooting. Imagine how he would have been fried, incorrectly, if he’d gone 8-16 in the second half and his team had lost, be it by 2 or by 40. I agree with you that at this point the media was very harsh toward Kobe, and I think that his decision not to shoot had more to do with media perception than helping his team win (which we could tell from the first quarter or early in the 3rd quarter this strategy wouldn’t do). Again, the Simmons quote-”He didn’t mind losing a few games if people came away saying ‘Kobe is great; look what happens when he doesn’t shoot.’” There are lots of people who believe this-it’s not an assertion that can be rejected out of hand or discarded as biased when it’s a commonly made argument.

        As for Boyer’s point, there is a right time to shoot and a wrong time to shoot, a very simple distinction. The right time to shoot is when you’re on fire and you’re your team’s best scorer-Kobe in this game. The wrong time to shoot is when you’re ice cold and there are better options on offense-game 7 in the 2010 Finals or the Hornets’ game Boyer referenced are examples. This would be true for any player-MJ in game 6 of the 1996 NBA finals comes to mind. I continually reference the 6-24 game because it shows that Kobe will continue to jack up shots in big games whether or not he should be shooting. Sometimes it’s the right move, sometimes it’s not, but it doesn’t matter to Kobe. The 15 rebounds speak to great hustle, heart and athleticism, no doubt, but they don’t change the fact that he made a strategic error and kept shooting when he clearly didn’t have it, and 4 of his 5 best teammates were having better shooting nights. Why did he make this tactical error? Because, I believe, he didn’t just want to win, he wanted to be the hero.

        As for the 2004 series, I won’t back down from my statement that Shaq was dominant. Shaq averaged 27 PPG and 11 RPG with a TS% of 61%. Is that your definition of abused? It would take a lot of bad defense to make that anything less than a stellar effort. Kobe, on the other hand, scored 23 PPG with a 45% TS%, 3 RPG and 4APG. Yet for reasons I can only attribute to being an enormous glory-hog, Kobe took 113 field goal attempts to only 84 for Shaq. As Paulie pointed out, Kobe wasn’t singularly great in game 2, which LA won (Shaq and Walton were both pretty good), and it was the only time all series that Kobe had even an average game. The game that stands out to me in that series was game 4. With the Pistons up 2-1, Shaq had a Pantheon-level performance 36 points on 16-21 from the floor, 4-11 from the line, and 20 boards. How did the Lakers lose with a beast like that on the inside? Well, Kobe went 8-25 from the floor, only 2 free throws (both makes, 0 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 TO, and 3 PF. The Lakers absolutely needed to pound the ball inside to Shaq every chance they got, yet Kobe managed to dominate the offense, and the team managed to waste this effort. Kobe’s performance is not consistent with a guy who does whatever it takes to win (in this case, defer to Shaq), but it is consistent with a guy who’d damage his team to try to be the hero.

        Has Kobe ever acted this way in an elimination game is not a loaded question at all, but rather one that leads to a conclusion you don’t like. “Have you stopped beating your wife?” is a loaded question because it assumes guilt. My question could have a very simple answer, but it doesn’t. I never suggested that Kobe hasn’t taken the back seat for stretches, but I don’t believe he’s ever shut down for an entire half of an elimination game or another similarly huge game. In other big games, where Kobe’s had a much better supporting cast, he’s continued to hammer away, yet with his worst supporting cast, he took a back seat to a degree I don’t believe he’s ever done before. And since since you’ve failed to provide even one similar example, I stand by my original statement.

        In summary, I still believe Kobe quit, and I haven’t seen the evidence that would convince me otherwise. I doubt I’ll convince anyone of anything, either, because Kobe’s too charged a subject. That said, I still respect your writing even when I disagree with it.

        Posted by Lochpster | October 3, 2011, 7:46 pm
        • Interesting to hear the theories into Kobe’s mindset that people want to believe. And please keep drowning us with this Kobe is #13 garbage, wait, what # is he, I forgot?

          I already gave you one example of Kobe only shooting 10x in game 2 of the hornets series, and still basically dominating the game. I’m not quite sure why people think that some magic # of shots is the key. Every game is different. You’re not going to shoot the same # of shots every game. Kobe definitely shot less overall throughout the suns series as compared to the regular season, so did he quit for the entire series then? Actually rewatch the game, and objectively tell me if you think Kobe didn’t give good effort throughout the game? Alvin Gentry is on record, the suns assistant at the time, plus I’ve read of several lakers coaches say Kobe played hard, not sure why you think you know more than them. Kobe didn’t take a backseat, as you seem to think he did. And just like anything else he does, if he shoots 30x in that game, he would get blasted for that, too. He’s in a no-win situation.

          Now, to everyone’s beloved, flawless jordan. Let me hear your explanation for his only shooting 8x, (1/2 of Kobe’s shot attempts, 8 less) in game 5 of the 1989 ECF. Now, if you want an outlier, there you go. And speaking of great teammates, jordan’s teammates throughout his career were amazing overall, and to take your words, he continued to hammer away throughout his entire career.

          Posted by boyer | October 4, 2011, 9:01 am
        • Loch,

          I agree with that summation. Your logic is sound and thus the conclusion is as well.

          I also wanted to let you know that after more consideration, I would endorse A-Train for the HOF.

          The fact that he played so many minutes in the ABA before coming to the NBA likely took a lot out of him (as it historically odes to all big men). Combined with what he did for Jacksonville in college led me to conclude the A-Train was more valuable than I had originally given him credit for.

          This is the only manner with which I could express that to you.

          Posted by paulie walnuts | October 6, 2011, 2:32 pm
        • Loch — I’m going to leave most of your comment alone since it relies mostly on conjecture on your part which I don’t think I’m going to change your mind on (I’ve provided play by play evidence as well as strong reasoning as to why it wouldn’t be in Kobe’s interest to tank one of his career’s legacy defining games. Your response? That he’s just “weird”.)

          I am though still interested into digging into this notion that Kobe is the reason that Lakers lost to the Pistons. What most people don’t realize who didn’t watch the Lakers that much that season was this was a different Laker team than the first 3 years they won the championship (you can even make a very valid argument that Kobe was the clear alpha dog starting with their last championship together). Kobe was the definitive alpha dog in 2004 and the entire Laker offense ran through him. Shaq was older and hampered by being out of shape, often taking players off. He frequently was out of position to catch the ball in the low post. His 4th quarter free throw shooting was also a huge liability making him primarily a 3 quarter player.

          The result of this is that in the first 3 rounds of the playoffs that year, Shaq only beat Kobe in scoring in 6 out of 17 games. Against the Spurs, he was almost an afterthought for most of the series, barely cracking 10 shots per game in the last 2 closeout games of the series. Against a weak Rockets team, he even chimed in with all of 7 points in one unmemorable game. In almost every game during those playoffs, he was limited to under 15 shots.

          The genius of Larry Brown and the Pistons is that they realized quickly that because of Shaq’s effort and role, he would only have so many touches in the Laker offense. Tayshaun did a great job on Kobe and the Wallaces shut down any penetration he could get into the lane. In short, yes, Kobe had a lousy series. HOWEVER, I think it is a misnomer to think that Shaq could have gone for 50 if not Kobe. There is absolutely zero evidence, based on the previous series, to suggest that he was capable of any larger role than he played in the Finals.

          And yes, I know your stats and TS% numbers are going to suggest that Shaq had a “Pantheon-like” or “utterly dominant” series (your English teacher may refer to these as “hyperbole” :) ). I know no one that thinks Shaq had close to a great series against the Pistons. In 3 of the 5 games, he was completely outhustled by both Wallaces. He defense was terrible and he was the key leak in a poor Laker defense.

          At some point in the future, perhaps I’ll take this topic into more detail in a separate post, because I think it’s an interesting discussion and another misnomer that anti-Kobe folks like to use in their repertoire to criticize Kobe.

          Posted by Brown Mamba | October 10, 2011, 10:20 pm
          • Mamba,

            If you read my comment above, I agree with your assessment.

            The Lakers were not a very good team. The Pistons defended Kobe brilliantly and likely prevented him from attacking the rim. Shaq scored mostly on “garbage time” points; that being stick backs and offensive rebounds. Shaq seldom worked to get into a position to demand the ball.

            I don’t know if considering Kobe the
            #13 (likely to be #11) best player of all time puts me in the “Anti-Kobe” crowd; please let me know. I just can’t place him any higher when I consider all the evidence.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | October 11, 2011, 8:21 am
          • Wait, what # is he? What is this evidence or lack of evidence? Kobe’s regarded my most as the best laker of all time, and rightfully so, the most storied franchise in nba history, and he doesn’t even crack your top 10. Even idiot simmons has him #7 or #8. I can only possibly see a case made for wilt, kareem, jordan, and maybe magic being ahead of kobe right now.

            I mean, seriously, you have to look pretty hard to dis Kobe that much, but I’m not that surprised. He’s been a beast offensively and defensively still and throughout most of his career. He has probably the 2 best games of all time, the best quarter ever, scoring 30, not missing a shot, 4 AS MVPs, most ever. If you don’t want to put him first or 2nd, whatever, just make a logical opinion. It’s somewhat like Federer, fans make up new arguments to dis the current greats. It was Federer would never be better than sampras until he won the french, but never mind that Sampras only made it to the french semis once, while Fed has made it to the semis 6x, finals 5x, and won it once, and sampras never had to go up against the best claycourter of all time either.

            It’s like in that game 5 of the ECF in 1989, jordan only shot 8x, way less than Kobe did in game 7 of 2006. But, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say that Jordan quit in that game. Whenever you hear something like magic or bird or jordan, followed by: they never did that or would never have done that(referring to something negative), it’s simply not true. The only time I’ve seen someone quit in huge games, meaning not giving good effort, was lebron, in the past 2 playoffs, his effort level was extremely low, and it was obvious he wasn’t mentally there.

            Posted by boyer | October 11, 2011, 9:27 am
          • The comparative evidence of Kobe to the others I have ahead of him. Again,the list is:

            Jordan, Russell, Kareem, Bird, Magic, Wilt, Duncan, West, Robertson, Hakeem, Moses, Shaq and then Kobe.

            When you compare the volume, rate and environment of each player, that is the order I have chosen.

            There are elements that are debatable, but I have also considered those. This is NOT a list that is comprised without checking and double checking. Many questions were asked and many hours of research were put in.

            It’s odd how Boyer never uses nor considers any other data than the stuff he cherry picks and then does his best Rush Limbaugh impression to alter, distort and twist his evidence to support his conclusion. It is also odd that Boyer discredits Bill Simmons and then will cite Bill Simmons when it supports his choices.

            I would wager that Boyer never had an opportunity to see Magic, Bird, Jordan, West, Robertson, Kareem, Moses or Wilt WHILE they were playing. I would further wager that Boyer is no more than 35 years old. more likely 28 or so. The lack of understanding that he consistently shows towards those that he likely never saw play live indicates his age.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | October 11, 2011, 11:18 am
          • A further point is that Game #5 of the 1989 Eastern conference Finals was NOT an elimination game.

            Some of the contextual elements that you choose to ignore in your vacuum world:

            That was the farthest the Bulls had gone into the playoffs since Jordan’s arrival.

            That was the furthest the Bulls franchise had gotten since 1981 when they were broomed by the Celtics in the EC Semi-Finals.

            The Bulls pushed the defending and future champions of the NBA to a game #7 the next year.

            The year after pushing them to game #7, The Bulls SWEPT the defending NBA champs en-route to the first of three titles.

            I would agree with your point that it is difficult to determine when a player “quits”.

            The comparison that you use of a non elimination game in a team/player’s ascendency is not congruent to that of an established player attempting to maintain elite status.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | October 11, 2011, 11:33 am
          • Funny disclaimer about all these supposed hours of research. You did all this research and still came up with this junk? Great.

            I find it quite humorous. Basically, you named every elite player in history, except for Mikan, understandable, and Erving, not understandable, as better than Kobe. Quite ironic, but not surprising, coming from you.

            Simmons is an idiot, that is obvious. He hates kobe and hates the lakers. For him to give any props to kobe, which listing him outside of top 5, is not giving props, but compared to you, is.

            Just one thing about Russell, he played in an era where scoring and shooting pct. was at an all-time high, and he was a center, so obviously bigs will on average have high shooting pct. than smalls. Russell was a below average off. player during his time. His shooting pct. were awful. And I don’t think he ever was better than the 3rd best scorer for any given year on his team, maybe 2nd best one year. He credits too much for playing on stacked teams and having the 2nd best coach ever. Compared to Wilt, he is nothing.

            How ridiculous is it to basically dismiss jordan’s 8 shot game because it wasn’t an elimination game. The 06 lakers had virtually no chance to even win that series, let alone the title. The 89 bulls came within 2 games of the finals, and since the pistons won the finals that year, it’s somewhat fair to say that the 89 bulls were 2 wins away from the title that year. Take away game 6 of the 06 lakers series, and kobe’s 6 shots were basically on par for that series. It’s sloppy journalism and untruths at best, that Kobe quit in that game. It’s just ironic that jordan doesn’t get the hate for his low shooting effort, and much lower than kobe, on a contender as opposed to a non-contender, and a huge outlier compared to his other games in that series.

            Posted by boyer | October 11, 2011, 1:11 pm
          • Boyer,

            Check you facts. The NBA had league FG% ranging from 38% to 44% when Russell played. They were clearly NOT at all time highs. Though Russell was often 3rd on the Celtics in scoring it was his DEFENSE that made him great. Could have Russell scored more? Yes. There is always the converse to offense that must be considered. Russell was not a BELOW average offensive player; his results were in fact AT or ABOVE league average.

            It is not ridiculous to dismiss Jordan’s game #5 in 1989. What I was pointing out is that the comparison is not a good one to Kobe’s game #7.

            Elimination games have a different meaning that non elimination games.

            Kobe was already an established star already with 3 rings.

            The point of the accusation of Kobe quitting in game #7 is one towards his elite status.

            Jordan had not YET solidified that by 1989.

            Also, you are an absolute idiot.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | October 11, 2011, 1:28 pm
          • One other tidbit for you:

            If you EVER bothered to check ANYTHING, you would know that the 1989 Bulls were 47-35. The 2005-06 Lakers were 45-37.

            If you want to claim Jordan’s Bulls as a contender, then you MUST consider Kobe’s Lakers a contender.

            The Bulls were the 6 seed and the Lakers the 7 seed. Not much of a difference. Except the results, of course.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | October 11, 2011, 1:34 pm
          • One other thought, Boyer.

            Are you really trying to compare the defense of the 1989 Pistons, the TWO time WORLD CHAMPION Pistons to the 2006 Phoenix Suns?

            Seriously?

            You don’t think going against what is thought to be the toughest defensive squad of the past two decades could result in a poor shooting day? Who else was going to get doubles on that Bulls team? Pippen? Not yet. Dave Corzine? John Paxson? Sam Vincent? bill Cartwright? Charles Davis? Jack Haley? Will Perdue? The fact that the Bulls even got that far is testament to Jordan.

            To close, in light of even further evidence, you are still an absolute idiot.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | October 11, 2011, 2:21 pm
          • Ah, the name calling has occurred, great.

            Stillshining already explained it pretty well. The double standard for Kobe I often talk about it is crystal clear with you. Whether you recognzie and admit it, is your choice. Personally, I don’t think Jordan quit, but for reasons shining and I have already mentioned, if someone thinks Kobe quit, then it is obvious Jordan quit even moreso. Your argument whether it’s game 5 or 7, big deal, it’s a playoff game. Regardless of team record, that’s moot, the bulls were 2 wins from the finals, and had a lot more pieces in place on that team. Jordan had already won the 88 mvp, and Kobe had 0 MVPs in 06, though he should’ve had at least 2 by then, but that’s the voters for you. Pippen was on that team, maybe not all-world pippen but still. The lakers had smush/kwame/walton in the starting lineup. Are you seriously comparing the talent as fairly even between the 2 teams? You talk about how schooled/researched you are in nba history, please.

            I’m not comparing the suns 06 defense to the 89 pistons defense. This is about shot attempts/quitting. The worst defense in the league can double team someone, can’t they? Kobe was told to get everyone involved, which he did. Kobe was routinely doubled, so he passed out of it, which he does more often than not, regardless of biased, uninformed opinions of him shooting too much. It’s just ironic how Kobe gets blamed now for not shooting enough(I guess 16 isn’t enough), but then once he reaches some magic # of shots(usually 20), it’s too much and detrimental to his team.

            I will say one thing, it seems shooting pct. were down during most of russell’s days, but scoring was up. I’ve seen old games, and the defense was terrible back then, which makes you wonder how bad of shooters these guys really were. Cousy was under 40%, and he’s supposed to be this gold standard for shooting, not good. Russell wasn’t a good off. player. What other all-time great wasn’t a great off. player, let alone an average or below average off. player, especially in an extremely weak era of basketball as compared to today? The answer is nobody. Russell would be a 3 today, not a 5. He’s about the same size as durant. Actually, they’re exactly the same size, just checked. Except, russell can’t shoot or do even 1/2 the things durant can do. And I’d like to see him play 4 or 5 and how that goes. I mean Wilt just abused Russell, it wasn’t even close, naturally as Wilt should do. Wilt was way more athletic, stronger, and much bigger.

            Not surprising to see Kobe at #30 on basketball-reference all his place for all-time greats. Even to you, that’s a big snub, which is saying a lot. Nobody gets the shaft like Kobe does. That is so obvious, which is why his place in history will never be fully accurate.

            Posted by boyer | October 12, 2011, 8:26 am
          • Boyer,

            You are still an idiot.

            The size does not matter, it is the skill. Olajuwan was only 6′ 9″, Barkley only 6′ 4″. Russell was lightning quick and had great leaping ability.

            Your inability to understand relative context is obnoxious.

            Lastly, if you ever read Scythian, you would notice that I repeatedly said that I believe Kobe nor any player of his stature would quit.

            Russell won 5 MVP awards. 11 championships. You cannot rightfully marginalize those measurements and then use them in favor of another player (Bryant).

            Dominique Wilkins was every bit the offensive player that Bryant was; should ‘Nique be in the top 10 or top 5? If you respond “no” and cite defensive difference, then why couldn’t Russel’s defense be used in his favor?

            Lastly, there is no double standard. There is only the standard and it is the same for everyone. Compare the volume, rate and environment. Gather as much data as you can, dismiss nothing, evaluate everything.

            The only perceived double standard is that what the evidence shows as real truth, you can’t (or won’t) accept because it does not agree with your desired reality.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | October 12, 2011, 11:49 am
          • I would hardly say that Wilt “abused” Russell. You may want to check the record on that again.

            Cousy was not ever referred to as a “gold standard” for shooting. Jerry West or Rick Barry, yes. Cousy was a facilitator.

            And Basketball Reference’s ranking is a users voting poll.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | October 12, 2011, 11:54 am
          • I won’t drop to your level of continually using illogical arguments and name calling, but hopefully that works for you.

            Hakeem is listed at 7 ft, 255. He made several all defensive teams, he was a good sized center, lean, but strong, and very agile, and nowhere near as skinny as russell. Barkley was not a good defender, never made an all defensve team, at least partially to his small size. But, if barkley played in russell’s day, he’d probably be considered a ‘big’ big. Russell’s the same size as durant, stronger, but still the same size. Can you just imagine durant guarding Howard? I’d like to see that. That’s basically the same as russell guarding wilt. Sure, shaq was skilled, but why was he so awesome? Mainly because he’s ridiculously bigger than everyone, meaning, he’s a lot stronger than everyone else. When do guards postup usually? Almost only and almost always against smaller defenders, strength wise and probably more importantly height wise. The better defensive teams or players are routinely bigger teams/players. It’s hard to be a good defensive team with smaller players. And a lazy player, but who is big for his position will be better defensively as a lazy smaller player for his position, that’s always been the case. Russell greatly benefited from an era where players were much smaller and weaker as opposed to today, and he didn’t have to do much offensively.

            Are you really trying to say Nique is better than Kobe? That’s so ridiculous, that needs no further ezplanation.

            Maybe you should take your own advice in evaluating playes, it might help you.

            Cousy’s shooting pct. were awful, and he’s highly regarded as a great shooter. True or false? Defenses in cousy’s day were considerably worse as they are today. True or falset?

            I know what basketball reference’s poll is. Even for someone like you, isn’t it a bit funny that none of the true elite players in nba history are listed much lower, and considerably lower at that for Kobe, other than Kobe?

            Posted by boyer | October 12, 2011, 4:00 pm
          • Cousy is not regard as great shooter. False. Perhaps measured agaisnt his peer group, that may have been the case.

            though Hakeem is listed at 7′ 0″, he was, in fact, 6’9″.

            It is silly to say that Barkley would have been a beast in the 1960′s; he was a beast in the 1980′s and 1990′s. Are you really this dense??

            I will try to use your own argument toweard you:

            You state many times that “NBA experts think Kobe is a great shooter”, or something to that effect.

            Don’t these same NBA experts all claim that Russell is the greatest or 2nd greatest player ever?

            Which experts are right and why would one expert be correct and the other wrong?

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | October 13, 2011, 9:05 am
          • It’s also interesting how you claim that Russell benefited form playing against smaller players and then attempt to discredit Russell by saying he was only 6′ 9″.

            Well, which was it? Was he bigger than everybody else? Or just better?

            Was he bigger than Wilt? Russell was the same height as Johnny Red Kerr. If you bothered to check, you would see that Russell was not the biggest and that every team had at least one player and often two bigger, yet none better. Heinsohn was 6′ 7″.

            It is also interesting that you snidely refer to me as “someone like you” yet if I were to agree with you that Kobe is a “top 5 player”, likely I would be as smart as you.

            I have no idea why you worship Kobe. You believe that I worship Jordan, but as a Pistons fan, I can tell you emphatically, I do not. I grew up in Lansing watching Magic play in HS and college. I have seen greatness first hand.

            The difference that we have is that I am objective in what I write; or had you not noticed that there are things about which I agree with you on.

            Where we diverge is that I have done the work and you have not, yet you still wish to believe that your assumptive based knowledge is superior. It is not. Use the data and learn to evaluate it better. Ask questions, a lot of them.

            You say “NBA experts regard. . .” often. Well, is that true? What makes it true? What is the evidence that supports the claim that Kobe is great outside shooter? How does his FG% compare with others? What are the reasons for the difference? If Kobe is better than West, why doesn’t the record show this? West has higher FG%, more PPG, more assists, more rebounds, West was a great defender,a s great as Kobe. Where is the evidence that Kobe is better than West?

            If you believe Kobe is a top five, then why don’t you list your top 10 players in order?

            Have you ever even thought about it; or do you simply offhandedly place Kobe there because that is where you WANT Kobe to be? Give us your list. Put it here for the record.

            There is the real truth and then there is a desired reality.

            I seek the truth.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | October 13, 2011, 9:20 am
          • I didn’t write Dominquie was better then Kobe, I wrote that ‘Nique was very comparable to Kobe OFFENSIVELY.

            Check the numbers. Nique is listed as 6’7″ 200 and Bryant at 6′ 6″ 200. though, often that data is unreliable.

            Dominque 38113 MP
            Bryant 40145 MP

            Nique 26668 Points
            Bryant 27868 Points

            Nique 7169 Rebounds
            Bryant 5829 Rebounds

            Nique 2677 Assists
            Bryant 5154 Assists

            Nique .461/.319/.811 FG/3PT/FT%
            Bryant .454/.339/.837 FG/3PT/FT%

            Nique 24.8/6.7/2.5 ppg/rpg/apg
            Bryant 25.3/5.3/4.7 ppg/rpg/apg

            ‘Nique played more on the block and Kobe more on the perimeter which goes to the disparity in rebounds and assists (though does’nt explain it all), but the OFFENSE is really close. Kobe better from distance (as most guards of his generation are), and better at the line (where Kobe is clearly one of the all time greats).

            The OFFENSIVE RESULTS are far closer than you wish to believe.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | October 13, 2011, 9:32 am
          • Cousy is regarded as a great shooter, but whatever. The fact that defenses during russell’s days were absolutely awful, and players still shot extremely poorly, doesn’t that show how bad of offensive players they were back then? I mean, I’m not necessarily talking about athleticism, I’m talking about skill wise. People may complain about lack of fundamental some today, whether that’s true or not, but the skills players have today are so much better than 40-50 years ago. Now, if we want to talk about athleticism, that’s a completely entirely different thing even more in favor of today’s players, and almost everyone back then couldn’t even come close to playing in the nba today. But, it’s hard to compare eras. It might be pointless to compare eras, but I like to at least try. And I think comparing 2010 to 1960 is a no brainer.

            Heights are often wrong, but Hakeem was a legit center. Maybe he wasn’t 7, but he wasn’t 6-9 either.

            I’ll disregard your hostility towards me. You completely didn’t touch on size and defense. Size does matter, a lot. You bring up Hakeem’s supposed lack of size at center, but fail to realize how important it is that being bigger is important for defense.

            Well, you have to define who the experts are first. This is one thing I look at when certain awards are given out at the ends of each year. When coaches or GMs or people who actually played the game and know what they’re talking about, then the awards are usually pretty accurate. When you have media voting, then who knows what’s going to happen, and some guy like Steve Nash might end up with 2 MVPs. At least through their first 12 years, do you realize that Mark Price and Steve Nash have eeirly similar stats, but not once was Price ever even close to being considered MVP and as highly touted as Nash has been over the past 5-6 years?

            Anyway, if you stay within each era, and don’t cross eras, then sure, Russell has to be in the top 5-8, maybe first, who knows. I do wish there was a way to determine who is the best all time, but there isn’t, contrary to popular believe. You can’t unequivocally say jordan is the best, and it’s even sloppier to say he’s easily the best. If you take the best players from each era, then each of those players, has a case to being regarded as the best of all time. Russell is the winningest player of all time, so from that standpoint, he’s the best. If I look back and watch him play and compare him to today’s players, I am not impressed with his play, at least regarding the true elite players of all time. Wilt dominated individually the head to head matchups, but unfortunately for Wilt, his coaches/teammates were much worse than Russell’s, just the way it is. I look at individual accomplishments, titles, longevity, longevity with high peak performance, and skills, and for you to say Kobe is out of the top 10 is utterly ridiculous. Wherever you want to put him, whatever, but out of the top 10? I mean, please wake up. And Dr. J is another issue. I think he won 3 titles with 6 finals appearance, and had 4 MVPs.

            I’m not quite sure why Kobe gets all the hate he does throughout his career, it’s much moreso than the average elite athlete. But, when you hear that Pau is the best player on the lakers or MVP of the finals, that couldn’t be further from the truth, but anything to discredit Kobe, that’s always been the case.

            Posted by boyer | October 13, 2011, 9:38 am
          • Again, WHO has cited Cousy as a “great shooter” Who has siad or written that? List that referece. find where it has been said or written and pass it along.

            You can compare eras. You just have to make adjustments by taking into account the league norms.

            Ture that players today are more athletic and generally better conditioned, but the CONVERSE of that is also true. You cannot take a 2002 Kobe and place him in 1962; you have to adjust to what Kobe would be had he been born in 1942 with poverty, racism and no shoe company designing footwear specifically for him. You also have to consider that Kobe would have been lynched if he were accused of rape in 1962.

            Yes, I do know that price and Nash are similar, with the exception that Nash led the league in assists 5 times. Leading the league is significant and only Cousy (8), Roberstson (6), and Stockton (9) have done it more. Nash has also played much more (34,169 minutes to 21,560), as Price was injured and had a shorter career. Price never came close to an MVP? Reasons: Jordan, Magic, Bird, Hakeem, Barkley, K. Malone? Nash had a window and used the back door to get not one but two. Nash will go to the HOF, though and likely be regarded as a top 50-60 player.

            I have Doc as #21 on my list. I had him higher, but his playoff numbers in the NBA aren’t too impressive 21.9/6.7/3.1, and his regular season does pop eyes either 22.0/6.7/3.9. You want to talk bad defense, the ABA, where Doc did had his best work was really bad. Doc was great in the ABA, but it was a big scoring league with little to no defense. Doc in the ABA 28.7/12.1/4.8 and in the playoffs 31.1/12.9/5.1. Watching Doc in the ABA was awesome. The high flying, above the rim stuff was breathtaking to see. The way he could curl the ball up into his forearm or palm it with 3 fingers allowed him to perform unique feats. Yet, after joining the NBA, Doc was not that same player. He did play in 3 NBA Finals, but only won after they got 3 Time MVP Moses and had a great supporting cast (cheeks, Toney, C. Jones, B. Jones). Doc only won 1 NBA MVP. Great player, but so are the other 19 I have ahead of him.

            Kobe is a great player, but so are the other 12 I have ahead of him.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | October 13, 2011, 10:19 am
          • I think if you’re using the rape card, enough said.

            There were several better players than Nash every single year as well. And it’s not like Price finished anywhere near the top 10, ever.

            You do realize Kobe received 0 total MVP votes in 2005, while guys like Marion and P.J. Brown actually had a vote each? You might want to check all-nba teams and all-defensive teams sometime. Kobe has now performed at a high peak level for 11-12 straight years now? Who else can say that? Not many. And he just came off another first team all-nba season. I mean, you honestly think Kobe is #13? That is just some sad joke. All those guys are great, sure. Hakeem and West over Kobe? It’s so obvious Kobe was greater than both of those and his career has been much greater, but whatever. Kobe has a lot more accomplishments than everyone, except maybe 3-4 guys and has the hardware as well, and if he wasn’t shafted in MVP voting was so long, he’d have at least 3-4 of those. It’s unfortunate there are so many untrue myths about Kobe out there. Why this article even had to been written to inform the misinformed is a prime example. It’s unfortunate his place in history is already skewed.

            Posted by boyer | October 13, 2011, 11:00 am
          • I read your statements that “it is obvious that Kobe is better than West”.

            What i have asked for is what is the EVIDENCE that Kobe is better than West or Hakeem?

            List your case. Site your rationale. Don’t tell us, EXPLAIN it to us.

            You keep repeating yourself, but offer nothing of substance. Why is Kobe better? What results has Kobe produced that make this true?

            Yes, it is stupid for Kobe to have received 0 votes for the MVP, but you have to get beyond that. It was an exception and it happens. Price was a very good player but should not have been in the top 10 of MVP voting, though he was very valuable.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | October 13, 2011, 11:15 am
          • I already listed stuff, you fail to recognize. I’m not going to go into a big list of accomplishments, it’s tedious, and frankly, I don’t like it when others do. I said just look at the high peak level of a player. Very few performed for such a long time at kobe’s level, and he’s not done. I look at the product we see on the floor, so regardless of what you speculate might happen if Kobe played in the 60s is irrelevant. I look at the players then, and the only true elite player back then was Wilt, and then right after him, you have Kareem, Oscar, West, maybe Baylor.

            Just look at the titles list of the supposed elite players. Russell with 11, then jordan/kareem with 6, then kobe/magic with 5. There’s no way around it. Any logical observation, and Kobe is easily a top 10 player of all time. He’s been an elite offensive and defensive player year after year. Contrary to popular belief, he’s the only elite player to lead a team to back to back titles with as bad of a supporting cast. Heck, stoudemire’s supporting cast performed way better than kobe’s cast in 2010 west. conf. finals, but kobe was the difference. Kobe is apart of 2 separate dynasties, only jordan, and maybe russell can say that. He’s already 6th or 8th, depending on what list you look at for all-time scoring. West? I mean, come on dude, what has west done that kobe hasn’t done and done ridiculously better? What areas of the game is west better, other than pure shooting? I would argue that Kobe’s a better shooter, just not a better pure shooter.

            It’s funny when you say explain stuff, when I have some, and you’re the one who hasn’t. Kobe getting 0 votes in 2005 isn’t just some exception, it’s never happened before, and probably never will again, for someone of his stature to get shafted like that. I don’t even remember what we were talking about initially. Oh yea, you continually dis Kobe by saying he’s #13, without any substance as you like to say.

            Posted by boyer | October 13, 2011, 11:50 am
          • Boyer,

            You are wrong when in the claim that I haven’t listed objective things comparing Kobe to tohers.

            Check this very thread and you will see where I compared him to Jordan. I earlier compared him to Dominique (offensively).

            I understand what Kobe’s accomplishments are, and when i put them in comparison and context to the others, he comes out behind them.

            I have considered everything that you have said and there is truth in much of it, but is it absolute? Are the interpretations precises? Are the conclusions correct? Without adding the other objective evidence along with the subjective and the environmental (and yes, winning titles is environment) evidence, you cannot reach the real truth.

            What I asked you for is WHY is Kobe better than west?

            What makes him better? Just winning titles? Is that all? Checking peak performance? What are you including in “peak”? What does that mean? Will you define that for us?

            Is this tedious? Yes. If you wish to compile a good list that is representative and without bias, then the tedious work is what is needed.

            I am sorry, the answer” because I say so” just doesn’t work for me.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | October 13, 2011, 12:50 pm
          • What I am interpreting your argument to be is:

            When the Lakers win, it is because of Kobe. When the Lakers have lost, it is because his teammates didn’t perform or weren’t good enough.

            The trouble with that line of reasoning is that it applies to EVERY player. Any player that one wishes to root for can make the same argument, but it does not make it true.

            What is relevant is that I can say Jerry West played 36,571 minutes, scored 25, 182 points. West averaged 27.0/5.8/6.7 in the regular season and in the playoffs was even better 29.1/5.6/6.3, West was 1st team All NBA 10 times and 1st team all defense 5 times (which was his final 5 seasons as they didn’t have those awards until 1968-69) West had a career FG% of .474 and a career FT% of .814. est did not benefit from having a 3 point line and many of his FGA were from that distance. West never won an MVP award, but finished 2nd four straight years and finished in the top five 8 times. It was a tough peer group with Russell, Robertson, Chamberlain, Kareem winning most of the awards. Yet, at the time he played, it is clear that West was very highly regarded not only as an individual talent, but also as a great teammate.

            You cannot be ambigusous when trying to create a heirarchy. Set up criteria, establish levels and adjust for differences in era.

            You can never say with any absolute authority that those that played 50 years ago could not play today. The players then would have to be given ALL the benefits that the modern players have. Salary, training, nutrition, equipment, better coaching, better travel, better accommodations, better arenas to play.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | October 13, 2011, 2:38 pm
          • You’re crazy and clearly part of “kobe nation” shaq’s numbers in the 04 finals were (all rounded up) 27 pts 11 boards on 63% shooting from the field, kobe’s were 23 pts, 3 boards, 4 ast 2 stls on 38% from the field 17% from downtown, john hollinger wrote a giant article a few years ago and had kobe’s performance in this series listed as one of the worst finals perfomances of ALL TIME. and shaq averaged about 24-15 in the spurs series shooting about 64% from the field… What more proof do you need that kobe should have been deferring to shaq? I think the majority of people commenting on these threads have more than out argued your points but unfortunately, and i don’t want to hurt your feeling, your just another Kobe Bryant dick rider.

            Posted by jon | January 7, 2012, 8:32 pm
      • go watch the footage of the 04 finals sometimes, kobe hogged the ball like nothing i’ve ever seen before if he had just thrown the ball into shaq more they easily could have won one or two more games and made the series competitive, alas kobe didn’t do that and the numbers more than prove that he was a cancer on that 04 lakers team

        Posted by jon | January 7, 2012, 8:10 pm
  8. when you say inconsistency in arguments, do you mean like saying that MVP awards were easier to win in Jordan’s day and then follow that up with citing Steve Nash’s two MVP awards as being poor selections?

    You mean that type of double talk?

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | September 18, 2011, 7:56 pm
    • Whatever way you look at it, I guess. Doesn’t seem like double talk to me. Seems like clear evidence. If it’s easier to win MVPs in the 2000s, then Kobe would’ve won more than 1, but that’s not the case. The media votes for MVP, which is why Jordan, absolutely adored by the media unlike any other athlete in history won his share, and Kobe, hated as much as any athlete in history only won 1, while Nash totally undeservedly wins 2 and Dirk wins 1. Just look at 2005 for enough evidence. Kobe garnered 0 total MVP votes that year, while Marion and P. J. Brown actually got 1 vote each. Good thing the media doesn’t vote for the other awards. We actually get some accurate awards in there somewhat, other than MVP.

      Posted by boyer | September 19, 2011, 7:48 am
  9. I am not sure where the evidence is that Kobe is hated by the media. You certainly don’t hear anything other than adulation during a Lakers game broadcast.

    You need to get off using the “media is against Kobe” argument. It just doesn’t hold. The media is interested in SELLING and Kobe has been a HUGE commodity since he came in the league.

    Be that as it may, the 1980′s and the 1960′s were really difficult times to get an MVP. Jordan had Bird, Magic, Kareem and Moses to contend with.

    I can agree that Steve Nash certainly didn’t deserve his second, but what other year would you think Bryant could have or should have won? You could probably make a better case for Garnett or even LeBron the years when Nash won.

    I just don’t see it.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | September 19, 2011, 10:42 am
    • Where’ve you been the past 8-10 years? Are you really not admitting the obvious hate and bias against Kobe from a lot of the media? And no, the hate and bias Kobe gets from the media doesn’t have to happen every time for it to be evident. I’m sure barkley has applauded Kobe before, but that doesn’t mean he incorrectly assesses him continually, and inaccurately stated that Kobe quit during game 7 in 2006, which most of the media thinks, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Kobe was giving max effort, and playing harder than anyone else in that game, not to mention that his lakers had 0% chance of winning the title that year. Whereas, Lebron obviously didn’t get max effort in several playoff games in each of the past 2 seasons, which in both seasons, his teams had excellent, legit chances to win the title. I bring up lebron because the media treats him in almost the exact opposite as it treats Kobe for a lot of things, I’m surprised people don’t get this. Whenever Lebron fails, it’s someone’s else’s fault, almost every time. The media mostly applauded his good teammates in cavs before they lost in the playoffs, then it was his teammates fault. This year it was spoelstra and bosh’s faults because lebron and wade can’t run plays like they’re supposed to run and stand around mostly pounding the ball, routinely stalling the offense. What sweet justice that the first year he goes to miami, that an eerily similar constructed in the 2011 mavs as the 09 and 10 cavs not only wins the title, but beats lebron’s heat in the process, in which lebron not only played awful, but routinely didn’t give max effort or anywhere near max effort for much of the series

      It’s not just that Kobe gets ripped, every player deserves his ripping from time to time, it’s the obvious inconsistencies from nearly every media player who rips him. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, just re-read some of the posts on this thread. He gets bashed for shooting too much, and then when he doesn’t shoot much, he gets bashed just as much, and people speculate negatively on the pyschological battle Kobe is trying to play. It’s exactly rather amusing some of the time. And then he ‘trusts his teammates’, whatever that means, and they are playing well, then he has amazing teammates, but if his teammates are sucking and he’s going off, playing amazing ball, then he’s being a ballhog and selfish, pick your poison, he can’t win, and there’s some myth out there that he didn’t play team ball and trust his teammates before Gasol, that’s total hogwash. Damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t. If you need to remind yourself, read almost anything Abbot has to say about Kobe, and even in one of the very few times he might applaud Kobe, he usually does it with sarcasm. I just told you about the MVP voting, or did you just completely dismiss that? Nobody is selling anything. Not sure where you come up with this stuff. The media certainly isn’t. Maybe the nba is marketing its stars, just like any other year, but the nba is not the media, last time I checked.

      Posted by boyer | September 19, 2011, 12:51 pm
  10. It depends on who think “the media” is.

    Clearly, there are plenty of sportswriters out there that don’t know their hind end from the five second line, but they get paid to write stories and columns. That is the selling part.

    I have had many a discussion with many a baseball writer who had HOF votes and they were absolute morons. You have to accept that.

    Dipshits like Rob Parker and Skip Bayless don’t know a damn thing except that they get paid to blow things up by pushing adjectives and adverbs together. And I have heard Tim Legler and Stuart Scott almost get boners when they speak of Kobe.

    Writers like Bill Simmons does a really good job, is well researched and very objective. I don’t agree with everything he writes and often I question his process, yet he is hardly a Kobe hater.

    Neither you nor anyone else outside of the floor can attest to what was happening in any players minds. You should dismiss that as well as anyone else who can make such a claim. Some on here have used what they have seen and the statistical results to reach a conclusion, yet each side is only speculative, at best. There is no definitive evidence that Bryant quit or that he was playing harder than everyone else.

    What you need to come to grips with is that Kobe is not Jordan, Kobe will never be Jordan. Kobe has never been close to Jordan. THAT IS NOT AN INSULT AS NO ONE HAS OR IS LIKELY TO COME CLOSE TO JORDAN.

    Kobe’s misfortune in terms of MVP awards is similar to Jerry West; there was always somebody better. This doesn’t mean that the voters always make the right or best choice, but there is always somebody else for everybody.

    Kobe is a terrific player, as was Doc J., but neither is or was as good or even close to the greatest ever.

    In 25 years, the notion that Kobe Bryant was thought of as being close to or perhaps better than Jordan will a sick sick joke.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | September 19, 2011, 7:45 pm
    • You’re right, I don’t try to speculate what goes on in a player’s mind, but most Kobe haters, and many on this thread do, which is complete nonsense. Just re-watch the game. Do you actually think Kobe wasn’t playing hard? Media and fans alike don’t need to look very hard to find an excuse against Kobe, unless he stays in the ‘magic’ # of shots/half, whatever this magic # is, maybe 7-9. If he strays outside of that, then he gets bashed, doesn’t matter if it’s too high or too low. I just find it funny that Jordan averaged 3.5 FGA/game more than Kobe during their respestive careers, which is actually a lot more shots, and Kobe has only twice shot more FGA/game in a season over Jordan’s career average, but the selfish, ballhog nature of Kobe runs around in NBA circles like none has seen before. It just really makes no sense.

      Simmons is not a good writer. The funny thing is that he might actually be one of the best writers at ESPN. That’s how bad their writers are.

      Just stop with your ‘Kobe is not Jordan’ nonsense. What a stupid argument. And I can say that “Jordan is not Kobe.” How do you like that? Same thing, but in reverse. That is not an insult to Jordan nor to Kobe. Many in NBA circles have already said that Kobe is Jordan’s peer, equal to Jordan, surpassed Jordan in many areas of the game, or is only 2nd to Jordan.

      Take the mystify nature of Jordan, media hype of Jordan, media dislike of Kobe, global icon image of Jordan, and all of these people who say that nobody could be better than Jordan(because when you say that, that when you can’t even imagine anyone else better than someone else, then your argument holds almost no weight, your bias is diluting your opinion completely), and then come back down to reality, and accurately compare the two. Just take this article in question.

      This is one of the greatest myths in NBA circles. Almost everyone wants to believe that Kobe quit, which couldn’t be further from the truth. NBArealist likes to mention we only remember the good times with Kobe, I believe its much closer to the complete opposite of that. Even when sufficient evidence(game tape) is provided, most are still trying to speculate and make it seem like Kobe did something wrong, it’s just complete nonsense.

      Posted by boyer | September 20, 2011, 8:00 am
  11. I dont hold that nobody will surpass Jordan. I just know that knbody today will pass Jordan as the top player.

    If Kobe can continue playing at his present level for 2 more years (which may be difficult) he will pass some really big names on the all time minutes and points lists.

    I have no bias, you just believe that because I disagree with you opinion and I can provide good evidence for support, which I am certain you will vehemently dispute and attempt to marginalize using conjecture and minutia.

    I am glad you think Kobe is great. Good for you. You can like someone and he still may not be the best.

    and you’re right when you say Jordan is not Kobe; Jordan was better than that.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | September 20, 2011, 8:11 am
  12. Why is it a given that the Lakers were the most talented team in the league from 2000-04 and 2008-2011? How is having two great players and a bunch of average, below average cast better than a team full of very good players? How were the 2003 lakers better than the 2003 spurs? They didn’t have home-court advantage, take away the best player for each team (Tim and Kobe) and the spurs win every position but the center. The lakers had 37 year old brian shaw, Jannero Pargo and Slava Mafabguaubvenko (close enough) playing major minutes off the bench while the spurs had a young Ginobli and Malik Rose with Vets like Willis, Speedy Claxton and Steve Kerr helping out. This wasn’t even close guys, Shaq was very good but not good enough to off-set the rest of the supporting cast by himself especially when he had below average players carrying a lot of the load.

    In 2004 its arguable the Pistons win every position but the shooting guard. Billups was a much better player than Payton who was a wreck for most of the year, Tayhsaun was better than George, Rasheed was better than a hobbled Malone and Slava and although I wouldn’t say Big Ben was better than Shaq, He was a better rebounder and much better defender at that point of his career. Lets just say that the Lakers were supposed to win this series though

    The 2008 finals was the funniest one for me, expecting a team with their starting center injured and moving their finesse power forward to center and Lamar playing the PF position against the DPOY and the second best defensive center in the league to be anything less than a mismatch is unfair. Add that to the massive mismatch at the SF position (Pierce against Radmanovic and Walton?) and the celtics have every position but the shooting guard beat (and they still have the greatest shooter and an All star playing that position). The lakers bench was good but inexperienced and when you match them against the likes of Posey, Casell and PJ brown and you can see the advantage. Add that with the homecourt advantage and I don’t see how the Lakers are in any way shape or form better than the celtics other than they have the best player on the floor.

    In 2011 the lakers were a more talented bunch than the Mavs period.

    Do people just base their statements by looking straight at the roster?

    Posted by stillshining | September 22, 2011, 1:21 pm
  13. Haha rereading my post and it seems English is a bit of a problem for me, I hope my point is received though

    Posted by stillshining | September 22, 2011, 1:42 pm
    • I viewed the 2004 Finals a few days ago and I agree with the conclusion that the Pistons were better top to bottom than the Lakers.

      The Pistons were hungry and talented and deep.

      Beyond Shaq (about 80% of the 1999-2002) and Kobe, the Lakers didn’t have much.

      Kobe and Shaq’s feud was evident in their respective performances and the Lakers suffered for it.

      It is difficult to get this reality past the preconceived nothing that the Pistons stood no chance against the mighty Lakers, but the evidence would support it.

      Posted by Paulie Walnuts | September 22, 2011, 2:29 pm
  14. This was always something that I never quite understood because quite honestly, this wasn’t something that was out of the norm for Kobe during that series, he shot 24 times in their game 2 win but only 18 in their game 3 win. In their game 4 win Kobe only had 6 shot attempts in the second half in normal regulation time (3 in the third and fourth quarter),again this was on the Lakers home-court with no one having basically any playoff experience in a CLOSE game. Yet he played the same game-plan he was playing in game 7,1 (only a 5 point loss), 3 and 4.

    Now we go a little forward to game 6 where Kobe felt the need to push the gun to try and end the series in his home-floor and jacked up 35 shots for 50 points (thats 11 more shots than he attempted in game 2,(24) his then series high in attempts) The funny thing was he was getting ripped for changing the game-plan for the Lakers and taking his teammates out of the game, the usual Kobe criticisms.

    Start game 7 and again he starts off hot so he starts gunning again for 13 shots in the first half alone yet the Lakers were still down by 15 and then the infamous second half happened.

    At the end of the series one thing was clear, the Lakers had the best chance of winning when Kobe’s shot attempts were down because Kobe scoring has never demoralized the Suns. He scored 37, 39, 41 and 53 points in each of their regular season meetings that season and the Lakers went 1-3. In their rematch in the playoffs next season Kobe scored 39, 15, 45, 34 and 31 points in each of the games yet they were an easy out winning only 1 out of 5 games. If Kobe quit in game 7, he quit in game 2,3 and 4 too and they won every single game. Winning changes everyone’s perception

    Posted by stillshining | October 4, 2011, 8:17 am
  15. Ahhh the game 5 of the 1989 ECF. When comparing to Kobe’s game 7 and the reason why people say Kobe quit I honestly believe the same must be said maybe even to a higher degree of MJ’s game 5.
    Firstly to credit Jordan the Bulls had NO business whatsoever making it that far. It was truly the closest thing to a one man show averaging close to 38 in the first 11 playoff games.
    He shot 29 times for 32 points in game 1, He scored 27 in game 2, 46 in a ridiculous performance in game 3 and 23 points in game 4. In their wins MJ scored an average of 39 points per game. In other words the bulls weren’t winning unless MJ shot and scored a LOT. Then the random game 5 happened. In a series tied 2-2 with the gameplan already set and the bulls needing MJ to come up big he shot an amazing 8 times. The amazing thing was this game was close until the fourth where Detroit’s bench just caught fire. That’s much different than the 15 point lead the explosive suns had against the Lakers. Jordan wasn’t even facing off against the starters they never played in the final quarter. Another difference was the recipe to winning wasn’t Kobe scoring in that series, he had to defer in every win. While on the other hand Jordan was expected to shoot and carry most of the offensive load, that’s how the series was tied quite honestly.

    Oh and I don’t buy the fact that Jordan wasn’t somehow an “established elite” player. He was easily a top three player in the league and if you really followed basketball he was THE best player in the league. We’re talking about a guy that just came off a season where he won the MVP, DPOY, lead the leagues in steals and points, won the all star MVP, won the dunk contest and was first team all-nba and defense just the season before. I don’t see how there’s any way Jordan wasn’t established yet, he was already a household name. Another point I don’t agree with is how an elimination game diffirentiate the two games. Jordan’s game was in the ECF while Kobe’s was in the first round. Also I don’t care if it was game 1 or game 7 NOTHING should allow a player to “quit” on his team.

    All of that and I still don’t think Jordan quit. He still had 9 assists and 5 rebounds and was guarding the best player on the other team in Zeke. It was an awkward performance but I truly believe he tried hard. I also don’t believe Kobe quit on his team. My whole point is if Kobe quit on his team in this series Jordan DEFINITELY quit on his team in that series. But then again would MJ ever do that?

    Posted by stillshining | October 11, 2011, 5:37 pm
  16. Shine,

    There is much we agree on. I would like to clarify as to the WHY’s of my content.

    Jordan, was clearly the best player in the league form the moment he entered. However, like LeBron (who has 2 MVP awards), Jordan’s team still had not won. This is, of course, a silly thing, yet people will still try to use it as an argument against anointing a player over an already preferred established figure.

    I would never say any professional player at the caliber of Jordan or Kobe ever quit. That just does not comprise the DNA of a player that achieves what these guys have.

    Lastly, you don’t see a difference between a game #5 and a game#7?

    Really?

    When you’re tied 2-2 and going home for game #6, it is far easier to swallow a bad performance and a loss than it would be if you lost game#7.

    Understanding that you want to win every game, but accepting that you will lose some games; which game would you rather lose in a best of 7: Game #5 or game #7? Which game would you rather win?

    What I was pointing out was that Jordan and the Bulls had not won a championship yet, Kobe and the Lakers had won 3 when they plied the Suns. I also wanted to point out that the perception seems to be that Jordan’s Bulls were much better than Kobe’s Lakers. The records of each team does not reflect this(45-37 to 47-35, a 6 seed to a 7 seed), and the East was still the juggernaut conference at that time.

    I was not saying that either Kobe or Jordan quit, what I was saying is that if you wish to use this point of comparison to favor Bryant to Jordan, that it fails.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | October 12, 2011, 8:17 am
    • Umm, check the rosters again. Sure, the 89 bulls weren’t some juggernaut team, but minus jordan, they were a lot better than the 06 lakers minus Kobe. Kobe and those 06 lakers hadn’t won squat. Kobe had won 3 titles(the last being 4 years before 06), but the rest of those lakers hadn’t won a thing. Also, the 89 pistons hadn’t won a title either, goes both ways for the bulls/pistons in 89.

      Nobody is saying jordan quit. And I guess you don’t see it, but a lot of people say Kobe quit. Using good logic when comparing these games in question, the only logical conclusion would be to say that if you think Kobe quit, then it is obvious Jordan quit. But, in reality, neither quit. It’s just that it’s obvious Kobe is treated to a different standard than every other player by many, and to say/think Kobe quit is just flat out not true.

      The teams that the bulls faced in 89 hadn’t gone further in the playoffs in awhile before they faced them, except the pistons. The cavs/bulls/knicks were all in unchartered territory, all new to scene, which the pistons weren’t. Naturally, the team with the best player usually wins, if that player has even a little help from his teammates, which Jordan did, therefore, not that hard to believe the bulls made the conf. finals, and easy to see that pistons beat them in 89.

      Conversely, Kobe had very little help, and the lakers actually did better than the bulls for the first round, except the rules of the nba’s first round had changed. It was best of 5 in jordan’s day, best of 7 in 06. The suns were much better than the 89 cavs, coming off of a conf. finals appearance in 05. Lakers led 3-1, and would’ve won in best of 5 or if Tim Thomas didn’t hit that 3 on a crazy late-game possession in game 6. Then, the lakers would’ve had the clippers in the conf. semis, and would’ve had a chance to win that series. Remember, Smush Parker couldn’t even make the team for the 05 suns, and somehow finds himself as the laker starter in 06/07, then joins the worst team in the league in 08, the heat, which he couldn’t cut it there either, and enjoys playing somewhere in china now. And smush was probably the lakers’ 3rd best player. 3 of the lakers starters(walton/smush/kwame) most likely wouldn’t even have made the rotation for the suns that year, that’s what Kobe had to work with, which wasn’t much.

      Posted by boyer | October 12, 2011, 11:46 am
  17. I agree that Bryan’ts supporting cast was weak, yet so was Jordan’s. I would concede that the Bulls may have been a little better.

    On the subject of the Cavs and the Suns, however.. .

    the Cavs were 57-25 with a 7.95 point differential which was the highest in the league.

    The Suns were 54-28 with a 5.48 point differential which was 4th in the league.

    The Cavs were a much better team than Phoenix. Daugherty, Price, Ron Harper (remember him?), Larry Nance and Hot Rod Williams; a great roster for the Cavs. They would have smashed the Suns.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | October 12, 2011, 12:07 pm
    • Well, believe what you want. The lack of talent around Kobe in 06 was much worse than jordan’s lack of talent in 89. Just look at what those players in question did before and after those years in question for both jordan and kobe. Cartwright was a former AS, pippen would be a future perennial AS and top 50 player of all time, more accurately top 30, grant would become a future AS and future 4x all defense 2nd team. Smush was absolutely nothing immediately before and after the lakers. Kwame is not a good center. Walton is basically not even playing anymore. Odom has never made an AS team, and isn’t even a starter anymore. Nobody else on that team even starts on an nba team anymore, other than bynum, who barely played in that series and is routinely injured as it is, and somehow Kwame has started some, though has bounced around on several times and never close to a full season since 06.

      The cavs were decent, but nothing to get that excited over. They hadn’t gotten past the first round when they met the bulls in 89, unlike the 05 suns making the conf. finals. I already listed obvious reasons as to why the 06 suns were better than the 89 cavs. The 89 cavs were no slouches, but not a team to be scared of, and had yet to make it past the first round at that pt. It still required a very good effort from the bulls, and if jordan got any help, the bulls has a good chance to win, which is what happened, unlike Kobe getting virtually much less help. Kwame could barely even catch the ball, just pathetic.

      Posted by boyer | October 12, 2011, 3:39 pm
  18. I disagree about the Cavs and the Suns. The Cavs were better than Phoenix. Cleveland could score and play defense. It was the miracle shot that Jordan hit that we see constantly that won the series for Chicago.

    The Cavs would have hammered the Knicks and likely given the Pistons all they could handle. I am from Michigan and I definitely wanted no piece of the Cleveland. The Pistons were 6-0 against Chicago that year with scoring at 655-603. The Cavs were 3-3 vs. Detroit and outscored them 601-597. The Cavs were a really good team. They would have certainly pushed the Pistons to 7 and maybe won the Conference had Jordan not hit that final shot.

    I strongly agree that Kwame Brown is, was and always will be terrible. Ironically, Kwame was Jordan’s pick.

    Perhaps Kobe will be a better GM, if he ever gets that chance.

    Posted by paulie walnuts | October 13, 2011, 8:58 am
  19. Well, we’ll disagree about that. I don’t see it. I don’t see much difference in other team, but the 05 suns almost made the finals, the cavs were still new to the scene. In nba history, you usually have to pay your dues and take your losses before getting anywhere.

    I think it’s obvious the 06 lakers without kobe were much worse than 89 bulls without jordan. Take about jordan’s miracle shot all you want, kobe hit 2 miracle shots in game 4, and if it was still best of 5, the lakers win in 4.

    Which, maybe not from you, but from others, I’m just saying in general, I’ve heard an illogical knock on Kobe is that he’s never won a series as an underdog. Well, first what’s your definition of an underdog in the series? It could be for either team. The lakers were the lower seed against minny in 04, but no, nobody says the lakers were the underdogs. But, if you look at this 06 series, and compare best of 5 to best of 7, then this argument is rather pointless.

    Posted by boyer | October 13, 2011, 9:15 am
    • I agree that winning titles is incremental, except when you have two absolute suds, like Shaq and Kobe in 1999-2002.

      If you’ll noitce, John Salley was on the 1999-2000 Lakers (after sitting out 3 years!), Salley was also on the 1995-96 Bulls that beat the Sonics. That gives Salley 4 rings.

      Posted by Paulie Walnuts | October 14, 2011, 8:42 am
    • Ron Harper was also on the Lakers from 199-2001 and the Bulls from 1995-96-98.

      That Givers Ron Harper 5 rings, too.

      Again, just using rings can be as misleading, and perhaps more than using statistical results.

      Posted by Paulie Walnuts | October 14, 2011, 8:44 am
  20. Paulie — in general, I think you make good/valid points. But your Kobe/Nique comparisons leave me scratching my head. Not sure how a hardcore basketball fan could have watched the two play and come away with the opinion that Nique had an offensive game close to Kobe’s. Wilkins was a great scorer no doubt, but so were a lot of players. He lacked one thing that Kobe and Jordan had.

    That was the ability to kill.

    As an intelligent basketball fan, it does you no service to try and justify similarities using stats. Perhaps a good post I’ll write soon.

    Posted by Brown Mamba | October 13, 2011, 11:44 pm
    • This would be a great article to help you with your article, Mamba: http://20secondtimeout.blogspot.com/2010/08/kobe-bryants-impact-on-lakers-goes-far.html

      Posted by boyer | October 14, 2011, 8:14 am
    • Mamba,

      Read carefully, I wrote that OFFENSIVELY Dominique is somewhat similar to Kobe.

      This is an example given to illustrate how looking at anything in a vacuum can distort the truth.

      Of course, when you broaden the lens, Kobe bursts through; the defense, the championships, the award shares are all big favors that vault Kobe ahead.

      My use if ‘Nique was to demonstrate when you ONLY use scoring (or any metric singularly), you will get flawed results.

      Stats ALONE don’t tell the whole story. I will repeat again what I have written:

      VOLUME, RATE, ENVIRONMENT. What are the RESULTS of all of that COMBINED?

      Was said player ever considered the best in the league? What would show that?

      Was said player the best on his team? What woudl show that?

      Was said player a good player on a CHAMPIONSHIP team? What would show that?

      You can’t use stats alone, but you need to use them in combination with an objective process.

      My favorite player was Bernard King, but I would have to objectively say that Scottie Pippen was the better player. Though, I don’t want to as I hate all Bulls players. Bad Boys 4 EVER!

      Posted by Paulie Walnuts | October 14, 2011, 8:37 am
      • You’re not reading carefully. Mamba did say “offensively” between nigue and kobe. Nique is a prime example of awesome stats, but obvious there’s a huge difference between him and someone like Kobe in general but also offensively, which I would say not quite as obvious, but pretty close about as obvious between west and kobe, but to someone like you, I guess it’s not obvious. Nique is rightly regarded as a top 50 player, but that’s it, never past the 2nd round of the playoffs, I believe, and just didn’t have the ‘it’ factor that kobe and others have to get through 4 rounds of playoffs, which something russell never did. Not his fault as a lot fewer teams, so only 3 rounds of playoffs, and he lucked out getting on a team that basically had a monopoly on the nba at the time.

        Obviously in your conclusion about west vs. kobe, rings aren’t much of a factor. And I don’t know where I said it, but I said most rings among elite players, never about role players, not sure why you brought that up. And those 00-02 lakers’ team did have 2 great players, just like all of jordan’s title teams, and 3 great players for 3 of them, plus the role players around jordan were much better than the role players around kobe, I think you need to rethink your argument here a bit, or really a lot. Those lakers teams weren’t as good as many like to believe, just like the 08-10 lakers teams weren’t as talented and certainly not as deep as many like to believe. shannon brown couldn’t even make the rotation in cleveland with lebron, and he becomes 7th man for the lakers. Pau had 1 AS and 0-12 in the playoffs were joining kobe. Odom/bynum still have 0 AS total.

        Please take your own advice in evaluating players. And you cannot live in speculative world, you have to deal in reality, the product we see on the court, and it’s quite obvious Kobe has had a much better career than west. All those questions you list above strongly favor kobe vs. west. I really scratch my head at that comparison. But, that’s not even the worst part of your argument. It’s that if you think west really is better than kobe, then west has to be top 3-4 all time. While you speculate what 2010 west or 1965 kobe would look like, that’s not reality, and you’re not even factoring how much worse the quality of players were 40-50 years ago as compared to today. The fact is that if you watch video of west and kobe, it’s obvious who the better player is.

        Very few people realize this, but Kobe is not just a great lockdown defender, but he’s a great help defender. Bowen was a great lockdown def., but not really that great a help defender. Rarely have we ever seen a player with both of these attributes at an elite level. And most teams have their centers directing their defense, naturally since they can see the whole court as the backline defender easier. But, this isn’t the case with the lakers, kobe directs the entire defense, not bynum. Bynum is becoming better defensively, but bynum is wrongly thought of as the lakers top defender, which the coaches who vote for the all defensive teams clearly see.

        Posted by boyer | October 14, 2011, 11:47 am
  21. What I was referring to in my answer to Mamba, was in fact, the OFFENSIVE STATISTICAL RECORD.

    When you use ONLY the stats, the similarity of Dominique and Bryant is there. You could get the same comparison of say. . Harmon Killebrew and Willie McCovey in baseball, but that type of conclusion ALONE leads down a blind alley.

    What I am saying is that the numbers ALONE do not make a good case nor does the TEAM PERFORMANCE alone make a good case. These are elements that have to be used in conjunction.

    Your “eye test” is useful, but does it tell the whole story?
    Is it possible to see a player perform well that is typically NOT a great performer?
    If the tape clearly shows that Kobe is better, why don’t the numbers reflect this?
    Your reasoning is that the athletes are superior, and since you put Kobe in “the top 5, for sure”, then the logical conclusion has to be that Kobe is superior to even his peer group?
    If Kobe is the superior of his group, (which is then assumed to be superior to West’s group) then isn’t the logical conclusion be that Kobe’s performance result numbers should be superior to West’s?
    Yet, Kobe’s numbers are NOT superior to West. Why is this, then?
    Do you believe that West or any player from that era is totally incapable of adjusting?

    I suppose Russell “lucked out” as well with the University of San Francisco winning back to back NCAA Tournament Titles (each game won by double figures both years) and also lucked out in winning the Olympic Gold? It couldn’t possibly be that Russell was a great player. That Russell’s game transcended the numbers? If it is possible to conclude that for Kobe, then why can’t we apply that same reasoning to Russell.

    To address your seeming lack of understanding of athletic ability translating to the new generation: You do realize that Wilt was STILL being courted by NBA teams to come back at age 50, right?

    It is also false reasoning to state that if I have West ahead of Kobe, that West has to be a top 3-4. Again, that is not my hierarchy.

    You still have not provided one, and I would conclude that you have probably not put much thought to developing one. Not having thought about a top ten is fine, but don’t sit on the sideline and cherry pick things you don’t like. Offer one up of your own. Provide your reasoning. Give us some insight as to why you are right others are wrong.

    It is easy to pick apart another’s list when you don’t have one of your own to use as comparison. Offer one up; perhaps our lists may not be so different.

    And I still don’t see how it is “obvious” that Kobe had a better career than West. You haven’t provided me with any evidence towards that other than “I say so” rhetoric.

    I am willing to consider the case, but I need something to work with.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | October 14, 2011, 1:14 pm
  22. I used Harper and Salley (as others would use Bob Horry), to illustrate that championships have a contextual element to them.

    It is also likely NOT a coincidence that Salley and sharper wound up on those rosters. They were, after all coached by the same person.

    Players can be big contributors to winning without putting up big statistical numbers.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | October 14, 2011, 1:21 pm
  23. Well, what numbers are you using, are the good numbers to use, and in what context are the numbers being said. So many stat gurus out there today think that some type of stat(s) are the start all end all of the conversation, and most of the time their observations/conclusions are absolutely awful. I mean, how many times have you heard the ’20 shot’ theory about Kobe Bryant? I wonder why we never hear this theory used about other players. And even some former players like Jon Barry, who should absolutely know better, claims that the lakers are better when Kobe is under 20 shots/game, without any other context or observation of the game in question at all. This is just one example, should be an obvious example, but to many it’s not, as is the ‘clutch’ articles so many ill-informed people like to write about Kobe to bash him, and think that a small sample size is sufficient evidence and completely disregard everything else about the game, and then when a few stats don’t line up with their conclusions, then and usually only then do they come up with some type of speculatiive theory with why that’s not the case. Some stats are useful to a degree, just know their limitations, and some really aren’t useful at all, and the raw box score stats are not even kept 100% accurately still today, it’s very unfortunate.

    Do you really deny that today’s athletes aren’t substantially better on average than athletes 40 years ago? Are you actually serious? And how do the numbers not show that Kobe isn’t phenomenal? He’s at least top 6 in nba history in reg. season and playoff scoring, I need not go any further. And he’s tied for 4th amongst elite player in titles. I mean, you grasping at straws, paulie boy. I don’t know why you want to deny him is greatness. I wish we could have a more relevant conversation like magic vs. kobe, but I guess that will never happen.

    Give me a break, dude. Don’t give me this superior hierarchy garbage you’re trying to portray. You’re being so petty right now. I’ve given you lots of info./evidence, whether you keep on ignoring it or use it correctly/incorrectly is up to you. And I’ve thought about the greats a lot. I just find it utterly ridiculous and hilarious at the same time how much disrespect Kobe gets. It’s obvious West was a great player, and while I hate the phrase that so many like to use saying kobe is the closest thing to jordan, why don’t you have ever hear west is the closest thing to jordan? I mean, even most of the haters can admit that much. I mean, let’s try to be realistic here.

    And russell and wilt are obviously awesome, but wilt was the only one truly ahead of his time. And you can’t be foolish enough to think that 50 and 25 in 1965 or whenever he did that would translate to 50 and 25 in 2010, can you? And that goes for everyone else back then. You are joking about that, aren’t you? Taking into account accomplishments, sure russell has to be up there, but from a purely talent level, no. I already said it, but it’s important to remember to put into perspective, russell is the same exact size as durant, and would have to play the 3 probably today, or maybe be the smallest 4 in the league today, but no way would he be a 5. Fantastic player in his time, but his era was an extremely weak athletic era as compare to today, that should be obvious, unfortunately for you, it is not.

    Posted by boyer | October 14, 2011, 9:12 pm
    • Boyer,

      Try this method of evaluation.

      Rather than starting by saying “Kobe Bryant is a top 5 player” and finding reasons that support that.

      Ask instead; “IS Kobe Bryant a top 5 player?” then find reasons to support that.

      I believe the difference in our conclusions is one of perspective. I have no preconceived ideas as to who should be where, thus I allowed my top 10 (or top 20) to develop organically.

      When you begin by asking the questions, (Who are the top 5 players of all time? Who are the second five all time?) you should arrive at a list that has balance amongst the positions as well as balance amongst the eras.

      When your list has, for example, too many modern players (or too many from the 1960′s), you likely have a bias in your process that favors that grouping. The trick,t hen,is to identify that bias and make an adjustment to derive a greater balance.

      Posted by Paulie Walnuts | October 15, 2011, 1:09 pm
      • Perspective? Sure, that’s part of it, but it’s obvious Kobe is the most hated player of all time and it’s not just the hate, it’s the uninformed, unfair respect/analysis/opinions of him, which is likely part of your bias against him. With that being said, your argument is highly part of speculation, and not reality, as I’ve mentioned before. And you talk about scoring averages, and you think that somehow that means someone is better than another without any other observation involved. You think that because West averaged a higher ppg during his career than Kobe than somehow that means he’s better. That doesn’t make sense. Did West ever play at age 18 in the nba? Did west ever have to play against the complexity of defenses of today? I could go on and on.

        When you talk about top 5, top 10 players of all time, what does balance of positions have to do with anything? Why can’t the top 10 players of all time be all PGs or be all centers? That doesn’t make sense. And why does balance of eras also have to be included? I couldn’t disagree more with these notions. But, naming the top 10 or so players of all time, they do happen to be somewhat evenly distributed amongst the eras, by chance, but there’s no reason why this is some prerequisite. Interesting how you accuse me of being bias towards the modern players, when you are bias in the complete opposite way. I’m sure there’s some bias involved, but it should be obvious to everyone how much better the athletes are today as opposed to the past. Just the way it is. I’m not sure how much better the average athlete can become, time will tell.

        Posted by boyer | October 15, 2011, 10:33 pm
        • West didn’t paly at age 18 becasue there was NO advantage to do so . Going to college in the late 1950′s was a much better option that going to a league where you may not get paid because it folded. It is to Kobe’s credit that he started earlier, but again, don’t think that defenses today were so good they would neutralize Clutch (or any great player), that is just ignorance.

          West was a two time All American at WVU and the MVP of the Final Four (though WVU didn’t win). That means something.

          And I just don’t use points per game, if you would ever care to notice, I use ALL the data.

          When you create a great system, the balance will be evident. Why can’t the top 10 be point grads, they could be, but then the next 20 would be forwards and centers. Again, it is the broader perspective.

          Posted by Paulie Walnuts | October 16, 2011, 8:39 am
          • The reason you should have a balance across eras and through positions would reflect that a process is in place that eliminates bias of era.

            There may indeed be positions that get bundles up, but those tend to wash out as the list gets deeper.

            To not account for distorting in the data due to playing style, or rules changes would produce a list that is not reflective of the truth.

            Using the NFL and Quarterback; Vinnie Testaverde has more passing yards and touchdowns than Joe Montana and Steve Young. Is Vinnie Testaverde better than Montana or Steve Young.

            A simialr error would be if you didn’t adjust is in passer rating where Joe Flacco and Kurt Warner and Duante Culpepper have better passer ratings than Dan Marnio. Is Joe Falcco better than Dan Marino?

            Same story in baseball where the 1930′s and the recent steroid era saw offensive numbers jump (in 1930, the ENTIRE NL hit .303); does that mean all the pitchers were bad because they had ERA’s over 4.00? Were the pitchers in the 1910,s better because they had lower ERA’s despite NOT having to worry about homeruns?

            Era differences and play style also do not necessarily mean that a players skills would not translate to a different era. You don’t think Ty Cobb would be a great player today? He had the size and certifiably the skill. Lou Gehrig?

            Without understanding how differences in style of play (environment) affect stats, you can get these types of biases.

            That is why LEADING THE LEAGUE or BLACK INK is relevent. That has a way of showing TO WHAT DEGREE a player exhibited dominance.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | October 16, 2011, 12:53 pm
    • Actually, Kobe is third in Career Playoff Points, but still 700 or so behind Jordan. So, should Kobe average 25 a game for EACH of his next 28 playoff games, he would reach Jordan.

      Kobe is 8th in Career Regular Season scoring, and likely should finish in the top 3, barring injury or a really extended lockout.

      I guess, if you COMBINES those two, he would be “like 6th”.

      Posted by Paulie Walnuts | October 15, 2011, 1:19 pm
      • Wasn’t combining the 2 and wasn’t using aba, so what I said was correct. Using aba, then top 8 for each.

        Posted by boyer | October 15, 2011, 2:11 pm
        • If you are NOT counting ABA performance, then why do you believe that Doc J should be higher on the list than #20?

          Are you of the position that ABA data should simply be summarily dismissed?

          Posted by Paulie Walnuts | October 15, 2011, 2:28 pm
          • It’s pretty obvious from what i’ve said compared to what you’ve said that I would think that aba stats/records should be counted a lot more than you would. Having dr. j not in at the very least the top 15, let alone the top 20 is nearly as ridiculous as not having kobe firmly in the top 10.

            All I said was nba, which is just nba. That’s just the terminology I usually use, like most people do. I don’t say nba/aba or basketball history, nor do hardly anyone I’ve read write like that. I wasn’t discounting or disregarding the aba.

            Posted by boyer | October 15, 2011, 10:23 pm
          • The problem with that is that you create a double standard. If you are using eliminating ABA data to elevate one player, then how is it justifiable to include that data when evaluating another player?

            I agree that it creates a level of difficulty to incorporate a player like Doc, Skywalker or A-Train that left the best parts of their careers in the ABA.

            And to state that “that s the terminology that most people use” is a false one, OTHERWISE, Doc could NEVER be considered even a top 50 player on his NBA data alone. It is likely just simple to NOT consider ABA data since most players under scrutiny today have never played in the ABA. Certainly no one working for ESPN or ABC or Disneyland gets paid to talk about the ABA.

            I have never written anywhere at anytime that ABA data should not be counted. What I did write was that you had referred to “bad defense” when making an argument for the Dr., and I pointed out that ABA was clearly NOT a defense oriented league.

            Again, If you think it is “ridiculous”, THEN OFFER UP WHAT YOU BELIEVE YOUR LIST TO BE.

            You continue to offer the criticisms and point out what you believe is wrong, but don’t offer a counter or a potential SOLUTION.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | October 16, 2011, 8:33 am
          • Just a few more tidbits. You do realize that West was an extremely small guard: 6-2, 175. We’ve never seen a truly amazing player that was that small. Iverson, west, and thomas are the closest things, but obviously their small size greatly limited them, and stockton can be included in there, too. It doesn’t matter that if some people think that if thomas was 6-6 or 6-7, he’d be the best player ever, because he wasn’t, and that’s just the way it is. A shooting guard at 6-2 today could be great, but highly unlikely to be all-world great. Iverson had all-world athleticism, unlike west, and he was never able to reach the elite status. I could make a strong case of iverson over west, though I’d still take west, and iverson is nowhere near kobe’s level.

            For somebody without any mvps, no finals mvps on winning teams, only 1 ring despite playing with wilt/baylor, much less athletic than kobe, much smaller, much fewer accomplishments, it’s just truly mind boggling in any way to even consider west over kobe, truly an awful conclusion.

            The other thing is that you get caught up on ppg without good context around it. Kobe played 4 years of nba from 18-21 before west would even be in the nba. Taking out kobe’s first 4 years, and then even taking out west’s final 3 years, since he played through 35, and kobe just finished a season at 32, kobe has a better ppg at 28.2 vs. 27.8 over west. And I would think it would be obvious how much harder it would be score today as compared to west’s time, but for you, that’s probably not the case.

            Posted by boyer | October 17, 2011, 1:00 pm
          • You cannot give Kobe credit for having started his NBA career at age 18, then wish to take away the results of those years.

            Take the careers as they are.

            One thing about the “athletic disparity” to which you are fixated;

            West retired in 1974. Kobe entered the league in 1996. What you are saying is that over the course of 22 years, athletes had so evolved that players from just two decades earlier could not complete today. For that to be true, then Magic, who retired in 1991, could no longer play today. Do you believe that?

            As to West only being 6′ 2″, D. Wade is 6′ 4″. Steve Nash is 6′ 3″; How does Jerry West only being 6′ 2″ translate in to Kobe being better?

            As to West and his one title, he did have a REALLY difficult challenger in the Celtics (who you have REPEATEDLY stated were “stacked”) and Knicks. West’s teams made the NBA finals 8 times.

            As to west not winning an MVP, (again, an award that you have REPEATEDLY written that the writers do not get right) West was runner up 4 times and in the top five 8 times. The MVP awards during West’s tenure went to Russell 4x, Wilt 3x, Kareem, 3x, Wes Unseld, Willis Reed, Dave Cowens and Oscar Robertson. Each of Cowesn, Unseld (who was also Rokie of the Year) played on the team with the best regular season record. It wasn’t like West was losing out to lesser players. I have Wilt Russell, Kareem and Robertson ahead of West.

            Make up your mind, either MVP awards count or they don’t.

            Again, when we look at the playoff results, West could hardly be blamed for the Lakers not winning more titles. The Celtics were a great team ( as you have noted many times) and the Knicks were also a great team. West and the Lakers weren’t playing the Pacers, a hapless ’76ers, or Nets. And the teams those Lakers lost to were better than the 2004 Pistons and the 2008 Celtics.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | October 18, 2011, 12:19 pm
          • Boyer,

            Going any further is utterly pointless until you put forward your own list of the top 10 or 20 players of all time.

            Don’t sit in the sideline, get in the game.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | October 18, 2011, 12:20 pm
          • I’m not wishing away Kobe’s years. All I’m saying is if you’re going to compare ppg between west and kobe, using Kobe’s first 4 years is mostly pointless, and I disregarded West’s final 3 years, same thing. You basically made the claim at one pt. that if I think kobe is so much better than west, then why did west have a higher ppg. You need to look at all the facts. You talk about how much nba history you know, but yet your irrational analyses suggest otherwise. Without any other context involved: pace, team ppg, level of competition, team defense complexity, teammates, era, etc., at the very least this has to be done to come up with any type of logical analysis. Unfortunately, you don’t even get that.

            Obviously, you don’t get that small players just won’t be as good as larger players. Sure, wade and nash are better than most nbaers, but wade and nash aren’t 2 of the elite all-time greats, and most likely never will be. Though watching wade and west play and comparing talent levels, wade is likely better than west, but that’s for another day. Just imagine kobe guarding west and west guarding kobe. West has no advantage. Kobe is much quicker, and could school west in any way he wants to, but posting up is probably the best way. West would require a double team every team. Conversely, west would mightily struggle offensively against Kobe. West was tiny. Now, that’s somewhat ok for a PG, though the only 2 status elite PGs in nba history are magic(6-9) and oscar(6-5), big PGs. Rose is a big PG(6-3) and very strong/quick, one of many reasons why he’s the best PG today.

            If we’re including accomplishments, than yea, west has to be top 15 probably, but certainly not ahead of kobe. If we’re talking about purely from a talent perspective incorporated into the team sport that we know as basketball, then no, west doesn’t belong in the top 15.

            Let me know which year(s) that West deserved the MVP and didn’t get it. The only mvp non-great player that I’ve seen get an mvp(s) has been nash. It’s always tough to get one. Unseld, cowens, and reed were certainly lesser players than west, as you don’t have them ahead of west in your all-time greats, but then again, maybe they stole one or more from West. I’m asking you which one(s) you think they stole from West. Wilt probably deserved MVP almost every year he played. I disagree with your notion that it was harder to win MVPs back then. I mean, even comparing lebron to west, it should be obvious lebron is a much more talented player, regarding of him having some mental breakdowns from time to time. Lebron would greatly benefit from only having to win 3 rounds of series back then, unlike the 4 rounds today.

            Posted by boyer | October 18, 2011, 2:07 pm
          • As to leBron, I have said that he will likely finish #7, which would place him ahead of West.

            Again, instead of offering you criticism of what I have, OFFER UP YOUR OWN LIST.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | October 18, 2011, 2:38 pm
          • Why would attempt to manipulate the career data of Kobe and West by selectively eliminating certain years from it?

            Isn’t the point to measure what a player did on the entirety of his work? True that there is a difference of peak and career value, but my list is not a reflection of peak value, it is one of career value.

            Perhaps, Kobe does have a slightly higher peak value than West, but I am not certain of that.

            What do you consider Elite?

            You don’t think Wade or Nash are elite players? Nash is certainly a HOF player and likely the 6th or 7th best PG of all time.

            As to Wade against Kobe; check the numbers:

            Kobe: 25.3/5.3/4.7 Ppg/rpg/apg
            Wade: 25.4/5.1/6.3 ppg/rpg/apg

            Playoffs

            Kobe: 25.4/5.1/4.8
            Wade: 25.9/5.7/5.6

            Rates:
            Regular season
            Kobe: .454/.330/.837 FG%?#PT%/FT%
            Wade: .485/.292/.769

            Playoffs
            Kobe: .448/.335/.815
            Wade: .483/.327/.789

            How is Kobe vastly better than Wade? Kobe is better from the line and better in the regular season from distance, but overall, Wade is a far more efficient player. In my judgement, Kobe has had better teammates for his career than Wade, to this point. In the next 3-5 seasons it is very likely that Wade numbers will improve and he will get 3 more rings.

            How is he NOT an elite player?

            I don’t believe nor do I project Wade surpassing Kobe, but he may likely wind up around #15-20 by the time he is done.

            What does elite mean to you?

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | October 19, 2011, 8:27 am
          • A better question is:

            When did West NOT deserve an MVP, and why not?

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | October 19, 2011, 2:11 pm
  24. I am not saying nor have ever said that any player would average 50 a game today, BECAUSE NO PLAYER WOULD DARE TAKE 40 SHOTS a game.

    I am not being petty at all, I am asking you to offer up what you believe to be the top 10 or 20 players of all time in the order you see them. That is trying to reach a mutual UNDERSTANDING rather than trying to just be a critic.

    Of course the athletes are better today, but that is becuase of the ENVIRONMENT they enjoy. The money invested is far too great to NOT be in top physical condition all the time, the use of advanced film augments the training and game strategy/tactics not to mention that the coaching is likely 100% greater. In short, EVERYTHING is better today, but that does NOT mean that the players who were great then would not be great today given all the same benefits.

    And stop listening to ANYONE that works for ESPN or any of their “pawn” networks like ABC. Two words: Stepehn L. Smith. All right, I’ll give you two more: Tim Legler. Both are idiots.

    When you say Kobe is top 6 in regular season and playoff scoring; are you referring to TOTAL points or POINTS PER GAME?
    In career playoff points per game it is Jordan at 33.48, then Iverson, West, LeBron, Rick Barry, Elgin Baylor, Ice, Dirk, Hakeem, Wade, Pettit and ‘Nique.
    Kobe is #14 in Playoff PPG. The raw data, as you said, does NOT tell the whole story.

    You have provided evidence, but it is mostly anecdotal and typically isolated RAW data. Use the numbers in combination. Play chess, not checkers.

    That goes to the question of opportunity. It is to Kobe’s credit that he was able to play many minutes, and his raw totals reflect this. There is a lot of value in being able to be on the floor that much. Yet, there is also value in being a very EFFICIENT player as well.

    Kobe is like Hondo in that both played a lot, both scored a lot, neither had great FG%, and both were all worldly defenders, and both both players contributed to teams that won titles. It is no insult to say that Kobe is #13 when Hondo is #14, when you take into account the entirety of that package.

    And saying that Kobe is the closest to Jordan does not make Kobe close to Jordan. It just means (in your view), that Kobe is the closes we have seen.

    Offer up your list of top 10 and top 20. Let’s see what you come up with. What is preventing you form offering this?

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | October 15, 2011, 9:01 am
  25. Very nice, informative article. I had the pleasure of going to see the Lakers and Suns in this series in Games 1 and 5 and I have to say that Phil Jackson likely did his best coaching job with this squad in this series. The fact that the Lakers even had a series lead was surprising and the fact that the Suns were one fortuitous bounce from being eliminated was even more so. That being said, Game 7 was pretty much what everyone from these two teams from the beginning. Kobe couldn’t win the game alone, which was evident from the previous 6 games. He needed solid production from the supporting cast, not stellar, but solid. In game 7, the Lakers were down 17 in the first quarter and would barely narrow the margin for the rest of the game. This is exactly what the Lakers had prevented in the previous games and having to outscore the Suns wasn’t going to work. The Suns did exactly what they had to do to make sure the Lakers couldn’t make a run and that was to throw defenders at Kobe to make him give up the ball and make the rest of the Lakers beat them. Well if your fate rests in the hands of Smush Parker, Kwame Brown, and Luke Walton, then you’re in some real trouble. Needless to say the Lakers got blown out and THANK YOU for providing the evidence of why Kobe didn’t quit that game.

    Posted by J.T. | October 31, 2011, 9:34 am
    • J.T. — thanks for the kind words. I agree with your assessment. It will always be a painful “what if” in Laker history around what would have happened, both to the Lakers that year as well as Kobe’s legacy, if that Tim Thomas shot hadn’t gone down in Game 6.

      Posted by Brown Mamba | November 26, 2011, 11:26 pm
  26. I never even thought about this game in his career as him checking out. I honestly thought the Lakers were an inferior team even with a Kobe who was putting up monstrous stats that season.

    One thing I will say though is in every recent playoff elimination game I can remember, Kobe and the Laker squad are horrendous. 2008 – Game 6 Vs Celtics, they had played the Celtics on equal terms throughout the series except for the Game 5 meltdown which was the worst I’ve seen…

    Then again last year when the Mavericks trounced the Lakers in a sweep no less.

    Not taking into account stats, why is it that Kobe and the Lakeshow seem to do badly in elimination games in recent memory? Minus the 2010 Finals Game 7 (although Kobe honestly didn’t play well that game either).

    When people talk about Jordan V Kobe comparisons, I don’t think I can ignore these facts that are true.

    Again, I don’t think Kobe checks out but it is odd how badly the Lakers all in all perform in those close out games. Guess you can toss in this Suns series with it and maybe even go far back as the Lakers V Pistons 2004 when again, in the elimination game, they were pounded in almost every aspect.

    Posted by G3 | December 8, 2011, 2:55 am
    • You seem to have selective memory G3, basically only remembering the times that Kobe lost in elimination games. But, the truth is, Kobe has had phenomenal performances in elimination games. He has the NBA record with 8 consecutive 30+pt. games in road elimination games, and he was doing awesome in game 6 against the hornets this past season, but it was a near blowout, so Phil pulled him out early, or else his record would be 9.

      Also, Kobe had something like the first 13-15 pts. for the lakers in game 6 against the c’s in 2008, but it was obvious from the get go the rest of his team wasn’t up to the challenge. The thing you often notice about kobe’s teammates is that they want it easy and don’t want to grind out wins, which is why grind it out teams like the pistons and c’s have managed to have some success against them in the past, in other words, they’ve been powder-Pau soft. But, Kobe’s greatness has lifted them over the hump many times. Don’t confuse Kobe with his teammates, big difference. Kobe’s going to have some bad games like jordan had many bad games, which most people seem to forget or not want to remember, but Kobe’s not going to quit on you like lebron does. Wade stunk overall in the finals this year, but he at least didn’t quit. I’d much rather have a player like that, giving me his all, than one who falls by the wayside.

      And in game 7 in 2010, Kobe still managed to contribute in many areas, since he is so skilled. He had 15 rebounds, more than KG/wallace combined, 2nd in game only behind Pau. He played great defense. And even though he wasn’t shooting well, the defense still had to greatly focus on him, allowing him to pass to a wide open Artest with the key assist in the game. And the lakers were down for most of the game, so talk all you want about collapses, remember the reverse of those as well, just like game 7 against the blazers in 2000, etc. Also, Kobe was super clutch in that game 7 in 2010, going for 10 pts. and 4 rebounds in the 4th. You talk that his shot wasn’t falling, true, but he still managed to find ways to score, and putting the pressure on the c’s defense by regularly getting to the line for easy pts.

      Posted by boyer | December 8, 2011, 8:16 am
      • Boyer — love the defense of Kobe and agree with many of your points above.

        G3, as someone who has watched hundreds of Kobe’s games, I do think some of what you say has some merit. Kobe’s career is littered with blowouts in playoff elimination games: Utah, San Antonio, Detroit, Phoenix, Boston, Dallas. So your facts here are generally correct and I think they expose a flaw of Kobe’s (though not one you are probably anticipating).

        Kobe’s style of leadership and interaction with his teammates has always been the most immature part of his game. As such, his teammates do not always build up the confidence and competence required to jump in when they are needed. What we see time and time again in these blowout examples is that Kobe typically has a brilliant 1st quarter, his teammates do nothing, Kobe cools off, and the Lakers get blown out. His teammates have not built up the mechanism to react when Kobe is not available to save them (or more cynically, perhaps, they do not want to). In fact, during these games, you can actually see them begin to lose faith in themselves as the game progresses — despite any cajoling/anger or any other emotion from Kobe.

        How big of a flaw is this? That’s a tough question to answer. Part of what makes Kobe great is his single-minded desire to win. This in part causes some of the issues described above. A great debate for a future post.

        Posted by Brown Mamba | December 8, 2011, 10:29 pm

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