Aside from all of the side stories surrounding the rematch between the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers, there is one story that may mean the most to one player, Kobe Bryant. It’s the story of a young kid who idolized the greatest player in the world and now, in the midst of his own brilliant career, his quest to now surpass his childhood idol has made him into the most competitive basketball player on the planet, and undoubtedly the best.
When you watch Kobe Bryant play, when you watch the precision and skill in which he is able to score, when you see the unwavering and relentless competitive intensity on his face, there’s really only one player that immediately comes to mind, that would be Michael Jordan, the greatest basketball player ever to play the game, period. There was a time when it was damn near blasphemy to mention another player in the same breath as the great Michael Jordan, many still believe it still is, but Kobe Bryant is making a case for himself.
Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing that matters, and that is a concept that Kobe Bryant has finally adopted. I say finally, because there was a time when if you watched Kobe Bryant play, you weren’t quite sure if winning was the only thing that mattered. There was of course the whole feud with Shaq, which eventually contributed to the Hall of Fame big man skipping town to Miami, where he won a fourth championship with D Wade. Meanwhile, Kobe struggled in LA, and at times it looked like he was more concerned with scoring 50 plus points, than he was with winning and making his teammates better. In his defense, it wasn’t like he had much to work with, but the argument from Kobe critics was that it was Kobe who had created that situation. Additionally, many have to wonder what would have been had Shaq stayed, perhaps Kobe would already have 6 or 7 rings, perhaps.
It has been a long journey of maturity and self reflection for Kobe Bryant. Despite being the hands down best and most complete player in the world, it seems critics are always ready to put someone else, less deserving in accomplishments ahead of Bryant, namely, Lebron James. It has done nothing but make Kobe better. And now, finally surrounded by a capable supporting cast, Kobe is ready to chase down his idol. Kobe has four rings, Michael has six, standing in the way of his fifth ring are the Boston Celtics, but it seems MJ too had his rivals.
To me, Kobe can never truly be greater than Michael Jordan, simply because when you look at both careers, Michael has him beat in so many categories, including the one statistic that Kobe is most known for, scoring. But there is one category that doesn’t show up on the scoresheet that Bryant has a chance to surpass the great MJ, that’s rings. Rings are what makes you a champion, anything else is just fluff. Realistically, can Kobe catch MJ? He’s young yes, but people forget that Kobe came straight out of highschool, so he’s put in 13 long seasons. Jordan had already won six rings in 13 seasons with the Bulls, but if Kobe can equal or surpass MJ in rings, he will have officially chased down a legend, at least in my books.