By: Opinionated Reezy (Ronald Stovall)
I already know some of you are foaming at the mouth and getting ready to type hate and venom into the comments but hear me out. Michael Jordan has been dethroned as the king of the Basketball world by not one, but two players in two distinct areas. Part one is dedicated to the forgotten one, Kobe Bean Bryant, the Black Mamba. By all accounts he has surpassed Michael Jordan as the one to emulate for Killer Instinct and winning on the highest scale.
Let us be perfectly clear by no means am I suggesting that Michael Jordan is lesser than. In fact, he is the blueprint of this era. There would be no Kobe Bryant without Michael Jordan. When we speak to greatness of his Airness we talk about the two three-peat with the Chicago bulls, never lost in the finals, the way he willed his teams to victory. For 15 seasons he put it all on the line. His career numbers were 30.1 pts, 6.2 rebs, and 5.3 asts. A slew of players came forth emulating his style to a degree looking to reach the mantle.
Rest assured I will not be using the lazy reference of G.O.A.T, I will put it out there and say Kobe Bryant has surpassed Michael Jordan as the new King of the Throne for the current era.
The New King
Kobe Bryant entered the league in 1997 and his career followed a similar beat pattern to Jordan. Jordan began in an era dominated by Magic and Bird. Similarly, Kobe entered the league during the apex of the second three-peat. It was Mike’s league and Kobe was the student. Once MJ retired Kobe aggressively took over, probably too aggressively. I recall the one of the several swan song All-Star games for Jordan where Kobe went at Jordan hard and rejected his shot, which in turn was met with rejection from the announcers. I believe this was a moment where Kobe would be omitted from “the conversation” because it didn’t fit the narrative.
From 2000 – 2002 the Lakers led by Kobe and Shaq were on a terror, they three-peated. After that drama hit in the personal life, sound familiar? Rather than taking time off, Kobe rode it through. He suffered a loss to the Pistons, sound familiar? Now with the Lakers dismantled, Kobe was determined prove he can do it on his own.
Here is where things get interesting:
• Kobe takes an entirely different team (same franchise) and wins two more championships
• Develops what we now refer to as Mamba mentality
• Changes the way the game is approached psychologically
• Creates a narrative in other players who has that killer instinct as Mamba mentality
• Does all of this with consistency up to his 20th season when his body quits on him.
I have always wondered why analyst never compared Kobe to Michael. I suspect the reason is because if you do it objectively you would have to truly give Kobe the edge and I am not sure the analysts are ready to do it, but for the future of the game we must.
Kobe Bryant had a discipline to the game that you could not easily emulate. There are stories where he would psychologically beat you hours before the game began. Players today are clamoring for Kobe’s eye of the game, his instinct, his killer nature. That is something that Michael had, Kobe is better and it is ok to say that.