The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Faceoff: Kobe Bryant

20 years ago Kobe Bryant, the Black Mamba,  an offensive minded young star from Lower Merion High School in Pennsylvania decided to take his talents to the National Basketball Association.

It was clear the youngster was talented. Everyone knew he would likely be a force to be reckoned with. However, no one could have ever fathomed just what he would mean to the game of basketball or its fans.

Now almost two decades, five championships, and several individual accolades later Bryant has finally decided to call it quits. With him he takes a legacy that will live on for decades to come.

With his NBA career now in the rearview, many NBA fans are sure to attempt to figure out where the Black Mamba will rank amongst the all-time greats. 

For those looking for a frame of reference as to where that might be, cite the comments of Laker great Earvin “Magic” Johnson. Moments before Bryant’s spirited 60-point farewell ensued, Johnson called Bryant the greatest Laker of all time.

That is coming from a guy who has not only just as many championships as Bryant, but whom also had a statue erected outside of Staples Center in his honor.

Even with the words of Johnson ringing fresh in their ears, there are assuredly doubters who are not so easily convinced. 

Those in search for a more solid comparison to a man who was at one point the game’s best player will tend to look in the direction of the man who many view as one of the best in the world today: Lebron James.

True enough, King James is certainly a worthy comparison to Bryant. According to he has averaged 27 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists per game over the course of his career, a mark slightly better that Bryant’s career averages of 25 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists.

James’ supporters will say he is a better team player, more efficient and simply an all around better player. But this is an argument that draws its depth in places other than numbers.

First off, the inference that James is anywhere near the offensive stalwart that Bryant once was is simply incorrect. On his best nights Bryant was virtually unstoppable. Ask the Toronto Raptors, the team he dropped 81 points on, a mark that remains the closest anyone has ever come to eclipsing the 100-point mark set by Wilt Chamberlain.

Ask the Dallas Mavericks, the team the Black Mamba torched for 62 points, in three quarters no less. He would shatter the 60-point mark five additional times in his illustrious career. 

Scoring outputs like these helped bolster Bryant to third-place on the all time scoring list. King James on the other hand, has yet to register 50 points in a game.

Then there’s Bryant’s laundry list of accolades. That list includes a regular season MVP, 18 NBA All-Star selections, 15 All-NBA Team selections and three All-Star MVP awards. For years, he has epitomized what the best of the best should look like.

Finally, the biggest thing that sets the two apart is killer instinct. In the final seconds of the game, Kobe was at his best. Not only did he thrive in those moments, he embraced them.

Whenever the Lakers needed a comeback, whenever they were in desperate need of points, whenever it was all on the line it was Bryant who they looked to.

In fact, according to an article on James is 11 percent on game-winning shots, while Kobe is 27 percent on such shots. 

If anyone needs any further   assurance that Bryant is the better of the two just check the hardware. The last time I checked five was a bigger number than two and that is the difference in championship rings.

Hate it or love it Bryant is the better player. Just ask Larry Bird. “If you want to have fun play with Lebron,” the hall-of-famer said. “If you want to win and win and win, it’s   Kobe.

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The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University
Faceoff: Kobe Bryant