Forward Three wrote:
JGC wrote:4) Luck and Great Fortune. Timing is key. Jordan came in at a time when the sport needed someone. In a way, Kobe had good timing in the sense that he started to come on, as Jordan left the game. But Kobe also had obstacles in his way. He had Shaq and now Lebron. So there's a bit of a luck factor there as well.
I would actually argue that this was a contributing factor to a lot of the hate Kobe gets as well. Just as Jordan was finishing up being the GOAT, along comes this KID who not only has the gall and gumption to even approach the idea that he could ever be 'as good' or 'better', but that very quickly through his play starts to demonstrate that he actually can approach and surpass that level(if not overall, then surely in pieces). It certainly didn't help that they are physically almost identical(Once Kobe bulked up at least)
So while it was advantageous for Kobe to not have to be vying against a Jordan-Caliber player at the same time and Kobe was able to 'own' the league for at least a few years(and ultimately has gone down as the de facto player of the '00-'10 decade*) I think in terms of "Kobe Hate" a good deal of that sprang up from having a player like Kobe arrived on the scene so shortly after Jordan was winding down.
I mean, part of why we hate on Lebron is because he showed up and started being incredible right in the middle of Kobe's best years, and in a similar way has been as transcendent and even surpassing what Kobe could do(if not overall then certainly in pieces). But ultimately, that is just kind of the way it goes I guess, just as surely as Lebron 'owns' the league today, Kevin Durant is starting to look increasingly unstoppable and showing himself to be one of the best scorers we've seen in a long time. I'd bet anything that in 4 or 5 years, when Lebron is winding down a bit, when KD is at his peak, there will be another young player who defies all of our expectations and plays in a transcendent way.
Well, in the 4 areas that I mentioned (all of which are prerequisites IMO for GOAT consideration), I'll explain where I believe Kobe fell short at least in terms of being at MJs level. I want to preface my explanations by saying Kobe is still way up there IMO, and definitely #2 at the SG position, so I'm only stating why I believe Kobe cannot supplant MJ as the widely regarded GOAT.
1) On-Court Success. Of the 4, this is where Kobe shines most IMO. Kobe is considered the more complete offensive player to Jordan, and even those who played with MJ have gone on record with that sentiment. He's got the rings and scoring titles. Jordan edged Kobe on defense, with his DPOY but for most of Kobe's career, he was no slouch either. I don't necessarily agree that Kobe owned the league in 00-10 though and here's why. For the first few years of that decade, he played along side Shaq who really was the dominating force in the league at the time. Kobe was A dominating force, but not even THE dominating force on his own team at the time. Kobe went nuts after the Shaq era, but then we weren't even a winning team. When Kobe finally had some help, that's when he owned the league IMO and turned that ownage into the epitome of on-court success (rings). The other area here too is a lot of people are saying LBJ would not have thrived or done as well in the 80s/90s, so if that's the case, then Kobe wouldn't have either.
2) Brand Building. Well, Kobe probably won't ever be a very good businessman, and he was never really able to establish a true brand identity. He was a winner, yes, but so were and have been many players. Brand building is about establishing a unique and clear identity that people want to align with. Granted, it may not have ever happened simply because Kobe didn't care about it and not because he couldn't. He also had some off-court incidents which hurt the ability to build up his brand. Kobe sold a ton of jerseys with his play, not necessarily with his brand and not having brand identity means you're not as big a part of the conversation.
3) Revolutionize the Industry. I think Shaq really was the one changing the game. They created new rules to slow him down. They have strategies named after him 'Hack-a-Shaq'. Teams definitely (and obviously) had to game plan for Kobe but they have to game plan for a lot of players also. I am not convinced he forever changed the sport in his time.
4) Luck. Kobe hasn't had bad luck, but he hasn't been especially lucky either. His best season statistically, was one of his worst seasons wins wise. He had Shaq to contend with and in recent years, Lebron. He's had the fortune of playing with and against two once-in-a-generation type players in those guys, but you can also view it as a misfortune since it made it harder for him to stand alone at the top. It's rather unfortunate that in his prime, he just didn't have a team strong enough to contend. Just bad timing. You can't hold that against Kobe because he doesn't manage the team, but you can't ignore it either. The timing was good and bad for Kobe. Good because he was able to come in at a time when Shaq was in his prime and win championships. Bad because he came in at a time when, well, Shaq was in his prime. And like I said before, now he has to contend with LBJ in his prime.