“There’s no doubt in my mind that it’s Kobe’s goal to be better than Michael Jordan. A lot of people that are great basketball players wouldn’t even attempt like, saying it. That would be like, off limits. And, I commend Kobe for that. A lot of people are scared to walk in those shoes”. – Lamar Odom, The Association: Los Angeles Lakers
Here we are. One night away, one more ring to win. If the Lakers are able to vanquish both the Boston Celtics and the demons by whom they have been haunted by for the last two years, our iconic superstar we’ve seen grow and mature right before our eyes for the last 14 years, will stand just one title away from the man that he is an all too eerie replica of.
Kobe Bryant, basketball’s most polarizing figure, may be playing for his fifth championship, but deep within his spirit, exists a personal conquest to behest Michael Jordan’s legacy behind his own. What was once a pedestal thought to be many moons beyond any point that could even be dreamed of by any NBA player that has come since his Airness, the Black Mamba slithers ever so closer to the summit.
Perhaps one day, if we’re lucky, Kobe will personally admit to the world that he has always wanted to exceed the standard set by Michael. Their basketball personas bear an uncanny resemblance to one another – be it devastating offensive abilities, lock-down defensive capabilities, the intensity with which they train and play, and of course, the sub-zero glacier river storming through their veins in the clutch.
The obvious glaring discrepancy is their off-court personalities, an issue that the majority of critics agree, no one has ever come close to having MJ’s enthralling charm.
Kobe does indeed make certain that he is perceived in the proper light, a task that he has committed himself to for the last six years, but on the same token, he is more obsessed with how he will be remembered as a basketball player. In the current population of NBA athletes, from the elite to the 15th man, there is not a single soul whose nucleus burns and hungers for a championship more than his. The Mamba’s heart beats for three reasons: his wife, his kids and to win.
That drive to always play for a title and make the necessary sacrifices is what separates him from any other superstar in the league.
We can only wonder what thoughts and emotions are flowing throughout Kobe’s mind as he sits less than 48 hours away from Game 1 of his seventh NBA Finals berth. Think about that for a moment – the Mamba has played for the championship in seven of his 14 professional seasons. The fact that this particular Finals comes as his second shot at immortalizing his place in Lakers history could not set up his narrow path to ultimate greatness, anymore beautifully.
NEXT: Nothing less than BEST