The Los Angeles Lakers have had a long list of stars put on their jersey over the years, with Kobe Bryant being the most-recent to sit upon the throne.
Bryant spent two decades in Los Angeles, pushing his body to its limits and beyond while thrilling fans with countless unforgettable moments. But should he be in the conversation when debating who is the greatest player of all-time?
Despite five NBA championships, an MVP trophy and 18 All-Star appearances, Bryant is often left out of the short list of players who could be considered the greatest.
Tracy McGrady, a superstar in his own right who battled Bryant for years, told ESPN L.A. that Bryant should not be overlooked:
“How do people just skip over Kobe like Kobe wasn’t nice like that though?"
– @Real_T_Mac on people forgetting about Kobe in the GOAT conversation
— ESPNLosAngeles (@ESPNLosAngeles) May 9, 2018
Some don’t include Bryant in the debate because he played alongside stars like Shaquille O’Neal and Pau Gasol when he brought home championships to Los Angeles, while others dig into advanced stats to pick apart Bryant’s efficiency.
Part of the issue with Bryant being included in these discussions is that we are only two years removed from his playing days, and Bryant has always been an extremely polarizing figure. He tormented teams with his skills on the court, causing some to develop an intense dislike for Bryant.
On the other end of the spectrum, Bryant’s legion of loyal supporters defends him unwaveringly, creating an environment where an objective, unbiased discussion of Bryant’s place in history can be difficult to achieve.
The bottom line, however, is that names like Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Wilt Chamberlain are often mentioned when trying to determine the greatest of all time, and being anywhere close to that group is a major compliment.
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