Facebookian Opines Lengthen the Kobe Bryant Debate

By
Updated: May 22, 2012

(Article by Luke “Loco” Johnson. Forgive website faux pas.)

The genius of the now publicly – traded Facebook can be found within its blurred borders.

While people debate, rile and incite factions against governments, coin phrases, delight political oppositions with radical out-of-bounds statements, meet lovers, make friends, study for mid-terms, and make gobs of dollars through marketing their brands on the newly designed home page, all is done (excepting bloody revolutions overseas) slug-fest-free.

On Facebook, we’re in our lives, but not really…

And then the post topic shifts to the polarizing five-time champion, pop archetype, good-looking butt hole, Kobe Bryant, who alone can fragment friendships, devastate marriages and roil bar fights, resulting in arrests, broken noses, and jail time.

The arguments are fairly rooted in the despondent character’s ongoing love affair with drama. He is, with full certainty, the greatest basketball name since Michael Jordan — a name either celebrated with an intense love affair or consistently assassinated because of his despondency and smug stoicism.

The man known as the Black Mamba has collected ring lore, 29, 484 career points, a net worth of 200 million dollars, urban hip hop fascination, one MVP award, thirteen all-star appearances, a rape charge, and four scoring titles. Clearly, the question is not whether or not Kobe Bryant is great, but how great? How actually great is Kobe Bryant? Like a crystal prism, the answer to this question changes hews based upon our vantage point.

We’re all certain to view people from our own experiences and interpretation of history. We cannot know whether or not Kobe Bryant is a substantial upper echelon athlete from a historical standpoint without a set of rules to guide us there. But even these rules are relative to fan’s perspective and personal moral guidelines.

A recent Facebook update of mine simply said, “Kevin Durant > Kobe Bryant. Not surprisingly, my post elicited these types of responses  from Bryant appreciators: “It’s funny how you always compare players to him,” “So quick to anoint (in regards to Durant’s assumed legacy)” and “KD has to keep this up for like eight to ten more years and win three to four championships to get close to Kobe overall…”.

But so was not the case with names like Oscar Robertson, who born into a franchise, lead the Cincinnati Royals, now Milwaukee Bucks, to one championship over a stellar fourteen year career resulting in one MVP award, gobs of All Star appearances, and career numbers of 25.7 points, 9.5 assists and 7.5 rebounds. The man known as the Big O changed the game with his inside outside all around approach to taking over games both defensively and offensively. To be it simply: he was leading a poor franchise of mutes, not a team of shining stars.

His name brought about the follow up, to this critic’s muse: ” I would rank the Big O over Kobe and Oscar only had one. Shoot, I think Jerry West is arguably comparable on many facets: clutch gene, scoring ability, etc,…and West won only one and lost like five in a row at one point. Luke Walton wears rings! Jack Haley wears three rings!” 

Another chimed in: “Kobe is one of the greats to play to play in our lifetime! Kobe’s shortfall is that he is not as good at elevating his teammates. That is what made Jordan Jordan.” 

Ah, there it is again! The ghost of his Airness haunting Bryant eternally! But what good are definitions without legacy evaluations? Is it not flattery to be compared to the NBA’s Alexander the Pope? Even if the equation still stands: Michael Jordan > Kobe Bryant?

The dividing line has been laid. While none within the FB round-table would argue against Kobe’s legacy, as great from a basketball sense of the term, how great that greatness really is, is still up for debate.

Do O’Brien trophies establish the grandeur of legacy in its full authenticity? And how can one reconcile this with those who have come before and been throttled by bad franchises? We would have to digress into the annals of history in order to attain a more clearlydefined framework. Even that is a vapid journey.

A Bryant appreciator eased up and followed this with, “I’m not saying that you can’t be great without a ring…but it certainly is important when the career of a player is discussed, especially if the player had a dominant role in each title win.”

Yet again, “ dominant role,” takes on a life of its own.  Did not Robert Horry – aka “Big Shot Bob” – play a “dominant role” each time he hit a clutch three in playoff games for the Rockets, Lakers and Spurs? And he was a role player with career averages of 7.0 points and 4.8 rebounds, en route to seven rings.

The smeary painting of a morally relative society concocts confusion and creates inconclusive stakes in popular claims. The A becomes the predicate to the B, but the answer to both A and B are never 1000% truth from the collective of our societal consciousness.

Our language is fragmented depictions of our surroundings—for instance, the above phrase like dominant role or verbiage like great— muddy under such inconclusive insecurities, and kiss a shot at real, rational data-collecting goodbye.

Therefore, Kobe Bryant is both the assertion and the inverse to that assertion. He played both a  dominant role and a non- dominant role throughout his playoff career.

So how can fans ever agree on anything then?  We can’t. But we can look at athletic superiority with the eyes of art appreciators.

This is was the driving point to another assertion by me, a non-Bryant fan“ I respect Kobe for what he is: A top-15 player of all-time….the second greatest scorer in league history (behind MJ)…hall of famer…and top–five Laker of all-time.”

I shy away from hoisting the all-encompassing mantle of Michael Jordan or Wilt Chamberlain onto Bryant’s shoulders while endowing the infamous Laker with ratchets of glory. Such a list of praise could be compared to winning the Pulitzer Prize in poetry, being featured alongside Picasso in a painting gallery or sweeping awards in musical mastery.

Despite this, our fansmanship is irrationally constituted by both our fascinations and our semi-surreal memory banks. Such imaginary brews give players like Kobe Bryant near mythical status — not as the flesh-and-blood basketball player with real flaws and fissures, but rather as the supernatural warrior with the inability to fail. This of course, is part of our human makeup, something evolution never grew us out of. We need to tell stories — big stories — about survival, conquest and conquer, and most importantly, about the hero who took us there.

Dependent upon what vantage point you take, the former number eight, continues to dumbfound pop culture with his iconic legacy. His swag, dramatic split from Shaquille O’Neal, game winners, rape charge, 81 – point outing and infamous 2006 game-seven refusal to re-enter play against the Phoenix Suns in the playoffs, amounts to a stubborn star with a tempestuously  exquisite torch— one that will shine in the hearts of fans far beyond our current Facebookian comprehensions of him.  We are sheep to the slaughter of our lust for opposing opines, so give in and let go. Be in everyone’s life, but not really.

18 comments
owenmain
owenmain

So Luke, would you argue that KD is a better defender now than KB? Everyone, Luke and I continued this conversation about Kobe the other day. It started with me wanting to ask questions and get short answers from LJ but neither of us could help but to get into a pretty heated debate... Check it. http://www.fansmanship.com/may-23-2012-podcast/

owen
owen

yeah, I'm going to have to disagree with you there... seriously dude. He's 6'11" and while freaky in balance, lateral movement, etc..., he's still 6'11". Even now I don't think KD is a better perimeter defender than KB. Who does Kobe guard that lights up the Lakers?

Luke Johnson
Luke Johnson

nada, because he never guards the great players.

Jake
Jake

Lol... are you kidding me Luke... he never guards great players???? Wow.... ... great decisive comment. You truly are a great writer..

Luke Johnson
Luke Johnson

Jake pay attention. Kobe has always been an overrated defensive player. He guards a player, they light him up, and the Lakers slot him against a less mobile scorer. Watch old film against the likes of T - Mac, Vince Carter, AI,D - Wade, etc...he get's rolled over. Kobe is an average defender.

Luke Johnson
Luke Johnson

Andy the Kevin Durant > Kobe Bryant equation was directed in the NOW, not in a career in it's entirety.

Andrew Stevens
Andrew Stevens

How does Durant's game allow for others to get involved when he gets the ball and then goes to the hole and scores? JUST like Kobe does. Just because you don't happen to LIKE Kobe doesn't mean your comparison of apples to apples means it ...is somehow apples to oranges! WESTBROOK and HARDEN were the facilitators in that series. That much is obvious. But then again, one needs to consider the bias hatred for Kobe in your take, right? So you are seriously with a straight face going to blame THE LEAGUE'S ASSIST CRITERIA in able to downplay Kobe's assist numbers over Durant? HAHAHAHAHA Wow that is truely short-sighted and pathetic. That is such a weak argument that belon...gs on the 5th grade recess playground. WOW. “The NBA assist-criteria is pro-Kobe?” MY GOD that is so freaking sad dude! That's all you have on that? I know its hard to argue against facts, but just because YOU DON'T LIKE KOBE doesn't mean he hasn't gotten SEVERAL people more involved throughout his career. You are so blind to his recent need to be the ultimate scorer because his team is so weak and is so lost, that you fail to recognize what he has done all-time as a facilitator? Way to see the big picture, transparent hater. My god that is so sad. And no, your take about Jack Haley and Kobe WAS IN FACT comparing them to each other! That was the whole “mantra” of your take buddy! That it doesn't matter how many titles you have, that titles DOESN'T EQUAL greatness, because Kobe has t...hem, and Jack Haley has them! So what does it matter, right? Since they both have them? NICE TRY. Quit backing away from your aimless idea that titles don't matter! THAT WAS YOUR WHOLE POINT WAS IT NOT? Quit backpedaling! KD 3pt fg% in the past 5 years is 36.2, Kobe 33.6 in the past 5 years, Durant may shoot it at a slightly higher rate, but Kobe has made 1,000 more than KD. Another one of those “we'll see when he gets to that mark” idea. It isn't a true argument that means anything other than pig shit until Durant reaches that mark of 1,000 more. And until then, there is no argument otherwise. Better closer (with the “now” caviot?) HAHAHA “Now, then, here, there, then, when?” HAHAHAHA HOW CONVENIENT! OF COURSE! What the hell does that even mean? The >

Kurt
Kurt

A wise man once said, "Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming." Our society is fixated on the outcome. Coach Wooden said he was just as successful in a season when he once went 14-12 as he was in a perfect season leading to a championship.

Jake
Jake

But we wouldn't remember him if he didn't win those championships....

Luke Johnson
Luke Johnson

Jake, do you remember Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, John Stockton, Bernard King, Walt Bellamy, George "the Iceman" Gervin, Pistol Pete, Reggie Miller and Elgin Baylor?

Jake
Jake

First off... Did you even read my first reply? Because if you did then you would not have asked me that question .... And in this particular comment I was referring to coach Wooden. And if coach Wooden never won would we even be quoting him? You are wrong if you say yes. It is easy for the all time great ucla coach to say that loosing is just as meaningful. But would if mike brown were to say that now, just an example, we would think he is an idiot.

Gary Sisler
Gary Sisler

I'm not getting involved in these shenanigans anymore. Rating players is like rating presidents, they are greats and then there's everyone else. It's about rings, nothing else matters, we don't care if Kobe wins MVP, we care if the Lakers win a ring. If Kobe is involved then he is. Jordan won rings, he won them in style. His final three years with the bulls those teams were dream teams. They could of won the Olympics with the teams from the final three Jordan years. I don't care about all of this back and forth stuff, Kobe is great. who cares if he doesn't give a crap about Shaq and anybody else. why does he need to like everyone? its about winning, and he's won five. when we start getting in to stats and comparing players its never going to satisfy anyone, someone will always be compromising with someone else, its a never ending vicious circle.. its fun everyone once in a while when someone good finally comes along but not three, four times a year. with Kobe aging the way he is I would like to see him get one more ring. as a fan of the game, a fan of Kobe's I think he does need it to move his way up to the top of a very difficult list of non comparable players. these are random thoughts, it all comes out so fast. the only difference is I typed it this time..

Luke Johnson
Luke Johnson

Gary we can't pretend like comparisons don't matter. Therefore one could argue ridiculous things: T-Mac > Kobe Bryant and make it as believable as anything else. You can pretend that players like Bryant, James, Wade, Nowitzki, Duncan, KG, Pierce, Allen, etc, don't care about their ranking (or place?) in the annals of history, but that's just being ignorant. This is complimentary to Bryant. We're debating in a round table fashion the historical place of one man in the great sport of basketball. Pretty awesome if you ask me. And no, winning championships are not the only thing that makes a star a star, a great a great. There are too many random things that go into it.

Jake
Jake

I would like it if my quotes were correctly cited... lol Interesting article. Fun to read and I am supportive! I am amazed that a simple "Durant > Kobe" post created all of the confrontation. I'm even more amazed that I have been thinkin...g about this all day, catching myself reading the updates on my smart phone every 15 mins while working. I can't get it out of my mind and this has been fun to be apart of and follow. I have come up with one question that I would like to be answered. I am asking this because of the comments made about championships won and what the meaning is. Assuming most of us can agree that Jordan is the best basketball player of all time, I ask this. WOULD WE ALL FEEL THE SAME IF HE HAD ONLY WON 1 TITTLE??? I will begin with my response: No. Greats are made in the post season. Jordan's legacy was built on simply not losing. Being able to do whatever it takes to get to the next round. Although he had lost play off series, he never lost a NBA finals. It is truly amazing to be on the biggest stage in basketball 6 times and never fail. He always seemed to hit the shot that needed to be made. MJ is the reason why other great NBA players don't have rings. Barkely, Mail man, Stockton... the list goes on. That says a lot about a player. Imagine if they all had shared the rings..... what would we think of MJ then. . And yes Jordan was surrounded by great role players and coaching, lets not forget that. But he was the MAN! The majority of MJ highlights you see are Post Season, from Gatorade commercials to you tube. It is what we know him for. The post season is 2 Months of Basketball out of the year! And when I player completes those extra 2 months of basketball 6 times on top... that is an entire year, 12 months, of straight dominants. MJ Broke more Basketball fans hearts than any other player in history. This is what Makes him the greatest of all time. And why Championships are the most important aspects to consider when talking about all time great players...but he could not hit a curve ball....