I’ve been watching basketball since the day I was born. When I say the day I was born, I mean the day I was born. If you’re a little older than I am, you’d probably say you’ve never seen anyone like Michael Jordan. I wasn’t quite old enough to clearly remember Michael Jordan. Therefore, it is my privilege to say that I’ve never seen a player like Kobe Bryant, A.K.A the Black Mamba.
Kobe Bryant is the best player I have even seen play because, well, just because he’s Kobe Bryant. Mamba’s combination of unbelievable skill, extremely rare clutch genetics, and number one assassin mentality have made him the most unbelievable player I have ever seen. Of course, the only other man in this debate is LeBron “King” James. As I see it, there are two significant differences between the two.
Although James may not be done, the first difference is ring count: five to two. Killer mentality was a huge force that drove Bryant to his five championship trophies. Mamba has always been determined to be the best of the best. Sure, it’s awesome to be remembered as one of the greats of a generation. But there’s nothing better than being remembered as a champion. Both Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan have that label while James still has to prove he can win with an older team or, perhaps, a change of scenery.
The second difference between the two greats is coming through in the clutch. James may have an everlasting highlight reel of vicious dunks and unbelievable plays, but he doesn’t have this: Kobe Bryant’s career game-winning shots. This video shows Kobe’s 28 game-winning shots at the last second. Kobe and Jordan somewhat resemble each other in the aspect of being clutch and hitting game-winners. There’s no defending Kobe Bryant when the clock is about to strike zero. The opposing coach could never expect his team’s defense to cause Kobe to miss. However, all he could ask for was 100% effort in trying to stop the cold-blooded mamba.
As explained in Phil Jackson’s novel, Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success, Kobe and Jordan were uniquely different in how they succeeded. However, I can tell you that both players absolutely killed to win. They did whatever they had to do get the job done. In fact, both would get the job overdone. Both Kobe and M.J. would push their teammates to the point their teammates could no longer stand them. At the same time, everyone understood they had no choice but to respect the game’s greatest because it would only help.
I’m not, by any means, writing off the possibility of LeBron James being considered the best player of the 21st century. But as it stands today, Kobe Bryant sits on the throne and James has a lot of work to do in order to overtake it.
Follow me on Twitter @ZJTbasketball11