Blog Entry

Forget MJ, Kobe Bryant is a top 5 guard

Posted on: October 18, 2010 2:01 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 7:52 pm
Michael Jordan says Kobe Bryant is a top 10 guard of all time. He should have said top five.
Posted by Ben Golliver

In a recent interview with USA Today , Michael Jordan, the greatest player in the history of basketball, was asked how Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant stacks up to the greatest who have ever played the game.
It's so hard to say. I think he is always going to be within the conversations of some of the greatest players who've played by the time he is finished. Where does he rank among those, if you are talking about positions? If you are talking about guards, I would say he has got to be in the Top 10.

Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports caught up with Bryant for his reaction to Jordan's comment.
“It’s an accurate statement,” Bryant said. “I’m definitely one of the top 10 guards. It could mean two, it could mean one, it could mean four or five. I’m definitely one of the top thousand. Look, I know how he feels about me. “There have been a lot of great guards to play the game. For me to sit here and say, ‘He should have said top five,’ that’s disrespectful to the other guards that I’ve watched.”

In this case, I'm happy to be "disrespectful" to Jordan on Bryant's behalf: Michael Jordan should have said Kobe Bryant is a top five guard. Period.   In his 2009 The Book Of Basketball , Bill Simmons set out to rank the best players in the game, in part, to help settle questions like this one. Simmons ranked Bryant as the No. 15 player overall, and the only pure guards ranked ahead of Bryant were Jordan (No. 1 overall), Magic Johnson (No. 4 overall), Jerry West (No. 8 overall) and Oscar Robertson (No. 9 overall).  You can quibble over West/Robertson, but the rest, including Bryant, seem right to me. Since the book's release last fall, Bryant won another title with the Lakers, so his standing has only improved. Bryant refused to rank himself when given the opportunity by Spears, and this was a wise move, because current players will always be at a sentimental disadvantage when compared to retired players. Magic Johnson brings back memories, Oscar Robertson evokes tales, and Kobe Bryant still makes plays. That process of continually adding to his resume works against him whenever we try to assess his standing against stationary targets. Given that he is battling legends, the standard for Bryant to overtake guys like Robertson and West will be exceedingly high and probably not attainable until he retires, and his statistics and ring total go final.  Jordan and Johnson may wind up completely unassailable, regardless of how Bryant's career plays out, such is the magnitude of their cultural power.   Whether Bryant ever cracks that top two isn't today's discussion. Today, it's more important to realize that it's far more difficult to exclude Bryant from the top five guards of all time than it is to include him.  Who would you rather have? Bob Cousy? Isiah Thomas? John Stockton? Rick Barry? Cousy - with his titles, leadership and revolutionary back court play - makes the strongest sentimental case, but he doesn't pass the smell test. You don't think Kobe Bryant in his prime would wipe the parquet with Cousy in his prime if given the chance? On both ends Bryant's athleticism and length would be overpowering. As for the rest, they didn't win as often or in as dominating a fashingon as Bryant has. Jordan's comment shows an appreciation for the game's other great guards and, perhaps, a self-protective impulse. Surely it's easier for Jordan to remain king eternally if his strongest current challenger is given more ground to make up. It was a savvy play by Jordan and Bryant's response showed equal thoughtfulness.  Bryant knows historical rankings can't be campaigned for, they are given out collectively once they've been deemed "earned".  He also knows he's well on his way.
Since: Mar 29, 2009
Posted on: October 29, 2010 11:24 pm
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Since: Mar 4, 2008
Posted on: October 29, 2010 7:26 pm

Black Mamba? Retarded.

Black Mamba is the dumbest nickname I have ever heard, and it sounds like the kind of nickname that a 12-year-old would try to give himself, only to find that it never caught on.

It's the same with Kobe.  If you refer to him as the Black Mamba, you are going to be assumed a doofus by all you encounter.  His nickname will never catch on, and I will never become a Lakers fan until he leaves LA, because he is a piece of human trash.

Since: Mar 4, 2008
Posted on: October 29, 2010 7:21 pm

Forget MJ, Kobe Bryant is a top 5 guard

This might be the dumbest thing I have ever read the first two paragraphs of.

Since: Dec 15, 2008
Posted on: October 28, 2010 12:45 pm

Forget MJ, Kobe Bryant is a top 5 guard

This is the most Bias, one sided argument I've heard regarding these two.  Kobe can definitely be looked at as the greatest.  You made valid points for Jordan, now let's look at Kobe.  Jordan never had to guard the likes of a CArmelo, DWade, LeBron, or Durant.  Secondly, you NEVER saw Jordan go take the other teams point guard.  Jordan was a first tema all defensive player like LeBron, a great help defense, off the ball defender.  Kobe is first team all defense for his On-Ball defense.  Pippen guarded all of the other true scorers during the Jordan era.  And to be quite honest, there were no other true scorers in his era that were not power forwards or centers?  He was the only dominant guard/forward scorer besides Pippen, and Drexler, who Pippen guarded.  Secondly  just because Jordan ver lost an NBA Finals, and he only went to six, doesn't give him plus points, Kobe's ability to get his team to the Finals consistently is a plus point for him.  Kobe is the best closer EVER.  I like Jordan, but the torch IS and WILL be passed to the Black Mamba.  Like Cleveland fans, get over it.....

Since: Aug 29, 2006
Posted on: October 28, 2010 12:06 pm

Forget MJ, Kobe Bryant is a top 5 guard

You are right, Jordan never lost his 7th finals because he wasn't good enough to get to 7.  All you Kobe haters are going to run out of arguements if/when Kobe wins #6, then #7.  Jordan was great, so is Kobe.  When it is all said and done, everyone will debate Jorda/Kobe...who was

Since: Oct 3, 2009
Posted on: October 27, 2010 6:36 pm

Forget MJ, Kobe Bryant is a top 5 guard


Since: Oct 27, 2010
Posted on: October 27, 2010 11:01 am

Forget MJ, Kobe Bryant is a top 5 guard

I agree that Kobe is a top 5 guard.  However, he is NOT in the conversation of the GOAT.  He is NOT better than Michael Jordan and he WILL NOT be better than Michael Jordan.  Putting statistics aside (which clearly favor MJ), there are unequivocal facts which Kobe will never be able to overcome.  First, Michael Jordan never lost in a Finals.  He never even played a 7th Finals game.  Kobe, as we all know, has lost 2 Finals, one of which was a huge upset and the other was a complete embarrassment.  Secondly, Michael Jordan won 6 championships and 6 MVP's without the help of a dominant big man.  It is true that he had Scottie Pippen as a wingman, but Pippen did not have stellar Finals performances for the most part. Still, I should note that Pippen's defense was huge.  However, Shaq's first 3 championships allowed Kobe to ride his coattails (despite Kobe fans' argument that Kobe was as good as Shaq in those years - a completely absurd argument).  Therefore, while Kobe won 3 rings as a member of the Lakers, he was not the best player on those squads and he, nor his fans, can argue that the meaning of those titles somehow equate to MJ's first 3 titles.  In the current Lakers squad, Kobe is surrounded by big men - Gasol, Odom, Bynum and even Artest.  Merely looking at Kobe's atrocious game 7 performance against the Celtics, one shouldn't even think about placing him above MJ.  Which brings me to my last point:  Kobe has never matched or even come close to performing at MJ's level in a Finals.  He simply hasn't done anything spectacular.  So Laker/Kobe fans, give it a rest.  Sure, old man MJ appears to be bitter because he no longer plays, but he's the best player of all time.  Let Kobe cement his own place in the history books.  Let him be himself.  He can only reach as far as #2 best guard of all time, and that's perfectly fine.

Since: Jan 22, 2007
Posted on: October 24, 2010 4:47 pm

Forget MJ, Kobe Bryant is a top 5 guard

@onlineisdumb, I used to think the same way as you, that Kobe needed to up his fg%.  Then i was reading an article about fg% and MJ.  He went to the hoop a lot more than Kobe does.  Just like Shaq, who has a better fg% at 58% it is how close you are to the rim.  MJ shot more free throws than Kobe because he goes to the basket more and gets more calls. 

The game is different so direct comparison of numbers doesn't always tell the tale.  The other thing that works against Kobe is that Magic and MJ both had really likable personalities even when they were doing the wrong thing.  MJ had his share of off the floor and on the floor antics that exceed Kobe's.  The truth is, the personality made it all OK.  Hell, he played basketball with the Looney Tunes gang.  Majic and Bird resurrected the NBA and I have long argued that Majic is someone I would take over MJ if they were both in their prime and I was starting a team. 

Kobe is Kobe, and Kobe is awesome.  If not for the hate by the sports writers and the hate aimed at him by Laker haters, he would have more league MVPs.  He would have a higher stature.  Honestly, on the court, he is awesome. 

Since: Aug 22, 2007
Posted on: October 24, 2010 1:06 pm

Forget MJ, Kobe Bryant is a top 5 guard

To BIGCHIEFS:  In my opinion, your comment here on Kobe is one of the best written comments in all the years I have been reading comments on this site.  I do not know if your realize just how well-written this is.  If you are not already, you should be writing articles and/or books.  I would rate you as the number one comment-writer on this site.  Even though I do not agree that Kobe will go down as the best player in the history of basketball (time will tell that tale), I am mightily impressed with how you made your points.  It was like I travelled through a part of your personal history with you!  Thank you for this outstanding and superb post.  I'll have to add you to my favorites just to have a chance at reading some of your future masterpieces.

Since: Jun 6, 2009
Posted on: October 24, 2010 9:56 am

Forget MJ, Kobe Bryant is a top 5 guard

The first 4 guards on this list are clearly top All-Time players.  But the next 5 are pretty weak by comparison.  Cousy, Stockton, Thomas and Barry were all very good but none of them are in the conversation when greatest player of all time is discussesd.  To me, Jordan and Magic are 1 and 2 in basketball history, regardless of position.  After that, Robertson and West were before my time but I have seen enough highlights and listened to those who did see them play.  I think they probably belong in the top 5 all-time at Guard. 

Kobe is getting himself into the greatest player of all time conversation and I agree with the author that he is clearly in the top 5 at Guard all time. 

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or