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Sunday, October 20th, 2013 at 12:00 pm  |  126 responses

Top 50: Kobe Bryant, no. 6

‘The last chapter’ is upon us.

by Ben Collins / @oneunderscore__

It’s 4 a.m., Kobe Bryant is off somewhere drinking mule sweat or something, and he is not happy.

He’s not happy because for the first time since Michael Jordan left the NBA, he’s going into the season as the second-best shooting guard in basketball. Or third. Or fourth. He is pissed. He is probably spitting out the mule sweat.

But here’s the thing: Kobe Bryant’s ranking in the SLAM Top 50 is not an indictment on Kobe Bryant. It’s an indictment on mule sweat, or whatever the hell he’s drinking or eating or doing to repair his torn left achilles.

He’s getting the best treatment in the world. It’s probably illegal. He’s probably going to turn green by the time he’s 57. Technology is incredible, but technology sucks compared to how badly Kobe wants to play basketball again while he can still win a Championship by himself.

Depending on what reports you’ll read, he’ll be back on opening night. Or by Thanksgiving. Or by Christmas. Or he’ll take the year off if they’re tanking. (By the way, you be the guy who has to tell Kobe that he’s not playing this year when they’re 7-15. I dare you.) This is the reason he’s No. 6 in the SLAM Top 50, and not No. 2 or 3. This is the reason there is a Rocket with a beard and a better coach ahead of him somewhere on this list.

It’s not because he doesn’t still have it. He still has it. Good God, does he still have it.

If you want proof, you should probably revisit the night his achilles chose not to keep up with him anymore.

I was in a bar in L.A. when this went down, because that is the place you hang out, alone, almost every night of the week when you’re a New York Giants fan. When he limped off (for the second time that night, mind you—he’d gotten kneed in the thigh earlier, and that looked worse), there wasn’t a hush. It wasn’t like the movies. There was no record screeching. The bar was too loud for that.

But one guy did yell this: “Oh, JEEE-ZUS CHRIST.” Just like that, all big and Ron Burgundy and guttural like that. There aren’t many epiphany moments out there in the universe, but this guy very quickly came to the realization that this team was now Dwight Howard’s team, and Dwight Howard doesn’t like playing basketball.

The Lakers needed to win nine of their last 10 to make the Playoffs. They did it and because this was the stretch Kobe had before he went down: In his last seven games, he dropped 28.8 ppg, 8.3 apg and 7.3 rpg. The Lakers won six of them. He played 43 or more minutes in all of those games, and at least 47 in four of them.

And then his achilles gave up because no one should be doing that kind of thing at 34.

The Lakers made the Playoffs last year, but they didn’t show up. They didn’t have their rock anymore. Looking back at it, there’s no non-emotional reason the Lakers should have stopped competing in the first round against the Spurs last year.

They didn’t play hard because they didn’t have Kobe. Without Kobe, they did not have a real chance. Without Kobe, it wasn’t even worth pretending that wasn’t true.

Pau Gasol was there and healthy and waiting for someone to use his high screens. Steve Nash was wearing a walk-in freezer on his lower back to keep it cool, but he was still available to run an offense. After a decade in the NBA, Steve Blake figured out that he should’ve been a shooting guard that whole time. Metta World Peace was his normal defensive lunatic self. Dwight Howard was present, technically, in the the physical sense.

To recap, that’s one definite Hall of Famer, two potential Hall of Famers, and a guy who plays defense like Lenny from “Of Mice and Men.” Still, after Game 2, they just quit.

Steve Nash hurt too much, Steve Blake hurt too much, Metta hurt too much, and Dwight Howard didn’t feel like playing for the Lakers anymore.

After Game 3, when the Lakers lost by 31 to the Spurs at home and L.A. started Andrew Goudelock and Darius Morris in their backcourt, Mike D’Antoni said this quote, verbatim: “We’ll play as hard as we can play and hopefully it’ll work out a little better.” He wasn’t even hoping his team would win the next game, he was hoping things would work out better if they played as hard as they could.

Why? Because Kobe Bryant wasn’t on the floor anymore. That is it. That is the only reason.

Kobe Bryant is the Lakers. That’s not stopping this year. Rankings on the Internet don’t matter. If he plays, L.A. will get hot and scare the West. If he doesn’t, they’ll be hunting for Randles and Wigginses. It’s that easy.

And by the way, tell him he should be ranked worse than sixth on the SLAM Top 50. See what happens.

Where should Kobe Bryant rank in the SLAM Top 50?

Loading ... Loading ...
SLAMonline Top 50 Players 2013
Rank Player Team Position Pos. Rank
50 Monta Ellis Mavs SG 5
49 Luol Deng Bulls SF 10
48 Ricky Rubio TWolves PG 14
47 Greg Monroe Pistons PF 12
46 Kawhi Leonard Spurs SF 9
45 Mike Conley Grizzlies PG 13
44 Al Jefferson Bobcats C 9
43 David Lee Warriors PF 11
42 Jrue Holiday Pelicans PG 12
41 Anthony Davis Pelicans PF 10
40 Joe Johnson Nets SG 4
39 Serge Ibaka Thunder PF 9
38 Kevin Garnett Nets PF 8
37 Rudy Gay Raptors SF 8
36 Paul Pierce Nets SF 7
35 Ty Lawson Nuggets PG 11
34 Pau Gasol Lakers PF 7
33 Al Horford Hawks C 8
32 Andre Iguodala Warriors SF 6
31 Brook Lopez Nets C 7
30 Zach Randolph Grizzlies PF 6
29 DeMarcus Cousins Kings C 6
28 Damian Lillard Blazers PG 10
27 Josh Smith Hawks SF 5
26 Joakim Noah Bulls C 5
25 Roy Hibbert Pacers C 4
24 John Wall Wizards PG 9
23 Chris Bosh Heat C 3
22 Tim Duncan Spurs PF 5
21 Dirk Nowitzki Mavs PF 4
20 LaMarcus Aldridge Blazers PF 3
19 Rajon Rondo Celtics PG 8
18 Marc Gasol Grizzlies C 2
17 Blake Griffin Clippers PF 2
16 Deron Williams Nets PG 7
15 Kevin Love TWolves PF 1
14 Dwyane Wade Heat SG 3
13 Paul George Pacers SF 4
12 Russell Westbrook Thunder PG 6
11 Tony Parker Spurs PG 5
10 Stephen Curry Warriors PG 4
9 Kyrie Irving Cavs PG 3
8 Dwight Howard Rockets C 1
7 Derrick Rose Bulls PG 2
6 Kobe Bryant Lakers SG 2

Rankings are based on expected contribution in ’13-14—to players’ team, the League and the game.

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  • star

    about time you appeared, Mr bryant……………..

  • Elliot

    400 comments at least on this article.. Prepare for all the kobe lovers to come out and argue that his ranking deserves to be even higher than this even though he’s coming off what could’ve been a career ending injury

  • Love The Game

    Been waiting for this. Good write up. I personally think Kobe is still great. I just feel that if he can be top 10 because if his crazy will to win, Westbrook should be top 10 too. Now let the collective rage begin. Both for and against.

  • MM

    Lebron’s ranking still higher than the Black Mamba thru the years

  • spit hot fiyah

    “Depending on what reports you’ll read, he’ll be back
    on opening night. Or by Thanksgiving. Or by Christmas. Or he’ll take the
    year off if they’re tanking. (By the way, you be the guy who has to
    tell Kobe that he’s not playing this year when they’re 7-15. I dare
    you.) This is the reason he’s No. 6 in the SLAM Top 50, and not No. 2 or
    3.”

    so kobe at 35 coming off one of the worst injuries a basketball player can have, dropped 3-4 spots. and westbrook coming off a rather minor knee injury and we know when he will be back drops like 6 spots and out of the top 10?

    please justify that

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    I am only here to say this write up is awesome. Really really well done.

  • yup

    Duh age and athleticism alone will get him a higher ranking than Kobe.

  • yup

    for what we already know why he isn’t at least ranked number 3. We also know why he’ll go down as one of the greatest of ALL time.

  • Harvey

    1225

  • BugEyes

    The mice and men reference got me lol

  • Drig

    Aside from the small issue of LBJ, Durant and CP3 being the reason Kobe’s not in the top 3 ( and even that’s down to age……… ) , I thought this write-up was awesome.

    Still, if you guys went as far as putting Kobe past Rose and Dwight, it would’ve made sense if he was also ranked ahead of Harden seeing as he was shockingly better at D than Harden at 34 and the issue of Harden having to get used to a premier post player….

  • guest

    This topic has already been discussed multiple times on other rankings, so I bet not.

  • Nick Holden

    But you forget, this is Kobe Bryant, and Kobe Bryant is not effected by injuries like the rest of the population. The mamba mentality outworks any injury, even if the injury requires rest. True story.

  • danpowers

    kudos to the write up.

  • The Last Mamba

    1225

  • danpowers

    given the circumstances… a litte late

  • AddingVelocityDontTellMe

    your able to write great praise but if scoop was writing you would be left speechless

    notice i put kobe at 6 and james harden at 3. i have correctly deduced the illogical algorithm of Slam. hip hip hoorray

  • Conor

    Post-achilles Kobe will still be a better defender than Harden.

  • AddingVelocityDontTellMe

    why do people still believe this? if harden has howard and asik backing him you know his rate of steals will increase. so he’ll appear as a better defensive presence on the court. He may not slide his feet as well as kobe or check his man but overall harden will know be able to roam like the jaguars of senagal.

  • shockexchange

    When he’s surrounded by “exceptionally more talent than the rest of the L”, Horry Jr is clearly top 6 or even higher. Otherwise, not so much.

  • Adam Figman

    So great.

  • Conor

    You’ll see when they physically play games which count. Last time I checked, Bryant’s roaming defence was a massive asterix next to his overall prowess.

    James Harden is not better than Kobe.

  • Slick Ric

    I respect Kobe but Slam is tripping, the man is 35, come on.

  • i_ball

    Great write up! But it seems SLAM was afraid to tell Kobe that next season he probably won’t be a top 10 player…

  • star

    the best thing about this is…. we are entering the top 5!
    NBA SEASON IS ALMOST HEREEE!!!!!!!

  • Slick Ric

    See, people get it confused, the Mamba birthed Mother Nature and Father Time. That’s is why he’s impervious to mere mortal affliction and actually gets younger with age. True story.

  • underdog

    Dude, get over it. Thanks.

  • underdog

    The damn shame is, that whenever Kobe comes back, he still has to play under D’Antoni.

  • AddingVelocityDontTellMe

    Are you sure?

  • AddingVelocityDontTellMe

    placebo effect

  • AddingVelocityDontTellMe

    why? let him speak let i speak let him speak? freedommmm.

    @d89d81f673dac06b16cade5b4bf19954:disqus

  • Conor

    Yes.

    He isn’t yet, but he shall be soon.

  • spit hot fiyah

    just looking for an explanation that’s all man. it’s just a ranking based on forecast basically, i don’t care if they have kobe at #1 or #20, i really don’t. i do want to see some consistency in the justification for the rankings and some good writing to defend it, that’s all.

  • AddingVelocityDontTellMe

    aight conor. where do you live? near chicago?

  • Caboose

    If Kobe is 6, that means someone voted him top 5 at the minimum. That’s disgusting to me, especially since he was borderline top 5 last year. What, is he going to improve?

    And Mr. Collins, I appreciate the effort, but I wasn’t a fan of the write up. I know your job isn’t to argue directly to the contractors, it’s to explain a ranking, but I don’t know. It lacked substance where I wanted it most.

  • Conor

    Canada. When I was younger I trained with Dave Smart and ended up coaching myself, though I haven’t exactly reached the prime of my life.

    Are you from Massachusetts?

  • just about right

    Slam – how can you have two guys who doesn’t play D, which is litteraly half the game, in your top five. Please explain?

  • i_ball

    Actually the write explains the only reason Kobe is ranked that high – his mentality. I don’t agree with the ranking but write up is good

  • shockexchange

    The glass is always half-full with this guy. When the Lakers take the cake – “Look what Horry Jr did.” When they don’t – his teammates get thrown under the bus.

  • underdog

    I totally get it, and I’ve got it since you’ve posted the same to #7, #8, #9 etc… Thing is, it’s a top 50 about players who play a team sport. It’s supposed to be a warm up for the season, not a scientific research paper. Yeah, they put Kobe ahead of Westbrook, Kobe is way more popular than Russ, in general, and also here on this site, boom. No consistency here, and it’s too bad, you’re right about that, though. Peace.

  • Caboose

    I wanted a justification for why other players dropped more for less severe injuries. Seems hypocritical to me, and I just wanted to see that addressed, beyond Kobe’s “mentality,” because if that was all it was, Jordan would still be playing.

  • ballislife

    Borderline top 5 ? You sir are are a blind hater. Come on does Kobe really blind you that much ? Dam Kobe really must be that good if people will waste their life and argue against him in every possible thread. Other than Lebron or Durant followed by Chris Paul. Those three are definitely better than Kobe. Thus, the ranking is fair.

  • http://www.rich-imaging.com/ Dutch Rich

    Melo haters headz bout to explode on tuesday!

  • AddingVelocityDontTellMe

    Why do I sound like a bostonite

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    “He’s getting the best treatment in the world. It’s probably illegal. He’s probably going to turn green by the time he’s 57. “

  • danpowers

    i will sooo love that lol

  • Conor

    I took a stab at your name somehow being connected to MIT, hahaha

  • Max

    It’s going dooooown…

  • Cortez Mack

    “this team was now Dwight Howard’s team, and Dwight Howard doesn’t like playing basketball.”

    This was a very keen insight.

    I was in college at practice looking at our players “dial it in”, as par for the course most nights, when it dawned on me that a large number of big guys do not really “love” playing basketball. They have either been guided to play or have self discovered that they can get some benefit, either personal accolades or material possession, if they play.

  • Max

    Good things come to those who wait.

  • Caboose

    So is Westbrook.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    So you want them to just say, “we are a business, having Kobe this high is better for it” ….? Come on man, this is the point where you just nod and move on, don’t play dumb just because you are right.

  • Caboose

    Sigh, yeah.

  • Elliot

    Yep it’s been discussed previously but that won’t stop people you misery

  • Elliot

    Yes I agree with you but it won’t stop people

  • Najee Fareed

    wasup fig-man

  • Najee Fareed

    too bad my boy could not have lasted longer…

  • The Seed

    Player of the last decade, still one 2 rings during this decade. Man, Kobe still doing it.

  • Debra Stephen

    My Uncle Lincoln just got a new yellow Subaru BRZ Coupe by
    working parttime off of a macbook air… find more w­w­w.P­o­w­6.c­o­m

  • danpowers

    you mean like melo tomorrow? lol

  • Conor

    This.

  • BugEyes

    Wha this # mean?

  • BugEyes

    What’sthis # mean

  • smoinpour

    Great article!!

  • AddingVelocityDontTellMe

    interesting

  • Sergio

    Amazing writing. Also, Harden should not be top 5 at fucking all. This is pathetic.

  • Ariel Rosenfeld

    Did you rank him top 10 so that you wouldn’t get an angry tweet??

  • AddingVelocityDontTellMe

    A kanye west reference.

    The poets of our generation reflect the public.
    It’s like mankind gets dumber as we more rely on technology and science and completely abandon what makes us human. LANGUAGE.

    Notice how poorly i speak. i can understand a complex scientific concept reduce but cannot convey it what’s the utility of that discovery. Money skew science. Max leave NASA and focus on linguistic pursuit then study ancient documents.

    Name 5 most influential books in human history.

  • DDDD

    Kobe should be in top 5.. No age is required!
    1.Lebron
    2.Durant
    3.Kobe
    4.Melo
    5.CP3

  • AddingVelocityDontTellMe

    Najee Fareed. how many times have you been back to somalia? and how much has the nba spread to the neighboring regions

  • AddingVelocityDontTellMe

    Melo is a scorer but how he has greater impact on the game then rose surprises me.

  • AddingVelocityDontTellMe

    1. Lebron
    2. Durant
    3. CP3- he’s like mayweather too technical when he plays at his best he can break down any defense. But he has the wrong body for his mind. Put CP3′s mind in rajon rondo and you got the greatest Point Guard to ever play.
    4. Harden
    5. Howard.

  • Max

    lol whut haha.

  • Max

    I knew something like that was comming haha.

  • AddingVelocityDontTellMe

    you reference that line from kanye?

    name top 5 most influential books in human history

  • spit hot fiyah

    haha i know, they kept dodging it though. i just wanted an explanation.

  • AddingVelocityDontTellMe

    that’s an awesome avatar. did you like endless waltz gundam wing.

  • Caboose

    (Excluding books like the Bible, Quran, etc)
    Iliad/Odyssey, Homer (foundations of poetry, fiction, epics, and spreading of literature)
    Republic, Plato (foundation of political science, philosophy, and scientific inquiry)
    Divine Comedy, Dante (modern religion is shaped by this piece arguably more than the Bible)
    Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes (structure of the modern novel)
    Origin of Species, Charles Darwin (spurred advancement in the scientific era)

  • Caboose

    Lol.

  • Drig

    Yup.

  • Max

    I don’t get the correlation between those 2 things..

  • danpowers

    even as a knicks fan i have to say that this suprises me, too. lets wait for the write up to justify the ranking

  • danpowers

    you threw the lob, i just had to lay it in lol

  • Max

    Niiiice

  • AddingVelocityDontTellMe

    Your well versed in foundational texts for Modern day Western Secular Democratic world.

    You’d be surprised but other civilazations have significant impact ideas that have influenced those works and course of human history

    I thought you would out principia and the canon of medicine in their because of the scientific impacts for so many years. Also the red book had tremendous influence. i should know a financial text that help shape our modern market but unfortunately im not well-versed in that field.

    Where do you think humanity is going?

  • AddingVelocityDontTellMe

    Wait so you didn’t take that line from Kanye when he said something to the effect good things come to those who wait so I’m gonna be an hour late. Cuz in recent news Kanye had a white “Jesus” come to his concert and it got me surprised at how many people really believe the white images of Jesus in churches is really how he looked which is complete fabrication. I think boondocks did great job with the uncle ruckus skit with white Jesus.

    It’s just odd at how easily deceived we are with images and books. But I was curious at how what books have most impact on shaping humanity

  • EJ

    And 64% think he should be higher? I mean that’s just unrealistic.

  • AddingVelocityDontTellMe

    You’d be surprised at how wrong majority opinion can be

  • AddingVelocityDontTellMe

    bro you’d love a youtube channel called conversations with history

  • AddingVelocityDontTellMe

    Christmas a modern innovation in Christianity gift that Kobe will come back by then

  • AddingVelocityDontTellMe

    Christmas an evil origin

  • AddingVelocityDontTellMe

    Armando ooo la la. Depends on the type of jaguar. Not all move on 4 legs. Thanks correcting spelling it’ll be good for the youth. I type so saiyan fast I don’t reflect or inspect what I write.

    Don’t bet gambling is evil. Do you in Los Angeles and attend Hollywood hi

  • Caboose

    Unfortunately, I am not nearly as well versed in eastern literature, so I am aware that my list is western-centric. Perhaps my list would be appropriate if the question was the most influential books on WESTERN history.

    I had it down to the 3 of Principia, Canon of Medicine, and Origin of Species. I ultimately chose the latter because I am a biology/chemistry guy and Darwin pushed so many researchers out of the relative dark ages.

    Other runner ups from my list would be:

    Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels
    Common Sense, Thomas Paine
    Annals, Tacitus
    1984, George Orwell
    Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain

    Again, I recognize the western bias, but as mentioned, I have amended the title of my list haha.

    Where is humanity going? You’re definitely gonna have to clarify that haha.

  • guest

    You see? Dummy.

  • AddingVelocityDontTellMe

    lol if i could clarify that question that in itself would mean i have solved the issue

  • LakeShow

    He was the best player in the League both years he had sh*t talent. (2004-2006).

    Suck it.

  • LakeShow

    That COULD be true, but Kobe could also not come back at all. Ever….

    Silly to make to bold, individual predictions at this point.

  • shutup

    Harden is at 5 so your wrong. An algorithm can’t be illogical, by definition. And sentences should be started with a capital letter, youtube PHD.

    ALGORITHM: A finite set of unambiguous instructions performed in a prescribed sequence to achieve a goal, especially a mathematical rule or procedure used to compute a desired result.

    ILLOGICAL:lacking sense or clear, sound reasoning.

  • Enigmatic

    12256?

  • AddingVelocityDontTellMe

    I’m glad you got the paradox snarf snarf. If there were more technical people like you in the world there’d be less confusion and more clarity.

    If you ever have time late at night watch YouTube fractal videos on a large monitor very closely without music.

  • Harvey

    Yeah, you could say that.

  • Conor

    LakeShow, we take time out of our lives to discuss the prowess of grown men. If that isn’t silly to begin with, what’s the point of this board?

    Having said that, he can either be better or worse, and based on Harden’s noticeable lack of defensive improvement thus far during the preseason, and rested, determined Kobe maintaining his superiority isn’t beyond the realm of logic.

  • Autoconorrect

    *a rested

  • Conor

    Go engross yourself in some more Halo mythology, you twit.

  • http://slamonline.com/ Ben Osborne

    Thank you Ben!

  • Max

    Yeah it was a Kanye line, but I just heard it in the weekend so that’s why.
    I’m not really a fan of his, didn’t even know about that jesus thing haha.

  • RedDragon10

    Espn ranked the Lakers at 12 and ranked Kobe at 25. So, kobe discretely changed his profile pic to 1225 to mirror this fact.

  • AddingVelocityDontTellMe

    oh so you believe Jesus is the that white hippie looking image they portray. Human being is really easily deceived. Look up Bart Erhman the most pop culture biblical scholar to check authencity of the Bible.

  • AddingVelocityDontTellMe

    this is the link from ballislife http://ballislife.com/kanye-west-brings-out-jesus-while-wearing-red-air-yeezy-2s/

    i’m surprised no christian reader has complained about a false portrayal to slam or ballislife.

  • Max

    No I don’t, I didn’t say anything like that..

  • AddingVelocityDontTellMe

    wait so when you said that jesus thing you didn’t mean about the boondocks reference

    i just posted the ballislife link to the kanye thing. It’s disgusting that these false images have been pushed onto people. Do you watch boondocks?

  • Marc Bird

    Well, as here’s hoping he gets the Mike Brown treatment after the Lakers start 4-21

  • Marc Bird

    Youre right, rankings are stupid and don’t matter. It’s a ranking of who’s hot/ popular at the moment, not based on actual talent.

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  • efoibweof

    kobrick

    2000 finals – 36% shooting
    2001 finals – 41.5%shooting
    2004 finals – 38% shooting
    2010 finals – 40% shooting

  • efoibweof

    lol

    KG had a 33 PER in 2004

    and tim duncan/shaq were still the best in 05 not kobe

    he didnt even make All NBA 1st in 05 Allen Iverson the best SG in the game did

  • efoibweof

    btw slam

    best SG in 2000 – vince
    best SG in 2001 – AI
    best SG in 2002 – kobe
    best SG in 2003 – Tmac
    best SG in 2004 – Tmac
    best SG in 2005 – AI
    best SG in 2006 – kobe
    best SG in 2007 – kobe
    best SG in 2008 – kobe
    best SG in 2009 – wade
    best SG in 2010 – kobe

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  • LakeShow

    you win

  • efoibweof

    yes…yes i do lol

  • LakeShow

    Seriously you’re right.

    I can admit when i’m wrong.

    That’s what men do.

  • origanal student of the game

    KOBE BRYANT 5RINGS #1,TIM DUNCAN #4 rings,TOP 50,#1 and #2 untill they retire.

  • origanal student of the game

    Put the players back in the game.

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