Kobe Bryant: Just Getting Started?

by June 20, 2010

by Tzvi Twersky

Ever since Thursday night, pundits (and sons) have been weighing in on Kobe Bryant’s legacy. Namely: Is Bryant anywhere near as good as Jordan? Some say yes, the overwhelmingly majority say no.

As for me, I’ll evaluate Kobe’s GOAT claim once he hangs up his Nikes. What I can tell you know, though, is this: Kobe Bryant is the greatest player of his generation, and, based on his postseason play and his strong supporting cast, he’s not done accumulating stats or Title just yet (unless his injuries are worse than we know).

As Marc Heisler of the L.A. Times writes:

Bryant’s fifth title may not be his last, but it’s one more than Shaquille O’Neal or Tim Duncan has won.

Shaq’s 38. Timmy’s 34. Kobe is the one who’s soon to be 32, on a team poised to challenge for more titles, assuming they recover from this one.

Andrew Bynum is already set for knee surgery. We don’t even know how many operations Kobe will need for his knee, finger and other injured body parts we didn’t know about.

Still, with successful procedures and the wisdom not to try to play seven months with a broken finger again, Bryant has years to stack ever greater accomplishments atop each other.

If you haven’t heard, he and his five titles are now in the “conversation” with Michael Jordan, just one ahead of him at six.

Here’s what you can say: Whatever state Kobe’s public relations are in, this isn’t an act a basketball fan would want to miss.

If you combined MJ with Batman you’d have Kobe.

Jordan was like Rembrandt to Bryant’s Picasso and wouldn’t have even thought of taking one of those fadeway-jackknifing-legs-for-leverage-hand-in-his-face-no-one-can-make-that-I-don’t-believe-it shots Kobe knocks down regularly.

Of course, that’s why Michael shot 49.7% for his career and Kobe’s at 45.5%.

Before Bryant, I can’t remember hearing coaches telling players not to get dismayed when he starts making those incredible shots, one after another, as if in some Layup Line of the Gods.

“I keep telling my guys not to get discouraged, but after a while you have to get discouraged,” the Suns’ Alvin Gentry said during the Western Conference finals.

“I tell you, you have to laugh, because if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry.”

Said Boston’s Doc Rivers in the Finals: “You don’t worry about it. I mean, hell, he’s Kobe Bryant.”

This ride lasts only so long.

Let’s hope we won’t miss Kobe and he won’t miss us.