SLAMonline Top 50: Kobe Bryant, no. 1

by October 27, 2008

by Farmer Jones / @thefarmerjones

So: Is he? Is Kobe Bryant, right now, the best basketball player alive?


He is, without question, a very good basketball player. He is tall. He runs fast, and he SLAMonline Top 50: Kobe Bryant, no. 1jumps high. He makes a lot of baskets, and he possesses a “high basketball IQ.” Among the rest of the basketball players playing basketball in the NBA today, his “skill set” is arguably unsurpassed. He does, in other words, most of the things involved in playing basketball better than do most other basketball players. No. 1 seems about right.

Who might be better? Probably no one. There are only a handful of basketball players in the “who’s the best basketball player” conversation, and arguably only one in legitimate contention, but the case for that basketball player has had numerous holes poked in it. A lot of those pokes have been valid. So, maybe consensus is easily reached: There is no basketball player who is clearly better at playing basketball than is Kobe Bryant.

Ergo, Kobe Bryant is the best basketball player.

And yet.

A rehashing of Kobe Bryant’s myriad and widely documented “issues” would be overkill here. It does seem worth mentioning, however, that Kobe Bryant was rarely the best basketball player on the court during the 2008 NBA Finals, and only very occasionally the best basketball player on his own team during the 2008 Summer Olympics. For someone “widely” considered to be the best basketball player on the planet, these are pretty strong indictments re: his best-basketball-player status.

But, again, when debating the topic of who the best basketball player is, there is no clear-cut “better” option. There is only preference.

As in, Which basketball player would you RATHER have to start a basketball-playing team?

Or, Which basketball player does the most to make their basketball-playing teammates better?

Or, Whose shoes are hotter?

Or, Who seems like less of a dick?

Fair questions all, but they boil down to opinion, not fact. Which is fine.

The world works this way.

So, one more time: Is Kobe Bryant the best basketball player in the NBA today?

Yes. If you think so.

Want more of the SLAMonline Top 50? Check out the archive.