Kobe shows he’s still “Kobe”



After consecutive sub-15 point scoring nights by Kobe Bryant, a.k.a. the Black Mamba, in games four and five against the Thunder, NBA pundits were beginning to question if Kobe still had it. No critic was bigger than Charles Barkley, who said, “Kobe Bryant is on the downside of his career. The nights where he goes out and scores 30 or 40 points are O-V-E-R.”

Kobe responded by scoring over 30 points in the each of his next seven games, including 40 points in game one against the Suns. Deron Williams admitted, after the Jazz were swept by the Lake Show, that the last thing you want to do is piss off Kobe.

By Justin Mertes-Mistretta

Maybe you should just stick to gambling Charles. Oh wait… That’s probably not going to go well for you either after you put so much faith in the Cavs.

“I think the Cleveland Cavaliers are the best team in the playoffs,” said Barkley. “They have the best basketball player in the world in LeBron James, so I think they will go all the way.” Just stick to eating Chuck, that’s one thing you’re clearly good at.

Barkley has been adamant about his belief that LeBron is better than Kobe. He is not the only one, as Bron Bron has been named the MVP two seasons in a row. To me, it’s not even close. Kobe is far and away the better player and there is just simply no debate. At least it’s not a debate I’m going to have. It would be too easy for me to pick Kobe over LBJ right now with everything that has happened in the playoffs. I’ll let the media handle that one.

A debate that I think is more valid, that I think people are scared to talk about, is the Michael Jordan comparison. WHAT did he just say?!

Okay, let’s get one thing straight, Kobe is not better than MJ and I don’t think he ever will be. However, to say that he should not even be compared to MJ is absurd. People need to stop being prisoners of the media and look at Kobe as a basketball player. Stop loving to hate the guy for a second.

You have to admit that Kobe’s whole demeanor is eerily similar to Jordan’s. Everything from the way he talks to the way he fades away for a game-winning shot.

The intangible qualities, mainly the will to win, are what separate Kobe from LeBron, but parallels Kobe to Jordan. The competitive nature of Jordan was so great that he would have sacrificed himself to win a game of checkers. Whenever people questioned his ability to perform, he would take it upon himself to prove them wrong. Take, for instance, the “Flu Game,” when he scored 38 points and the game-winning shot to beat the Jazz in game five of the ‘97 finals. What about when people thought he wouldn’t be the same upon returning to the league after taking a year off. Well three consecutive championships later he proved them wrong, again.


Kobe has gone through similar scrutiny, being called “too old” and too banged up to perform at the highest level. He has proven all season-long and throughout the playoffs that this is simply not true. He also has had to constantly prove that he can win without Shaq. He proved his doubters wrong by winning the championship last year without Shaq, but the media still focused on the fact that Kobe has never won a championship without a good team. That is a true, but has anyone?

You’re going to tell me that the Bulls weren’t good when MJ won six championships? Or Magic didn’t have a good team with the Lakers? The fact is that no single player, not even Jordan, can win it all without a team around them. Every Batman needs his Robin. Magic’s sidekick was Kareem, Jordan’s was Pippen and Kobe’s was Shaq and now Gasol. We shouldn’t discredit Kobe’s greatness because he wasn’t able to win a championship right after Shaq left. His team from 2004-2007 (the only years Kobe didn’t reach at least the finals without Shaq) was almost embarrassing to call a team. Half of the players on the rosters aren’t even in basketball anymore.

I mean how successful can you be when your second best player’s name is Smush?

Look, when you score 81 points in a single game (something Jordan has never done) and you win four championships by age 31 (Jordan “only” had three at the same age), the comparisons to the G.O.A.T. are not irrational.

In an interview comparing Jordan and Kobe, Phil Jackson admitted that there are some things Kobe does better than Jordan. He went as far as to say Kobe has a better skill set and that he is probably a better outside shooter. Again, I will never agree that Kobe does anything “better” than Michael, but the point is that if the Zen Master, who coached both players, compares the two, then why can’t we?

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