Kobe Bryant Reaches Milestone: Is He the Best Los Angeles Laker of All Time?

Joe Pepe@jpep20Contributor IFebruary 7, 2012

Is Kobe The Greatest?
Is Kobe The Greatest?Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Kobe Bryant and the Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics in 2010, for Bryant's fifth NBA Finals ring. He was then quoted as saying, "I got one more then Shaq." Well now Kobe has another feat to hang over Shaq's head.

Last night the Los Angeles Lakers rolled into Philadelphia to play the Sixers. The main subject on everyone mind wasn't if Kobe Bryant would pass Shaq on the all-time scoring record list, but what time in the game it would happen?

There wasn't one fan inside the Wells Fargo Center, or watching the game on TV, who thought Kobe would accomplish it in grand fashion like he did.

Kobe from the opening tip-off played the game like a man possessed, living up to his Black Mamba nickname. He was unstoppable and surpassed Shaq with 5:07 left in the second quarter!

Kobe finished with 28 points, in a losing effort to the new and improved 76ers. After the game Bryant had this to say about his record.

"To say it's a huge honor would be an understatement, it's a lot of basketball. I've been very, very fortunate to have such a good career."

Shaq, however, made a bigger statement by saying "Kobe is the greatest Laker of all time."

The question on everyone mind is whether Kobe is really the greatest. The Lakers have had many stars: Magic Johnson, Shaq, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Jerry West—who for the younger folks, is the NBA logo. The only player who can rival Kobe in this argument is Magic Johnson.

Kobe has five rings, Magic has five as well. So to the naked eye they look evenly matched on rings. Both players had a dominant big man on their team: Kobe had Shaq, and Magic had Kareem. However, Kobe won a few titles without Shaq, while Magic never won without Kareem on the roster. This is one advantage for Bryant.

The next category that must be looked at is which teams did each player beat for his title. Advantage here goes to Magic, who played against much more talented teams in his Finals trips than Kobe ever had to.

Magic had his runs against Larry Bird's Celtics squads, while Kobe has won titles against the Orlando Magic, the New Jersey Nets and the Philadelphia 76ers. Now they weren't terrible teams, but those teams could never compare to the Boston Celtics of past.

The final category to me is personality and public view. Johnson was a great man, and when he contracted HIV, he became active on the path to informing the public about it.

Kobe had a very different path to stardom. He has always been more of a "Alpha Male" type player. He is always very dominant on the court and willing to put the dagger in his opponent's back. However, off the court he has had his issues, including the sexual assault case in 2003.

Analysts will forever see both of these players as some of the greatest in history. They are easily top five NBA players.

The only difference is that Magic is always talked about as a team player, and even though he was an amazing talent, he could be rivaled by Bird and Michael Jordan.

However, Bryant has been regarded as the best player in the NBA for a good amount of years now, and when the argument of who the next Jordan is comes up, the name that comes out the most is Bryant.

Both of these players are amazing talents that grew up in the Lakers organization. As for the moment, you can make an argument for either player to be the top Laker. However, if Kobe wins his sixth ring this year, the argument is over. Bryant will be the best Los Angeles Laker ever.