Los Angeles Lakers

2010 NBA Finals: Kobe Bryant As Overrated As Ever

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 17:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates in the final moments of the Lakers victory over the Boston Celtics in Game Seven of the 2010 NBA Finals at Staples Center on June 17, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Ben SteigerwaltCorrespondent IJune 18, 2010

Man, am I tired of seeing Kobe Bryant compared to Michael Jordan, and seeing MVP awards given to him for his reputation, rather than his performance.

Let's face it: Kobe's overrated.  Historically so.

To start with, here's Kobe's stat line from last night's NBA Finals Game Seven: 23 points (6-24 FG, 0-6 3-FG), 15 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal and 4 turnovers.

Jordan would never, ever have dropped that kind of nuclear stink bomb in a Game Seven, that's assuming the Best Ever would have allowed a Finals series to get to a Game Seven (he didn’t), or lose a Finals (he didn’t).

He also never missed the playoffs with the Chicago Bulls (I’m ignoring his time with the Wizards). 

Bryant, on the other hand, missed the playoffs in his prime (the 2004-2005 season), one of only two times in the last 34 years the Los Angeles Lakers have missed the playoffs as a team. He has lost two NBA Finals opportunities. 

As he pointed out, he’s won one more championship than Shaquille O’Neal.  Which would be impressive if Shaquille O’Neal weren’t fat and lazy.

He also has one championship less than Scottie Pippen.  Well, I suppose you could argue that Pippen had help, but the point needed to be made.

Perhaps you’ve been awed by Bryant’s past playoff performance? 

Let’s compare his playoff numbers against Jordan’s and, for a similar player type (albeit smaller and different position), Allen Iverson (courtesy of www.basketball-reference.com ):

Michael Jordan: 33.4 PPG (48.7% FG), 6.4 RPG, 5.7 APG

Kobe Bryant: 25.5 PPG (44.8% FG), 5.2 RPG, 4.8 APG

Allen Iverson: 29.7 PPG (40.1% FG), 3.8 RPG, 6.0 APG

That’s right, someone who is in the conversation for greatest of all-time has scored four points-per-game less in the playoffs than Allen Iverson. 

For the purposes of context, Iverson has also played more than a hundred playoff games less than Bryant.  But do we really think that his points would be the number that came down with more games?

So together, let’s scale back the talk about how the Black Mamba is the greatest ever. 

If someone isn’t the clear best player in his team’s history (and I don’t care how great his team’s history is), we have to agree that it’s really tough to argue that he’s the best player in league history.

Speaking of which, what’s LeBron up to these days?

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