Many fans across the National Basketball Association (NBA) were stunned in December when future Hall of Famer, Kobe Bryant, announced he was finally calling it quits. Tickets for the Los Angeles Lakers started increasing at a rapid rate, even given their poor record so far this season. Some look at everything the Lakers star has accomplished, combined with his strive for greatness and of course the five championship rings and think: there goes the best player ever. But those who
have been watching number 24 for ten years may think: there goes the most selfish, and egocentric basketball player of all time.
Many may take this opinion as a major jab, with a career as long and storied as Bryant’s there are many valid points that can be made. Bryant is third all-time with 32, 774 points, he is a five-time NBA champion, two-time scoring champion, 17-time NBA All-Star, two-time NBA Finals MVP, and the list can go on for several paragraphs. Many fans list him in the top-20 players of all-time, a list that is filled with names such as Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, and Wilt Chamberlain.
Bryant has always been an inefficient player who seemed to confuse scoring a lot with playing well. In his single greatest season, 2005-2006, Bryant averaged an astonishing 35.4 points per game and dropped an embarrassing 81 points on the hapless Toronto Raptors and shot 45 per cent from the field.
How is it possible that a 17-time All-Star and former MVP has never shot over 50 per cent from the field once, even in 20 seasons? Since the late 90’s analysts and fans have been gushing over Bryant, gloating over how fine-tuned his skills were during his career. But shooting below 50 per cent for someone of his caliber is just not good enough. Bryant’s best shooting year was when he was 23; he shot 46.9 per cent. He never improved his efficiency after that. The following season Bryant shot 38.3 per cent from three-point range, something he would never repeat.
Bryant remained consistent for a mere 15 seasons beginning at age 20 when he finally became a starter for the Lakers. In contrast, there have been seasons like Shaquille O’Neal’s 2000 season, LeBron James’ 2012 season, or even Stephen Curry’s 2015 season that are far more impressive.
Ultimately, Bryant’s best season doesn’t even crack the top-100 list. The best way to look at Bryant’s career is to be modest and say that he was a great, hard-working player. But let’s not all go buy Kobe Bryant jerseys and cherish them until we can hand them off to our children. He’s not that good.