be Bryant was one of the greatest players of all time, he is arguably the greatest Los Angeles Laker of all time, but the one place that Kobe often doesn’t get the credit he deserves is in the GOAT debate. People sometimes don’t even list Kobe in their top 10, which is a bit bizarre considering his resume and the things he achieved during his time in the league. Even Shaq thinks Kobe gets disrespected.
Players that are accepted in the GOAT conversation, Michael Jordan being the primary, followed by the likes of LeBron James, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Magic Johnson, all have certain metrics where Kobe outperformed them. Narratives hampered Kobe during his playing career, the fact that he won just 1 regular-season MVP is proof of that and it seems that they have continued to affect his legacy till today.
For example, Bryant had more points in his career than Michael Jordan. Kobe ended his stellar run in the league with 33,643 points to Michael’s 32,292 points. He beats LeBron in another metric, one that is often the downfall of James’ case as the GOAT. Kobe ended his career with 5 championship rings, while LeBron still only has 4 to his name.
His rebound numbers eclipse Magic Johnson, while his playmaking and assist tallies are greater than another NBA great in Larry Bird. Bryant was great at several things on the court thanks to the one thing that set him apart, his tireless efforts to be better than the people that came before him.
Another factor that is often overlooked is that Kobe won his rings without surrounding himself with All-Stars. While he did have prime Shaquille O’Neal for his first three, they were a duo and not a Big 3 like some of the other dynasties of the past. On top of that, he also beat the Boston Celtics’ superteam in the NBA Finals while being the main man on his Lakers team.
None of this is to say that Bryant was the GOAT or should be regarded as such by everyone. The debate is inherently subjective and some players do have a better case than the Mamba. However, the fact that a lot of people tend to dismiss Kobe entirely in the conversation may be a case of everyone forgetting just how incredible Kobe Bean Bryant was.