I am having problems with many other NBA fans that I talk to in regards to who the best player in the NBA is. To me the answer to that question, and it comes as an automatic response, is Kobe Bryant. This has nothing to do with the recent 40 point scoring outbursts that he has been accomplishing at age 33 and with a sore wrist. This has more to do with his body of work, accomplishments, and most of all that "killer instinct" that he possesses. These attributes to me, make Kobe the consensus, hands down best player currently in the NBA. Yet, lately, when the conversation of who the best player in the NBA is comes up, it seems like that is not the case and it really disturbs me. In fact, ESPN recently launched a poll ranking the players in the NBA and Kobe was seventh on that list. Seventh best player in the league? To me that is just disrespectful to Kobe. Even more disturbing is that people seem to rank LeBron James ahead of him. That just makes no sense to me and brings up the notion that Kobe, may in fact be underrated.
For starters, here is a list of some of Kobe Bryant's accomplishments:
5 time NBA Champion(2000, 2001, 2002, 2009, 2010)
2 time Finals MVP (2009, 2010)
2 time Scoring Champ (2006, 2007)
NBA MVP (2008)
13 All Star Apperances
4 time All-Star Game MVP (2002, 2007, 2009, 2011) record tying*
2008 Olympic Gold Medal winner
13 All NBA selections (9 times All-NBA first team)
11 All NBA defensive team selections (record tying 9 first team selections)
Second all time in history for points in a single game (81 points)
Sixth, currently, on NBA all time scoring list and climbing (Has opportunity to become #1)
These are the obvious career highlights that make Kobe great, however, it goes beyond that. What really separates Kobe from the rest of the pack is his "killer instinct". Kobe has that "it" to his game where even at this stage of his career, he can simply take over a game and seems almost unstoppable. He has to be the most feared player the NBA has seen since Michael Jordan. When he gets that feeling or is given any type of extra motivation, opposing teams in most cases face severe consequences. Kobe has no limitations to his game. He can get to the basket whenever he wants to, has an unstoppable jumpshot with no range (Kobe does have the record for 3 pointers made in a game with 12), great free throw shooter, excellent defender, and most importantly he comes up big in the clutch. He is known as the best closer for a reason and is probably right up there with MJ as far as closing out games. He could be having the worst shooting game ever, yet, when the game starts ticking down, that "killer instinct" kicks in and when that happens there is almost no hope for opposing teams. He gets into zones which most basketball players never experience and it is just unbelievable to watch. I'm sure everyone remembers the 81 point game, which was unbelievable to accomplish in the NBA in this era, but there were so many moments in addition to that where it seemed that Kobe wasn't even an earthly being as far as what he does on a basketball court. In addition to that, Kobe gets better as the stakes get higher. He is no doubt, one of the best Playoff and NBA Finals performers in the history of the game. His competitive fire just burns and burns regardless of how much he accomplishes. He still works harder than most even when he is at the top and never resorts to being content. That is simply admirable and puts him in a class that very few players are in. While there are many great players in the NBA currently, none have proven to be in that class.
When the topic of who the best player in the NBA is, it seems like most people list LeBron James as #1. This drives me wild. LeBron is a great player and is one of the most gifted athletes in all of sports. There is no doubt that he can do so many things on the court that most human beings could never dream of doing. However, we are talking about a player that has never won a championship (lost twice in the finals) and is becoming known for disappearing in the clutch. How can a player that struggles to close out games be considered the best player in the league? LeBron has not shown that he has that unique "killer instinct" trait and has a lot more to prove before he can even be considered for that crown. I do not even believe that he is even the best player on his own team (Dwayne Wade holds that title) let alone best player in the league. I do not want to turn this into a LeBron bashing, otherwise I could go on and on. The point I am trying to make is that NBA fans need to be more informed and understand what it takes to be the best before they put any player ahead of Kobe Bryant. I hate the fact that this even needs to be pointed out because when Michael Jordan played there was never a question whether he was the best player in the league . I believe that Kobe Bryant has earned that status. Not only that, it also makes the nickname "Black Mamba" (the most deadly snake in the world) most appropriate for Kobe. This is Kobe's league until somebody takes it from him. What is scary is that, due to his great conditioning, he probably still has 4 or 5 good years left in him to add to his already amazing resume.
NBA fans are obviously free to have their own opinions. However, when considering who the best player in the NBA is; it is a fact that Kobe Bryant has a stranglehold on that title. I will go a step further by saying that he is not only the best player in the NBA today but he is second all time behind only the great Michael Jordan. No disrespect to Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Oscar Robertson, Hakeen Olajuwon or any other former players. But Kobe's greatness on the basketball court has put him ahead of everybody except Jordan. In fact when his illustrious career is over, he might be the only player who can ever even threaten Michael Jordan's status as the greatest of all-time. For me as a basketball fan, it has been an honor to say I was able to follow the careers of both players.
In closing, to everybody out there, make no mistake Kobe Bryant is the best player in the NBA. Period.