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[MadMax mention] Kobe's legacy nearly complete

Discussion in 'NBA Dish' started by Luckyazn, Jun 4, 2010.

  1. Luckyazn

    Luckyazn Contributing Member

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    The list is narrowing these days.

    After spending the last two decades becoming basketball's version of Showtime's "Dexter," hunting down the successes of players past and present and suffocating their accomplishments with his own unyielding will to show off the skills he was bestowed with, Kobe Bryant is running out of victims.

    An NBA Finals win for the Los Angeles Lakers against their bitter rivals, the Boston Celtics, would give Bryant five championships for his career and slice down even further the number of names that lie ahead of him in the pantheon of greats.

    He's spent a lifetime using his competitive fire to pass those who stood in his way. But rather than veer into the fast lane to avoid them, he's always preferred to just run them off the road.

    It started early. When he was just 11 years old in Italy, he famously challenged Brian Shaw, who was playing overseas at the time, to a game of H-O-R-S-E -- and to this day claims he beat Shaw.

    When Bryant and his family moved back to the United States a few years later, he had a new demographic to establish his dominance over. He'd become the best high school player in Philadelphia.

    Donnie Carr was up first.

    Carr was playing for Roman Catholic in Philadelphia's vaunted Catholic League. Bryant was playing for Lower Merion in the Central League, out in the suburbs. Carr outscored Bryant 34-30 when the two matched up in high school, Carr's team winning by six.

    Carr won the battle, but Bryant won the war, moving on to to stiffer competition when John Lucas, then the coach of the Philadelphia 76ers, recognized his talents and invited him to start working out with his players.

    This story of domination began in the suburbs of Philadelphia.
    "People used to get mad at me in Philly," Lucas recalled. "I'd say, 'Donnie Carr is a good player, but he's not on the same level as Kobe Bryant.'"

    Bryant moved on from Carr and set his sights on becoming the best player in the city. Period. Prep or pro.

    "Kobe's mindset was that of a fierce competitor," Lucas said. "I tell people all the time, when Vernon Maxwell was playing [for the Sixers], he was 'Mad Max' at the time; he [Kobe] and Mad Max almost got in a fight arguing over a 9-9 point in a pickup game. He was junior year in high school then."

    Maxwell was 29 years old at the time, an eight-year NBA veteran with two championship rings from his days playing with the Houston Rockets. Bryant was only 16, barely half Maxwell's age, but of course wasn't willing to concede the point in a pickup game.

    When you conquer a city, you move on to something bigger. Say, a country. Bryant would have to become the best high school player in America.

    "I remember I had a really powerful conversation with Kobe," said Gregg Downer, Bryant's coach at Lower Merion High School. "I said: Maybe you're amongst 100 people -- you want to shave that to 50, you want to shave that to 25, and ultimately it was our goal when he was in high school to shave it all the way to No. 1."

    Bryant became a McDonald's All-American and has made mockeries of the careers of some of his fellow honored prep stars of the past like Tim Thomas, Loren Woods and Corey Benjamin.

    Think about how many separate societies Bryant has risen to the top of in his time. Think about how many classifications he's conquered.

    Best player in his family? His mother Pam's brother, John "Chubby" Cox, played just seven games with Washington in 1982, scoring just 29 total points for his career. Kobe has scored 30 points in a single quarter. Twice. Kobe's father, Joe "Jellybean" Bryant, enjoyed modest NBA success (career averages of 8.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.7 assists) with Philadelphia, San Diego and Houston before playing professionally in Europe. But those numbers pale in comparison to Bryant's 25.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.7 assists for his career.

    The immediate goal for Kobe Bryant is getting his thumb sized for a championship ring.
    Best guard on the Lakers? It didn't take very long for the franchise's focus to shift from Nick Van Exel and Eddie Jones in the backcourt to Bryant after he arrived in L.A. in 1996.

    Best player on the Lakers? When owner Jerry Buss decided to keep Kobe and ship out Shaquille O'Neal in 2004, that title became solidified.

    Best Lakers player of all time? Bryant passed Jerry West to become the franchise's all-time leading scorer this season and can tie Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Cooper in rings (all three won one for the thumb). Bryant has a chance to win back-to-back championships with seven years of holding down the franchise almost single-handedly in between them.

    Best wing player of his era? He left Grant Hill, Tracy McGrady and Vince Carter in his dust.

    Best player of the heralded 1996 draft? Allen Iverson is retired, whether he'll admit to it or not. Stephon Marbury is in China. Shareef Abdur-Rahim is coaching. Antoine Walker is broke. Steve Nash, Ray Allen, Marcus Camby, Jermaine O'Neal and Peja Stojakovic are still playing, but combined have just one ring between them, Allen's from the 2008 Finals.

    Best scorer of his time? Iverson and McGrady didn't have nearly the same longevity Bryant has had, and their career high games were 60 and 62, or 75 percent as impressive as Bryant's 81.

    Best player at any position of his era? Would you take O'Neal or Tim Duncan or Kevin Garnett over him if you had to win one game?

    Better than all the so-called Kobe stoppers? Please. Where are Ruben Patterson, Raja Bell, Doug Christie, Chris Childs and Bruce Bowen these days?

    Better than his up-and-coming contemporaries? LeBron James has played seven years and has two MVPs but just one Finals appearance and no titles. Dwyane Wade has one ring but hasn't gotten out of the first round since then. Carmelo Anthony hasn't even been to the Finals. This is Bryant's seventh trip in 14 years, meaning he plays for the title about as often as a new Harry Potter movie comes out.

    "I think Kobe has already kind of solidified his own legacy," Garnett said Wednesday, a day before Game 1 of the Finals. "Obviously, he's trying to add on to it, the rest of us are trying to do the same, but for him himself, I think he's already solidified, to be honest."

    And yet if Bryant felt solidified, satisfied, then complacency should be creeping in. Not Bryant. Teammate Josh Powell said he would meet Bryant at the gym last offseason, sometimes as early as 4 or 5 in the morning, to prepare for another title run.

    "With a guy like that, it's just amazing," Powell said. "The competitiveness, his energy level, he just has a mentality to kill, so to speak."

    Bryant was asked about his drive to be known as the best player in the league this weekend and said, "I don't care," but ask anybody else who knows him, they'll tell you that answer is about as genuine as one of the exaggerated pump fakes he uses to free up space to fire a jumper.

    "I know one thing about him," Powell said. "He wants to be better. He wants to be the greatest, hands down."

    Shannon Brown, who grew up watching Phil Jackson coach Michael Jordan for his hometown Chicago Bulls, is now observing greatness next to him in the huddle rather than just through his TV screen.

    "Being able to actually play with Kob, I can see that he wants all of it," Brown said. "He wants that, plus more. He wants a statue outside. He wants everyone to remember him as a tenacious killer, a person that stepped out onto the court and took no prisoners."

    While his new teammates know his killing mentality, those who have been around him even longer, Derek Fisher and Jackson, know the premeditated nature of his annihilation existence.

    "I never saw the plan," said Fisher, who came into rookie camp with Bryant before he had any of the 12 All-Star appearances, 12 All-NBA teams or 10 All-Defensive teams. "I don't know if it's on paper anywhere or in a safe in the house, but it's just something I picked up on. I can't even say that it was from a direct conversation. It's just a feeling that I had and have ... that he has for a very long time seen his abilities and the things he's capable of doing as a way and an opportunity to be the best player to ever play the game. One of them, at least."

    Said Jackson: "He devotes so much of his life to this game. It really does take an inordinate amount of time in his daily life; it's not a pastime to him. This is a devotion, not just an avocation. When you do that, when you throw yourself as deeply into it as he does, all those things count a little more.

    "I think he wants to be recognized as the best player in the game. I think he wants to show, he knows it's ephemeral, that this does not last."

    When it's all said and done, there may be room at the top of the totem pole for Kobe Bryant.
    Legacy lasts.

    Nobody remembers who finished second, but come in first enough times and you become unforgettable.

    Only a few remain in front of Bryant. He's caught up with many more: Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Oscar Robertson, Larry Bird, Magic, Kareem, Julius Erving; Bryant's name now belongs alongside them in every conversation about the greatest basketball player of all time. That's what Kobe Bryant's playing for now.

    Although he wouldn't mind leapfrogging all of them to make the top of the totem pole a tag team.

    "I think he's kind of privately tracking Jordan's six championships and all of the challenges to kind of get in that top discussion," Downer said, letting the cat out of the bag.

    Without any prompt, Paul Pierce put Jordan and Bryant in the same breath Wednesday.

    "Once you master the mental part of the game, you become a master of the game of basketball," Pierce said. "There's only been one master in basketball ever, and that's Michael Jordan, but Kobe is pretty close."

    Lucas arranged for the master to meet his apprentice, back when Carr and all the rest of them had yet to be crossed off Bryant's list.

    "I'll never forget I introduced him to Michael, and he called him 'Mr. Jordan,'" Lucas said. "After Michael left, I told [Kobe] -- I teased him, I said, 'If you're going to come into the league next year, he better be 'Mike.'"

    As for Kobe? Call him ruthless. Call him driven. Call him the conqueror

    [​IMG]

    link
     
    #1 Luckyazn, Jun 4, 2010
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2010
  2. Steve_Francis_rules

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    It's too bad the fight with Maxwell didn't happen. Kobe would have been destroyed and would never have set foot on an NBA court.
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. pmac

    pmac Contributing Member

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    hahaha.......exactly what I was thinking
     
  4. Dave_78

    Dave_78 Member

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    I have to agree especially when you consider that Bryant is 0-2 in NBA fights against such badasses as Reggie Miller and Chris Childs.
     
  5. GRENDEL

    GRENDEL Contributing Member

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    Tinman is getting slow on finding these stories......need to get your game back man! ;)
     
  6. vinsensual

    vinsensual Member

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    I wish I could have been there
    to hand Vernon a dumbbell.
     
  7. tinman

    tinman Contributing Member
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    I'm getting old! :)

    Kobe is lucky that Maxwell was so nice to him! :p
     
  8. DieHard Rocket

    DieHard Rocket Contributing Member

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    I've grown to really appreciate Kobe's game over the last couple of years (when he's not playing the Rockets). I remember despising Jordan during his great years because they got so much media attention that it was annoying, but watching old highlights of him makes you realize how great he was to watch. So now I try to appreciate greatness a little more and ignore some of the arrogance in personalities.

    A great example was last night- Kobe hit a tough floater over Perkins, then had that block and save on the other end. The crowd going nuts. Kobe comes out on the break, and where most players might have forced a low percentage three as a "heat check", Kobe passed it around until they found a good shot.

    /end Kobe love

    I hope Battier takes one of his eyes out next time we play them.
     
  9. Rocketman95

    Rocketman95 Hangout Boy

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    i wish he wasn't such a jackass. he's going to end up in the convo for best of all-time.
     
  10. daeyeth

    daeyeth Member

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    Good article. It annoys me when ppl say LeBron James (or even Kevin Durant nowadays) is the best player in the NBA. They just don't have the finesse Kobe has. I'd watch a 50 point game from Kobe over LeBron because you know Kobe is gonna pull some incredible shots out of no where, whereas LeBron is all drive and jab stab-spot-up shot.

    And I'd say Kobe is waaaay better than he was 3+ years ago. He has lost a step but gained so much basketball intelligence and finesse, which makes him even better than the lost step of athleticism. I watched the last finals with Shaq and Kobe the other day and I was amazed at how reckless he was back then, he reminded me of Vince Carter. But now, he's a symbol of brutal efficiency.

    I can't hate. I just can't. I'm watching someone who is one of the greatest players of all time. How can I?
     
  11. Rocket River

    Rocket River Member

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    I agree.
    When I look at Vince Carter - folx talk about he been hampered by injury
    but
    he does not seem to have attempted to add ANYTHING to his game
    to alleiviate that


    Rocket River
     
  12. T.Mcgrady

    T.Mcgrady Member

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    Lol - Carter had no jumpshot and no handles entering the league.

    Injuries definitely resulted in his decline.
     
  13. tinman

    tinman Contributing Member
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    Dunk contest led to his overrated status and hype.
     
  14. npz

    npz Member

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    Lol at too bad he didn't beat up a 16 yr old.
     
  15. BiGGieStuFF

    BiGGieStuFF Contributing Member

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    It's easy not to like Kobe with his arrogant attitude and the things he has done but it's also hard not to like his game. The kid is damn good and one of the few players that makes me go WOW. He had a fantastic all around game last night. I look forward to him doing more great things in this series. WITH THAT SAID. I hope he slips and falls on his own elbow the next time he plays against the Rockets. :mad:
     
  16. Steve_Francis_rules

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    Even at 16, Kobe was undoubtedly an arrogant b*stard who would have deserved it.
     
  17. midnight

    midnight Member

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    [​IMG]
     
    3 people like this.
  18. da_juice

    da_juice Member

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    Good thing Kobe didn't mention his daughter
     
  19. DaGreatest

    DaGreatest Member

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    yea i i love to hate him and the fakers but dam i gota respect his game hes def one of the greatest ever.. ill go ahead and say he's 2nd best ever behind his airness
     
  20. daywalker02

    daywalker02 Member

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    priceless....good work
    lmao
     

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