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Scott Howard-Cooper

It's hard not to place Kobe Bryant and his undeniable talent among the 10 greatest players.
It's hard not to place Kobe Bryant and his undeniable talent among the 10 greatest players.
Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

Kobe not in top 10, remembering Petrovic and Magic's move


Posted Oct 21 2010 7:09PM

• Seriously? Kobe Bryant not in the top 10 of greatest players ever? Michael Jordan sparked the conversation, Sekou Smith advanced it from Hang Time HQ -- sorry: my main man Sekou Smith -- and suddenly there's a debate where none should exist. Hate the Lakers, dislike Kobe because of past actions, but respect the undeniable accomplishments. Lethal offense, constrictive defense, great in the clutch, nonstop competitor, a jewelry store full of rings and much improved in the locker room. Yet 35 percent of the votes on the HT poll don't put Bryant in the top 10. C'mon.

1. M.J.. 2. Wilt. 3. Russell. 4. Larry. 5. Oscar. 6. Kobe. 7. Magic. 8. Kareem. 9. Shaq. 10. West. With the expected inner-second guessing already beginning. Really tough to leave off Cousy and Elgin in particular. Next in line, in some order: Cooz and Baylor, Hakeem, Duncan, Stockton, Mailman.

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• Want to deduct points from Bryant for being a bad teammate early on, or even late on? Good thing Jordan was Mr. Warm Fuzzies in the Bulls locker room, huh.

• Beyond the pressing implication of the major blow to Purdue's national-title hopes, Robbie Hummel tearing the same anterior cruciate ligament in the same right knee for the second time in eight months alters the early line on the 2011 Draft. He goes from first-round candidate, depending how a senior season in the spotlight went, to the possibility of not being picked at all. One general manager said there is a "100-percent chance" Hummel does not get drafted. It becomes temporarily moot if he follows through on the plan to stay for a fifth season as a grad student, but the Boilermakers forward will still have everything to prove to the pros.

• The opinion stands. Kings-Lakers in Game 7 of the 2002 Western Conference finals was the Favorite Game as part of the NBA.com series. But it brings the screamers out from behind the grassy knoll. So once and for all (yeah, right): The Kings shot 204 free throws in the series and the Lakers 185 despite L.A. focusing much more of its offense inside, the Kings had a huge blown call go in their favor to win Game 5, and Bob Delaney, one of the refs in the mangled Game 6, was a former New Jersey state trooper who once went undercover to infiltrate organized crime. He's going to risk his life to fight the mob but hand over his integrity to roll over for David Stern?

• The Suns are thinking about joining the arena nostalgia movement by playing an exhibition game at old Memorial Coliseum as soon as next preseason, if there is a next preseason. The Trail Blazers have made the throwback location an annual event next door to the Rose Garden and the Lakers went back to Inglewood last year for a Forum game.

• The ESPN documentary on the friendship between Drazen Petrovic and Vlade Divac torn apart by the war in the former Yugoslavia was a typically excellent installment in the network's "30 For 30" series, but any chance to remember Petrovic is a good thing. Especially now -- Friday is his 46th birthday. The Nets scoring star was killed in a 1993 car crash in Germany, a loss that still resonates to the NBA people who knew him and came to understand his rock-star popularity in Europe. "I don't know if there's anybody that loved the game more than Drazen," his former Trail Blazers teammate Wayne Cooper told me in 2008. Big statement.

No way Magic Johnson cashed out of the Lakers and Starbucks in quick succession to bankroll a bid to get the NFL back in Los Angeles. He's a huge football fan, but people with more money and a lot more political muscle have tried and failed. Besides, resolving the eternal stadium headache in the region and whether to pirate an existing franchise or go the expansion route is far in the distance, not the kind of play that requires quick nine-figure funding. He will consider a lot of possibilities, not just Sunday ball.

• The supposed price tag for Johnson's share of the Lakers is a lot of bad guess work, by the way. Taking Forbes' estimated value of the franchise and doing the math on the approximately five percent he sold oversimplifies the process because it's not hard to find people in sports who claim the Forbes numbers are routinely wrong. The magazine has credibility, and if nothing else provides a good comparison by applying the same standards to every club, but it doesn't see the books. And unless he is desperate for money, Magic Johnson is not going to sell his Lakers ticket at face value.

Scott Howard-Cooper has covered the NBA since 1988. You can e-mail him here and follow him on twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

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