Living the Fantasy: Bursting Bryant's Bubble

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By NBA TV's Rick Kamla

March 30, 2007

Kobe is Great, but Mike is The Greatest Ever.
(Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images)
On the fantasy show this past Tuesday, I ran some stats in the Low Five detailing how far Kobe Bryant has to go just to match Michael Jordan's collection of accomplishments. Let's put it this way, Kobe better bring his climbing gear, because Mike is sitting atop the basketball equivalent of Mt. Everest.

Here's the list of what Kobe needs to do just to tie Mike.

-- Three more rings (6-3).

-- Six Finals MVPs.

-- Five MVPs.

-- Eight more scoring titles (I'm assuming Kobe wins his second this season.)

-- Six more All-NBA First Team honors (I'm assuming Kobe gets his fourth this season.)

-- Five more All-Defensive First Team honors (9-4).

-- One Defensive Player of the Year award.

-- Three steals titles.

-- Raise playoff scoring average from 22.9 (Kobe) to 33.4 (Mike).

I know most of you think Kobe is the best player in the game. And I sincerely hope you came to that opinion before Kobe topped the 50-point barrier four times, because if The Streak is why you think Kobe's the best player in the game today -- or the greatest player of all-time (huh?) -- then you're not only shortsighted, but forgetful and presumptuous as well.

Kobe isn't even the best player in the game today.

That title (and the belt that goes along with winning THE title) belongs to Dwyane Wade, who is getting healthier and stronger and more determined every day. (Yeah Wade! Repeat after me: Miami in June...Miami in June...Miami in June...and pass it on...)

Whether you Kobe homers want to admit it or not, Wade is already on his level, yet Wade is 25 and Kobe's 28. How dominant is Wade going to be when he's 28, at which point his basketball IQ will have caught up with his freakish physical ability and talent?

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Head to Kamla's Korner
Let's put it this way, Wade at 28 is going to be better than Kobe at 28, and I'd say the same about LeBron James. That's no diss to Kobe, who is one of the all-time greats. I'm just saying Wade and LeBron have a chance to become greater. Assuming Wade and LeBron stay in Miami and Cleveland long-term, the rest of the Eastern Conference may have to resign itself to fighting for third place every year.

So if Kobe isn't the best player in the game today, then how can he even be compared to Michael Jordan, as many media members have done this past week?

It blows my mind how pundits--and some of them do know their stuff--can be so swept up in the moment that they forget the simple fact that Mike is the deadliest athlete in the history of sports. Freaks, when Mike went to battle, it was a fight to the death, and the other guy almost always came out dead, with Mike striking the Captain Morgan pose over the corpse.

You can have Babe Ruth and Wilt Chamberlain and Mohammed Ali and Jim Brown and Joe Montana and Gordy "freakin" Howe, just as long as I can have Mike on my side. Because with Mike on my side, I know I'm going to win. It's kinda know, all that winning and all, but you get used to it. It feels good.

Yes, Kobe has a knack for coming up huge in the clutch, no matter how much pressure is on him. He has three rings to prove it. Taken a step farther, Kobe already ranks among the greatest clutch shooters in history. He's also one of the toughest and hardest working players in history. Hey, I'm not a player hater. As a baller, you gotta give Kobe his due. (But to laud Kobe the person, he's gotta calm down on the court and stop trying to decapitate defenders. He's not a dirty player, but he has dirty player tendencies. Happy now, Kobe?)

All that said, Mike was tougher, Mike worked harder, and Mike was more clutch that anyone else--including your boy Kobe.

I've been watching sports like a hawk since the late 70s (I'm 37), and I've been clocking the NBA and NFL professionally since the early 90s. Listen, I have never seen a player will his team to victory like Michael Jordan. I mean, you knew before the game, that if the Bulls had to have it, they would get it because Mike wanted it that way. But even if the Bulls were down, say... seven points with 1:10 to go, you still had unwavering faith in Mike to hit a three to draw it to four, then make a steal and a quick layup to draw within two, and now the Bulls can play honest defense and then have Mike carve out your heart on their next possession.

If I saw that rabbit-out-of-the-hat scenario once, I saw it a thousand times. And so did Karl Malone, John Stockton, Patrick Ewing, Charles Oakley, Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp, Reggie Miller, Charles Barkley, Terry Porter, and a bunch of other dudes who got Jordaned in the 90s.

Get it straight, media members and hoop heads...

Kobe is Great, but Mike is The Greatest Ever.

(By the by...not in a million years would Mike ever let Tarence Kinsey outscore him and hit the game-winning three over him in a preseason game, let alone a critical regular season HOME game in late March. Never ever ever. So chill the (bleep) out on the "Kobe is Mike's equal on defense" nonsense. That's as silly as saying Ben Affleck can act. Peace!)

Rick Kamla is NBA TV's resident fantasy expert and he'll be here all season to give you insider analysis on the fantasy basketball world. Kamla is the heady host for "NBA TV Fantasy Hoops Presented By Toyota," a six-night-a-week, half-hour studio show that has become the ultimate guide for fantasy basketball players. The show airs live at 1 a.m. ET every night except Thursday. And don't forget to check out Rick Kamla and Rick Barry as they host "In the Paint with Rick & Rick" on NBA Radio, Monday through Wednesday, 3-6 p.m. ET, on Sirius Satelitte Radio Channel 127.


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