Now that Kobe Bryant has passed Shaquille O’Neal for the fifth spot on the all-time scoring list. Now I think we can fully assess the trade that sent Shaquille O’Neal to the Miami Heat for a bag of peanuts and a lawn chair. One has to conclude that the Lakers won that trade. I know that’s a news flash to you, so I’ll allow you some time to get yourself together1. You probably choked on your throat lozenge, or dropped your pants in disgust (Mike Singletary style). So pull up your pants and pay attention.
Even though Bryant’s career still has more life, you can start to rank him all-time. I have him ranked as the second best guard all-time behind Michael Jordan. I don’t even think that’s arguable. The only guard close to him is Magic Johnson (Isiah Thomas is also peeking through the lattice like a creepy next door neighbor). That’s right Kobe is a better player than Magic. He’s a better offensive player and a better defender (Magic Johnson couldn’t defend any elite guard). Now while I allow you to pull up your pants again. Think about where Kobe ranks as a Laker.
I’m not going to give you a lot of foreplay. I’m just going to come out and say it. Kobe Bryant is not the greatest Laker of all-time. As a matter of fact he’s third behind Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar2 respectively. I know I said that Kobe is a better player that Magic, but that doesn’t translate to being the greatest Laker. See the Lakers are an institution of basketball. Over the course of the NBA the Lakers have been synonymous with success. They have won a championship in every decade of the NBA’s existence. They also brought flash to the NBA with the Laker girls and the Showtime persona. So when you consider someone to be the greatest Laker ever. We’re not necessarily looking for the best player ever. You are looking for a combination of being a great basketball player while being a representation of what the Lakers are.
Think about Magic coming out of college after beating Larry Bird for a National Championship. This guy was an immediate factor in the NBA. In his rookie year he won an NBA Championship, and a Finals MVP. Magic was dazzling with his passing ability, and his infectious smile. He had the ability to lift The Forum by himself. Also you have to consider that Johnson and Bird saved the NBA in the 80s. That’s why Magic Johnson is the greatest Laker of all-time. Now could Kobe Bryant pass him? I guess so, but I think Bryant is shooting for the greatest of all-time.
1. I really hope I wasn’t breaking news.
2. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: 6 NBA championships (5 as a Laker), 6 time MVP (3 as a Laker), and the NBA all-time leading scorer. Also profiled an unblock able shot as a Laker.
Kortney Shane Williams
Editor-in-Chief of Comedic Prose
Follow Kortney Williams on Twitter @kortneyshane