On Sunday night Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant will play his last game against the New York Knicks. Honestly though, who cares?
By Robby Sabo
Who is this guy suddenly? Michael Jordan?
Actually, with all of the hoopla surrounding Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant during the 2015-16 NBA season, you’d think MJ couldn’t even match up to No. 24. The way Bryant’s been treated during this far-too-drastic farewell tour has many questioning unimaginable things about where he ranks in the history of the league.
Basketball Hall of Famer? No doubt. One of the greats to ever play the game? For sure. The single best Jordan impersonator to ever walk the Earth? Of course.
Does Kobe Bryant deserve consideration for top five NBA players of all time?
There isn’t a chance in the world he does.
A guy who boasts a career .448 mark from the field should never be considered among such names as Bill Russell, Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain, and Oscar Robertson. Hell, there are even three guys within his own organization who should rank higher than him (Magic Johnson, Jerry West and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar).
His one-dimensional nature as a basketball player is reason for that. While Kobe is one of the greatest scorers and clutch performers to have ever played the game, the other areas and intangibles he lacks are oftentimes overlooked.
Putting aside the absurdity of where Kobe ranks all-time, and this outrageous farewell tour that has literally destroyed the progress of the youngsters on the Lakers, we, from a New York City perspective have an even bigger question.
Why do we care so much that this is the last time Kobe Bryant will be facing the New York Knicks?
Like previously mentioned: This isn’t Michael Jordan.
This isn’t a guy who played in the Eastern Conference. He didn’t suit up for the Chicago Bulls and rip the hearts out of Knicks fans during the 1990s. He wasn’t that one pain-in-the-ass obstacle between Patrick Ewing, Charles Oakley and John Starks and an NBA Championship.
Kobe played his entire career far, far away from New York, in the West, for the Lakers.
He took on the Knicks twice a season, and of course never played them in the finals. Why does the media and the association look to hype up every stop Kobe Bryant makes on this never-ending tour?
OK. So Bryant playing his last game at Madison Square Garden earlier in the season was a much bigger story. He was one of the faces of an NBA era, and when one of the faces walks away his last game at The Mecca will always be a story.
The time he poured in 61 points would, of course, be the highlight of this particular night:
But to make Kobe and the Knicks a story on a night that sees the game being played in Los Angeles is just flat-out ridiculous.
When does this nauseating nonsense end, and how come more pundits aren’t ripping a guy who is costing the franchise he supposedly loves so much?
This farewell tour has seen him take an obscene 16.4 shots per game, while only connecting on 35.6 percent of them. That’s simply awful.
The basketball world would have much more respect for the guy if he’d take more of a backseat and allow the D’Angelo Russell‘s and Julius Randle‘s of the world to assume more responsibility in effort to further their progress.
I know New York City hoops fans would have more respect for Kobe if he did that.
In any event, Kobe’s farewell tour continues, and the Knicks are next on the ledger. Don’t be confused though: Bryant and the Knicks have no connection other than playing two very irrelevant games per season for the last two decades.
There’s really no juicy storyline here. This is only a creation of the hype machine pushing this farewell tour to begin with.