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Kobe says he has no active rivals left in NBA

Mar 3, 2012, 9:00 PM EDT

Kobe Bryant, Donte Greene AP

Dwyane Wade and LeBron James will be fired up when the Heat take on the Lakers Sunday afternoon in a nationally televised game.

Not because the Lakers are particularly threatening this season, but because of Kobe Bryant. He is the measuring stick for all the great players in the NBA right now — five-time champion, 14-time All-Star, MVP, finals MVP, one of the top scorers ever to play the game. Even at 33 playing through torn wrist ligaments (and right now a mask) he leads the league in scoring.

But while the contemporary players are trying to measure themselves against Kobe, Kobe is measuring himself against the greats.

He is thinking about his legacy and says right now his challenges do not come from contemporary players, Kobe told Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com.

“At this point my rivals, in terms of what I have left to accomplish in my career, (left the game) when Magic (Johnson) and Michael (Jordan) retired in ’98,” Bryant said, referring to the second of Jordan’s three retirements that came after he won his sixth and final championship with the Chicago Bulls. “That’s it. In terms of what I’m looking to accomplish, that’s about it….

“What I have left to accomplish, those players retired a long time ago,” Bryant said.

He’s right in the grand sense — there is no contemporary player who right now has a legacy like Kobe. Tim Duncan is close, but as Kobe said you think of him differently because he’s a big, you compare him to different people. Kobe is the direct line with Jordan and Magic.

But to add to his legacy — to get that sixth ring like Jordan — Kobe is going to have to find a way to get past contemporary players. Specifically LeBron and Wade, who with the Heat look to be the team every other team must measure itself against for the next few years.

We’ll see how ready the Lakers are for that. We know Kobe will be ready.

  1. rodgersmvp - Mar 3, 2012 at 9:10 PM

    I completely agree with that sentiment, and I don’t like Kobe. Kobe measures up to Jordan better than LeBron. I feel like LeBron and Kobe play differently, and it isn’t fair to compare the two. Kobe is a clutch scorer and LeBron would rather pass in most situations. I’m not saying either way is bad, but it seems strange to compare them when they have such different playstyles.

    • Mr. Wright 212 - Mar 5, 2012 at 10:02 AM

      Besides, people who say “LeBron isn’t like Jordan, he’s more like Magic” are moronic. Magic almost ALWAYS made that pass even when he wasn’t looking to score. Just because LeBron folds like a tent by passing up the game winning shots doesn’t mean he’s comparable to Magic. He’s just a shrinking violet in crunch time. PERIOD.

      Aside from a couple of blips on the radar (vs. DET in 2007 and a couple of games against ORL in 2009), LeBron isn’t even in the same strata as Jordan, Magic OR Kobe.

      He’s more like Tracy McGrady than anything; no insult, but definitely not an all-time great. Stat geeks will love his stats and that annoying “PER” nonsense that still pulls the shades over his lack of killer instinct to make the right play (sometimes passing IS the right play, but these past few games — including the albeit-meaningless All-Star Game) is more telling than “27, 8 and 7″.

  2. isujames - Mar 3, 2012 at 9:25 PM

    Kobe is a funny guy,Magic or MJ had no rivalry with him,they are not his rivals.Kobe you where still a kid when those two giants left the game. MJ was a better player in his final year with the bulls than you have been in your entire career.

    • velascochad - Mar 3, 2012 at 9:40 PM

      were* you’re a funny guy. you should at least know the difference between where and were before you comment (a stupid comment)

      • redbullenergydrink - Mar 4, 2012 at 12:32 AM

        Uh oh! Vocabulary police alert!

      • velascochad - Mar 4, 2012 at 1:57 AM

        nope! im a grammar nazi!

      • redbullenergydrink - Mar 4, 2012 at 2:09 PM

        Haha. Fair enough! :)

      • mytthor - Mar 4, 2012 at 1:19 AM

        Actually that’s grammar, big guy, not vocabulary.

      • jimeejohnson - Mar 4, 2012 at 12:01 PM

        The point is there is no current player that rivals Kobe in terms of championships, the true measure of a great one, non withstanding Kobe’s scoring prowess, etc.

    • baaaaaaait - Mar 3, 2012 at 10:09 PM

      wow dude, nobody is questioning whether kobe ever had a rivalry with either of those two players on the court, nor calling him superior to jordan… read above – ‘my rivals, in terms of what I have left to accomplish in my career’

      ‘ACCOMPLISH in my CAREER’

      and anyway, irrelevant of whether you agree with him even within the context of a broader outlook (as kurt mentions above), of course kobe bryant is going to think like this. it’s the reason he has achieved so much on the court and also the reason he remains so flawed as a basketball player to this day. you’d know that if you had even followed basketball in the slightest capacity in the past decade, which i assume you have if you are reading this blog.

      so… bit of a non-issue, no?

    • cpaulii - Mar 4, 2012 at 12:22 AM

      you’re a funny guy… do yourself a favor and go to utube and search kobe vs jordan. Kobe even score 55 vs jordan. and that included 41 points in the first half. In the second half kobe was in foul trouble and finish w/ 55 points. If not for foul trouble that 80+ could’ve been on Jordan, that’s how crazy competitive Kobe is, and still in his 16 season.

    • Mr. Wright 212 - Mar 5, 2012 at 10:05 AM

      He wasn’t saying he was rivals with any of those guys, fool. He was stating how he is effectively (and actually) a bridge between those guys and these flopping, whiny new jacks that these young kids THINK are greats.

  3. losangelasbasketball - Mar 3, 2012 at 9:41 PM

    did kobe leave a franchise to win multiple championships? did magic? jordan? He’s in the discussion with those greats imo…

    • kinggw - Mar 3, 2012 at 10:42 PM

      No, but he damn sure cried like a little girl begging to leave the franchise. Lakers fans conveniently forget how Kobe cried about the Lakers not trading Bynum for Jason Kidd.

      • ss3walkman - Mar 3, 2012 at 11:06 PM

        Ouch! But he sure isn’t lying. He sure was begging for a trade. You can’t deny remembering that.

      • deadeyedesign23 - Mar 4, 2012 at 12:54 AM

        You must have forgotten how Jordan held the Bulls over a barrel almost every year, demanding that he be allowed to make personel decisions. Which, seeing the kind of GM he was, would have been a disaster.

      • mytthor - Mar 4, 2012 at 1:22 AM

        Magic Johnson is my favorite player of all time, and he also famously threw a big tantrum about the Lakers not having enough talent and trying to force trades.

      • Mr. Wright 212 - Mar 5, 2012 at 10:09 AM

        Magic got Paul Westhead fired. He threatened to demand a trade if it didn’t take place. That’s how Pat Riley got the job in the first place. I recall it clearly.

        Kobe haters just need to realize that after 2009, you have run out of things to use to discredit him, so just stop trying.

    • tito20pr - Mar 4, 2012 at 6:30 PM

      really how many of those multiple championships was he the MVP of? he sounds more like a glorified second banana,how did he do when he was in a mediocre team how many times he went to the playoffs or how many time he lead them any were? and isn’t a great player suppose to lead teams instead of team leading him did he go tho the playoffs when he won all those scoring titles??? no but for some reason no one seams to say that kobes “championships” were some of if not the best all-around teams in the 2000′s any other star from the era would have won even more tittles with the teams he played with

      • fouldwimmerlaik - Mar 6, 2012 at 4:05 PM

        Rubbish.

        That same core couldn’t even accomplish much during Del Harris’ tenure…

        … until a dude called the Zen Master came along…

  4. legeisyaj - Mar 3, 2012 at 9:48 PM

    Kobe may be the best of his time, but he is no Jordan, no Bird, no Magic. A hall of famer, yes, a great scorer and player, for sure. But there are greater greats than he.

    • cosanostra71 - Mar 3, 2012 at 10:40 PM

      he’s right there with them though.

      • sellahh - Mar 4, 2012 at 7:46 AM

        Jordan, sure as hell, check. Magic, I don’t know. Where Magic would play center, Kobe would throw up multiple contested twos. Like a single regular season MVP (which Kobe should have) or a ring more and Id place him above Magic. Bird? You just made my day, sincerely thanks.

    • cinnalocks - Mar 4, 2012 at 11:18 AM

      Kobe started being great as a teen…………..he has five rings…….Bird has 3, Magic has 5 and Jordan has 6, so who are the greats greater than he? And if they are indeed so great why does he have so many rings. Most people comment before they really think it out or let emotions get the better of them.

      • tito20pr - Mar 4, 2012 at 6:38 PM

        lets see how many finals MVP’s does MJ has all of them right and kobe ride shaq all the way to those 3 championships easy kobe’s nuts riders have the worst arguments of all time

  5. tampajoey - Mar 3, 2012 at 10:39 PM

    Kobe’s place among the greats of NBA history can be debated. But, easily a top10 player of all time.

    Presently however, Kobe’s comments were more of a slap in Lebron’s face.

    Lebron can’t even enter the Kobe conversation until he has a fist full of rings… some time around NEVER!

  6. premiumpit - Mar 3, 2012 at 10:45 PM

    Im not saying Kobe is better then Jordon…Cause hes not…But hes right…There is no one in the nba that has done what hes done right now…Lebron will never be in that class because he took the coward way out and needed to go to another stars team to try to win…Jordon would of never have done that…EVER…Kobe didnt do it either…Kobe deserves his props…hes a great player…

  7. vstyle23 - Mar 4, 2012 at 12:19 AM

    I’m a huge Jordan fan, and an even bigger Kobe Hater but recently I had to come to grips with something. Stacking up Jprdan and Kobe’s games together along with there numbers you begin to see how “great” Kobe is. I’m not saying that he’s better, but if you were to start an ultimate team, I believe Kobe’s 2 or dare I say 1b to Jordan. The guy is carrying a pretty scrubby squad with all kinds of injuries. I know he copies everything that Jordan does and did even down to the spouse situation, ouch, but if he’s copying, he’s doing a great job of it. What do you think

    • pudgalvin - Mar 4, 2012 at 10:53 AM

      No disagreement that Kobe is an all time great, but there is not 1 single way that Kobe’s game measure’s better than Jordan’s. Points, rebounds, assists, playoff averages, field goal percentage, etc. There’s not one single number that supports Kobe being as good as Jordan. Again, no disrespect to Kobe, but Jordan was better, and I think Kobe is just about out of time to make his case.

    • tito20pr - Mar 4, 2012 at 6:44 PM

      really he has 2 seventh feet tall players one of them really young and maybe the best offensive low post player right now and a versatile PF that can score easily 20+ if kobe knew how to play with others and that’s a scrubby team really????

    • mightyquinn69 - Mar 5, 2012 at 11:13 AM

      I agree with you, but when you compare the two, Kobe, is a better all a round stooter. Jordan is a better finisher at the rim. Another thing is that Kobe will probably pass Jordan on the all time scoring list. And I would say that the NBA is a much more competitive league right now.

  8. zblott - Mar 4, 2012 at 1:43 AM

    Anyone want to point out the Lakers never get worse when Kobe doesn’t play, but they have always dropped in a hurry when whoever their top big man does (including LA’s 2-16 meltdown when Odom was hurt at the end of the ’04-05 season)? Anyone want to point out that the Lakers always IMPROVED in Kobe’s absence during the Shaq years? Not to bring wins and losses into a discussion about a player’s value or anything:

    http://www.behindthebasket.com/btb/2011/9/1/its-all-about-the-ws-kobe-bryant.html

    • sellahh - Mar 4, 2012 at 7:49 AM

      Yeah I think the Hawks are doing not that bad at all without Horford. Does it make them a better team or Horford a team cancer? Always small size sample, thats about it, cut Kobe from that 04-05 team for the whole season and lets see what happens.

      • carolinakid - Mar 4, 2012 at 11:01 AM

        Take the refs off the the first 3 championship seasons and the Lakers are a .500 team.

        The NBA is like our Government, sold to the highest bidder and by far the most corrupt of all major sports leagues.

      • zblott - Mar 4, 2012 at 11:12 AM

        Hawks are 7-3 with Horford before he was hurt (including splits with Miami and Chicago), and 15-12 since. You might want to check the wins and losses before making a comment about wins and losses.

        As for this small sample size you mention, Kobe has missed almost an entire season’s worth of games in his career – that seems like quite a bit. The big men on his teams have missed even more than that – same deal. As for that ’04-05 season you’re wondering about, they were 28-38 with him (42%) and 6-10 (38%) without, definitely not the impact of Odom’s absence when the team went 2-16 (11%).

    • hoopsmccann - Mar 4, 2012 at 12:46 PM

      zblott – I’ve been to your website where you try to prove that Kobe is just an average player and that the rare occasions when he hasn’t played in his career the Lakers actually won a few more games percentage wise. But you do it all with statistics which anybody who thinks clearly and understands the game knows do not tell anywhere near the whole story.

      You fail utterly to address the psychological aspects of the players (and even the fans) when the best player in the NBA doesn’t suit up for the game. The opposing team has a tremendous letdown because they also get excited and up for every game they play against the Lakers when Kobe is playing!

      Ever wonder why that when a team is blowing out another by 24 points or so in the first half how often the losing team makes a miraculous comeback in the 2nd and if not a win they make the game very close? Do you think they just got a lot better in the 2nd or perhaps the team with the big lead had a slight psychological letdown from being up by so much? Duh.

      Also, when Kobe is out the rest of the Laker team gets pumped and steps up all aspects of their respective games to show that they are indeed not just a one man team. Again the psychological aspects.

      Also your samples include so many out for one or two game examples without considering that Kobe was already playing hurt in the games immediately before and still recovering from injury in the games after he came back. He plays hurt more than any player I’ve ever seen.

      I’ll stick with the opinion of virtually every coach and GM in the game that if they were to pick any current player to start a championship franchise they’d pick Kobe. Or do you actually think you know more then all of them.

      • zblott - Mar 4, 2012 at 12:56 PM

        This “psychological aspect” you bring up would make sense…except for the fact the exact opposite is true for every other great player you look at the wins and losses for. I did this exact same examination for Shaq, Kidd, Duncan, Bill Russell, Nash, etc., and for everyone else, the team gets worse without that star, just like a rational thinking fan would expect. And why wouldn’t this work for all the big men who have missed games while playing with Kobe? Whenever Shaq, Pau, or Bynum have missed games, the Lakers have consistently dropped to right around .500. Explain that.

      • hoopsmccann - Mar 4, 2012 at 1:10 PM

        Here are just a few -

        “He keeps doing it. He keeps making shots. He’s a great player and deserves to be called a great player.”
        —Celtics head coach Doc Rivers

        “If he gets going, you won’t be able to stop him at all.”
        —Former NBA All-Star Jalen Rose

        “I’ve always thought he was the best player in basketball. I don’t think it’s even close.”
        —NBA coach Alvin Gentry

        “There’s nobody in this league that can guard him.”
        —NBA coach Byron Scott

        “I see a lot of myself in him. No doubt about it.”
        —NBA legend Michael Jordan

        “He has the ability to take the game over.”
        —Teammate Derek Fisher

        “When Kobe focuses in, he’s a good defensive player. When he decides he’s not going to give any player anything, he will be the best.”
        —NBA coach Jim Cleamons

        “Nobody can guard Kobe one-on-one. Nobody.”
        —Former Lakers coach Del Harris

        “If there’s a player in the NBA who has a chance to be Michael Jordan, I believe this is the one player. He combines the talent with the same incredible work ethic.”
        —Agent Arn Tellem

        “Every play, you look at him and wonder, ‘What’s next?”
        —Former teammate Eddie Jones

        “Kobe’s a model of what a young player should aspire to be. Year by year he learned and made his game more solid, and now he’s not just a highlight-film guy but an accomplished NBA player.”
        —Former NBA head coach Larry Brown

        “Kobe’s range is unreal, and he does it his way.”
        —Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

        “He takes the type of shots where you don’t think they’re going in, but suddenly he’s rolling, so he’s kind of hard to stop.”
        —All-Star Chris Bosh

        “He’s learned how to become a leader in a way in which people want to follow him. That’s really important for him to have learned that because he knew that he had to give to get back in return, and so he’s become a giver rather than just a guy that’s a demanding leader. That’s been great for him and great to watch.”
        —Lakers head coach Phil Jackson

        …and my favorite from the best active head coach in the NBA -
        “Kobe Bryant is an assassin!”
        –Coach Greg Popovich

      • loungefly74 - Mar 5, 2012 at 8:15 AM

        hoopsmccann = FOR THE WIN!!!!

        wow! what a way to make a statement. zblott, you can only go against the grain so much…but there comes a point where you realize and say….hmmm…”maybe i’m wrong about this guy.”

        zblott, it’s okay to admit defeat. hey man, i thought kevin durant was going to be HORRIBLE…i’m still eating crow on that one.

    • tito20pr - Mar 4, 2012 at 6:47 PM

      there are lots of ways to prove that he is not as good as advertise but don’t tell that to the nut riders and to ESPN they think he is perfect

      • loungefly74 - Mar 5, 2012 at 8:21 AM

        tito…i’ve read several comments by you and i have to say…you don’t know JACK. plain n’ simple, a hater…

      • mightyquinn69 - Mar 5, 2012 at 11:23 AM

        I second that one. “Jack”

  9. fouldwimmerlaik - Mar 4, 2012 at 4:33 AM

    Don’t divert the issue fellas. Tell me, who among the active players right now in the NBA can boast far better credentials if not as equal as Kobe?

    Wade?

    LeBron?

    Please.

    Duncan is the closest by far, but even he cannot boast of back-to-back championships.

    • sellahh - Mar 4, 2012 at 7:51 AM

      At least Duncan can boast 50% FG percentage. Pun intended, Kobe fan here.

      • mightyquinn69 - Mar 5, 2012 at 11:27 AM

        I would like to see Kobe convert a higher % as well, but when you look at the fact that the lakers have never had a good PG, and Kobe takes so many difficult shoots, it’s just not going to happen.

  10. shinchjjang - Mar 4, 2012 at 4:41 AM

    I have to agree kobe is as close as it gets to Jordan. Sure he could of had better leadership but can’t doubt his skill and competitiveness. Lebron has chance to be even better depending how his career ends but got to give props to Kobe.

  11. omniusprime - Mar 4, 2012 at 8:53 AM

    Kobe is correct that there are no modern day rivals for the type of greatness he has displayed during his entire career. Sorry but Wade rode Shaq’s back to an NBA title and now he wants to ride Queen James’s coattails to another but LeBoring doesn’t have any to ride. I hope Kupcake gets his act together and brings some great new talent to the Lakers so Kobe eclipses Magic’s ring count as well as MJ’s, an accomplishment Queen James will never reach. Go Lakers!

    • tito20pr - Mar 4, 2012 at 6:53 PM

      really you want to talk about some one riding shaq’s back kobe did it 3 times already when wade “did it” oh and don’t forget that no gasol means not 2 other rings

  12. AlohaMrHand - Mar 4, 2012 at 9:50 AM

    I thought Ruben Patterson the “Kobe stopper” was his rival?Lol

  13. wakiash - Mar 4, 2012 at 10:15 AM

    Much ego, Kobe? You have no active rivals because anyone considered a rival is better than you, especially you ex-wife’s lovers!

    • cinnalocks - Mar 4, 2012 at 11:31 AM

      Is this kind of rant the result of a little man’s complex or insufficient phallic complex?

      • jimeejohnson - Mar 4, 2012 at 12:07 PM

        Both!

  14. rawgator06 - Mar 4, 2012 at 11:28 AM

    Kobe has no “rivals” because there is slim to no chance of the Lakers winning another championship with him around. After last years embarrassment, Kobe’s Lakers are no longer an elite team.

  15. premiumpit - Mar 4, 2012 at 12:01 PM

    Sorry bruh but football is by far the most corrupt sport in the world…If u think not u need to open those eyes of yours…Its the most bet on sport in the world…just because a ref didnt get caught in the nfl dont mean its not going on…

  16. rodge1 - Mar 4, 2012 at 12:22 PM

    Kobe said that because he’s past his prime and no longer at the top. No one is intimidated anymore, not even Lin. Kobe mentioned Magic and Jordan because their respective careers ended years ago… Just like Kobe’s!!!!

  17. premiumpit - Mar 4, 2012 at 2:16 PM

    I agree with kobe…im not sayin hes better the jordon but who in the nba right has done more…No one…give him his props…He didnt do what that coward lebron did…he didnt leave his team to go to another stars team to try to win a championship…lebron will never be in his league…lebron to me is the biggest waste of talent ever…he has talent but no heart what so ever…jordon would of never done that…ever…and kobe didnt either…

  18. isujames - Mar 4, 2012 at 2:35 PM

    Kobe ain’t have to leave his team to go join another superstars team because first of all he is in a big city,on a team that has enough $$$$ to bring in big name free agents or make trades to position themselves to win championships.Besides that kobe is a good enough player and person to make the face of your franchise for the length of his career and very affordable for a big market team that gets more than its fair share of national t.v exposure.

  19. lakerluver - Mar 4, 2012 at 3:34 PM

    He’s correct.

  20. lakerluver - Mar 4, 2012 at 3:43 PM

    Kobe’s the second best perimeter player ever behind MJ. If he wins another ring or two he could move to the top of the list. Magic is the greatest PG ever. Bird is arguably the greatest SF ever. But neither were very good defenders. Kobe’s only rival is MJ because they were great players on both ends of the court. LeBron will never be on their level. Not enough intestinal fortitude.

    • tito20pr - Mar 4, 2012 at 7:01 PM

      so kobe is suppose to be great defensively and lebron is not ahaha you are not serious right lebron has more than once held 7 feet tall players in check including D.howard and just today gasol and he is offensively one of the best all-time by the time he is finish he be in a class of his own, everything kobe has done is to imitate jordan

  21. md23rewlz - Mar 4, 2012 at 5:16 PM

    Maybe I’m reading his comments wrong, but I think he’s just saying that his peak years coincided with a time in the NBA where there weren’t many elite guards. Those were the Duncan Spur years. And by the time Wade and LeBron and the like were entering the spotlight, Kobe was already to the point of established veteran-ism that they weren’t really “rivals.” Rivalries are different when the players come up around the same time. It’s hard to consider yourself a rival with somebody who came up in the league when you already had seven years under your belt.

    • mightyquinn69 - Mar 5, 2012 at 11:35 AM

      I keep hearing people say that Kobe has imitated Jordan. Can anyone tell me exactly what has Kobe imitaded? His turn around jump shot? That would be Elvin Hayes, aka Big E. What else?

  22. cowboyscanada - Mar 4, 2012 at 6:48 PM

    Lebron, wade, Bosh,,,,not in Bryant’s class.

  23. balleriq - Mar 6, 2012 at 1:12 PM

    If you were fortunate enough to watch Jordan play in his prime, then you’d know its not even close. I’m no Kobe fan, but I give him his due, but people, its not even close.

    Mike was the alpha and omega of those Bulls teams, one of which won freakin’ 72 games, and 69 the season after! Mike was out of the game for 2 yrs during his prime, thats the ONLY time other teams even sniffed the championship during his day. How this is even a debate, I’ll never understand.

    And to the poster asking about how Kobe imitates Jordan : his ingame celebrations, his speech pattern among other things.

  24. jimeejohnson - Mar 6, 2012 at 8:50 PM

    Kevin Durant is on his way to that level, but he needs to win a championship or two before being on the level of Kobe Bryant. In his prime, Kobe was as clutch as anyone ever was, and I root for Boston, but know why they call him Black Mamba. You’ve got to want to take that last shot for the win and hit it over and over to be like Kobe (note to LeBron: take the shot next time). Durant wants to take that shot.

  25. loungefly74 - Mar 7, 2012 at 9:09 AM

    i guess if we HAD to name some players…the closest i could think who would be rivals are…Allen Iverson, Steve Nash, and Ray Allen (all from the 1996 draft)…haha…i just made myself laugh…yeah, that didn’t work.

    okay kobe…you didn’t have a rival in your career.

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