Now that Kobe Bryant has passed Michael Jordan for third place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, can we definitively rank him as one of the 10 greatest players ever?
“You know, it’s interesting,” CBS Sports senior NBA writer Ken Berger said on Tiki and Tierney. “I hadn’t actually taken out an envelop and a pencil and scratched that out on paper, but I would think so.”
Bryant has scored 32,331 points in his career – 39 more points than Michael Jordan (32,292). He now trails Karl Malone by 4,597 points for second all time and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar by 6,056 points for first place all time.
“Obviously in terms of the scoring list, he’s not going to catch Malone or Kareem, and it’s not just all about that,” Berger said. “But I mean, (he’s won) five championships. He doesn’t have the MVP resume that some guys have – like a LeBron, for example – but right now, I think you have to have him in there. He’s had an incredible career – and at an important time for the NBA. I think that’s important, too. He kind of connects that old-school era and the new era with LeBron and whoever comes next.”
All right, let’s play a little game of either-or. Who would you rather have?
Bryant or Jordan? Jordan.
Bryant or Magic Johnson? Johnson.
Bryant or Larry Bird? Bird.
Bryant or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar? Abdul-Jabbar.
Bryant or Bill Russell? Russell.
Bryant or Tim Duncan?
“That’s where it gets interesting,” Berger said. “I think Duncan. You probably have to (say Duncan). That’s close. If you put a gun to my head, I might have to say Duncan.”
Here’s another question: Who was more valuable to the Lakers during their championships runs? Shaq or Kobe?
“That’s a great question,” Berger said. “They needed each other. They needed and deserved each other in a lot of ways. And they would have won more if they could have figured out a way to co-exist for a little longer.”
Unfortunately, they could not.
“I guess you have to say that Shaq was the guy that Kobe needed more so than the other way around,” Berger said. “Although Kobe did win with Pau and those guys after (Shaq) left. So that one that the Lakers won after Shaq was gone was a big one for Kobe and his legacy, and you put that right at the top of his resume in this conversation.”
Do you want to know who’s not one of the top 10 players in NBA history (or even one of the top 10 players in the game today)? That would Lance Stephenson, who could soon be playing for his third team since the summer.
Charlotte is trying to trade the mercurial 24-year-old, who signed with the Hornets in July.
“Lance is a unique guy,” Berger said. “Is that a nice way to put it? He’s an interesting guy, and when you bring him into your culture – when you bring him into your locker room – you’re taking a risk. It hasn’t worked out from a chemistry standpoint.”
Interestingly enough, the Pacers are reportedly interesting in re-acquiring Stephenson, who is averaging 10.3 points, 4.9 assists and 7.0 rebounds this season.
“Maybe they feel this is a danger that we know and that we have had success with in the past,” Berger said, “so maybe we can do it again.”