Though several years removed from professional ball, basketball icon Allen Iverson is well-aware of the conversations around the Association. For the past few years, fans and analysts have been debating about who's really the Greatest of All Time. It usually involves two names: Michael Jordan and LeBron James. While Iverson respects these two greats, he's confused why the late great Kobe Bryant isn't included in these debates.
Iverson, who's known for always speaking from his heart, posed these questions with a look of confusion in his eyes. For him, it is common sense to mention Kobe Bryant in the same sentence as Jordan and James.
"When they talk about comparing [LeBron] to Mike…I don't understand how they don't have the debate when it come[s] to Kobe," Iverson said and then made his point even clearer.
"I really think they forgot. The Mamba, man. I'm talking about a certified killer! I've never seen nobody kill like 23, 24, and 8."
Allen Iverson, KobeHighlight
Parsing out Iverson's argument
Iverson has an excellent point. After all, Kobe Bryant has five title rings to his name. Yes, he needed assistance from Shaquille O'Neal, Pau Gasol, and a slew of reliable role players. But you cannot say that Bryant wasn't one of the leaders of those title squads.
Casuals would say that Bryant just scored the ball and did nothing else. In reality, Bryant was a nine-time All-Defensive First Team and three-time All-Defensive Second Team selection. He's up there as one of the best perimeter defenders in the history of the game.
Championships and individual accolades — Bryant has them all in his resume. Apart from this, commentators aptly named him The Closer for the entirety of his career. As the alias suggests, Bryant had a knack for closing out games. Be it a 3-pointer to give his team a safe cushion or an actual buzzer-beating shot, Kobe propelled his team to victory in more ways than one. The clutch gene is what separates the good ones from the greats.
And so the question remains: why isn't The Black Mamba in these debates? Some say it is because of his inefficient shooting percentage. Yes, he has hit some of the craziest shots in all of basketball, but these are all but highlights. Bryant shot 44.7%. This is a very good percentage, but it is awfully low compared to Michael Jordan's 49.7% or LeBron's 50.5%. Comparing him to LeBron doesn't make sense since King James' points usually came from the paint. Bryant's playstyle mirrored Jordan, but sadly, he did a poor impersonation, at least based on their shooting percentages.
Another argument by Kobe skeptics is the fact that Kobe just won two NBA Finals MVPs out of his five titles. They don't care that Shaq won three all three MVP Finals trophies during their three-peat. If Kobe was really the star of that team, then he would've at least won one. This led people to believe that Kobe was merely Shaq's sidekick.
We can go on and present both sides of the coin and talk for hours on end about Kobe. Whatever the case may be, we should at least consider Iverson's point. While these debates seem endless, it's a way for us to talk about the game we all love.