People like to compare things. It helps us define other people/ourselves. For example, having a higher GPA than somebody means that you do better in school than them, and generally leads to the assumption that you’re the smarter person. The even more classic example is the bench press, which is the end-all measure of strength. If I can bench 135 lbs and Franco Columbu can bench 525 lbs, I’m going to guess that Franco is stronger than me.
Same goes with basketball. Clearly people have an obsession with trying to find the next Michael Jordan. The last generation is always going to say that there won’t be another Jordan and the new generation is going to continuously look for the player that is going to define their era. Without a doubt, Kobe Bryant has been the second best player in the 21st century (1). But time is against him now. He just turned 34. Let me remind you for a second that Michael was 34 during the 96-97 season (2). That was really his last normally healthy year with the Bulls, because in ’98 he was running on fumes to finish the season, and luckily face an equally aged team in the Finals. The difference with Kobe, however, is that Kobe skipped college, which means he has actually played more basketball than MJ at this age.
Add onto his milage the fact that he has changed offenses 4 times in the last 3 years. Or that he has gone through 3 different head coaches in the same amount of years. MJ had the advantage of consistency on his way to six titles. As the saying goes, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. and the Lakers have done a lot of fixing recently.
I’ll give one more reason why Kobe won’t win a sixth. Look at history. The Lakers win titles in batches of FIVE, led by career Lakers. Mikan won five in the early 50’s, Magic won five throughout the 80’s, and Kobe was a member of five championship teams in the 00’s. If Kobe wins another one, he has to win four more to complete the cycle, and that’s not happening.
By the way, I know the Lakers have 16 NBA titles. Wilt led the Lakers to one in the 70’s. But then again, when has Wilt ever followed any kind of pattern (3).
(1) Tim Duncan.
(2) Coming off of a 70 win championship season, entering a championship season, followed by a championship season. Meanwhile, Kobe and his all-star cast are starting the 12-13 season with a record of 6-6. Yet people still compare.
(3) I typed this post with my iPhone on a four hour trip to West Virginia to visit family for Thanksgiving. Needless to say, the trip got faster and my bucket list got shorter. Happy Thanksgiving!