Kobe Bryant is unquestionably one of the all-time best NBA players in the game’s history. So when word came out that ESPN’s #NBA Rank placed the aging superstar at 40th, Kobe’s initial reaction was to call ESPN “a bunch of idiots.”
Now the sports juggernaut is firing back at Bryant.
In a blog post on ESPN.com, author Royce Webb argues that not only is the reaction to Kobe’s ranking unfounded, that ESPN actually “overrated Kobe tremendously, out of ‘respect.'”
“‘Respect’ is one of the most useless concepts in the NBA when it comes to player evaluation. If we had treated Kobe like any other player, we would’ve said he was no longer a top-25 player, or even close to that. Let’s be blunt: Kobe Bean Bryant was one of the very worst players in the NBA last season — a $30 million disaster. He was closer to the 425th-best player than the 25th-best player.”
Looking back at Kobe’s horrible season last year, it’s hard to argue with their claim.
“He played six games, in which he was mostly just terrible, with negative win shares — that’s right, he was taking wins off the floor. The Lakers had a winning record before he arrived and immediately hit the skids. The team played worse with him on the floor, and on top of that, he insulted his teammates.”
Even USA Today agrees that until “Kobe Bryant [can] prove he can stay healthy for a full season,” #NBA Rank’s assessment is not necessarily wrong.
Still, it’s hard to imagine Bryant’s name not near the top as one of the greats in the league, and even harder for Kobe himself to admit he’s not what he used to be. Many talents have a difficult time walking away when their game diminishes, and you can certainly add Kobe to the list following his comments.
The day Bryant does decide to walk away, however, the 36-year old superstar may have a different job title on his resume before he hangs it up. As reported by Inquisitr, Bryant may be in line to take over as Union President with remarks made to the Los Angeles Times recently. He challenged the notion that players should take below market value in order to win championships, claiming it’s the owners who set the salary cap, not the players.
He also thinks the players “need to hold our ground, and not be afraid of what the public perception is, but instead try to educate the public.”
[Kobe Bryant image courtesy of ESPN ]