Kobe Bryant: My Choice For 1st Team All-NBA

Darius Soriano —  March 24, 2011

With the post season rapidly approaching, we’re nearing the point where the regular season awards will be voted on. Over a series of posts, I’ll make my argument for a specific Laker to win an award or be included on one of the All-NBA or Defensive teams. Today, my take on why Kobe Bryant should be selected 1st Team All-NBA.

For 12 years running now, Kobe Bryant has been a member of one of the three All-NBA teams. He first made an appearance as a 3rd team member in the 1999 season and also made the 3rd team in the 2005 season. Every other year since 1999, Kobe has been either 1st or 2nd team including five consecutive seasons as a Guard on the 1st team. He’s a mainstay as a 1st team performer and in a typical season, this would barely be up for question.

However, this isn’t a typical season. With Derrick Rose likely earning the league MVP honors this year, it’s a strong bet that he’ll also be represented as one of the guards on the All-NBA 1st team. This now leaves one guard slot for two highly deserving players: Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade (or three players if you count Chris Paul – also having an excellent year).

So, what distinguishes Kobe from other deserving candidates?

Honestly, not that much. When compared to Wade, the differences are truly minuscule. When you look at their statistical comparisons, Wade scores slightly more, rebounds a bit better, and is better at blocking shots. Meanwhile, Kobe has slightly better assist numbers, makes more three pointers (while also shooting a higher %), shoots a better % at the FT line, and boasts slightly lower turnover numbers. The advanced stats tell a similar story in that Wade is a bit more efficient but not by such a margin that it’s clear he’s had the better year.

When you add Paul to the mix, you see that Paul is clearly superior in terms of assists but suffers in scoring and rebounding. Paul edges out both players in terms of efficiency – besting both in PER and in win shares – but not at a level that screams he’s having a superior season. If anything I think comparing Paul (a PG) to Kobe/Wade (SG’s) is a bit too much of an apples to oranges comparison (I think comparing Rose to Paul would be the much better comparison) but I wanted to include him here because he is having another stellar campaign and he should be considered when deciding who makes 1st team.

Even with all of these stats, however, I’m think that Kobe has had the better year, if only slightly.

Maybe this comes from me having seen much more of Kobe than I have of the other players, but I think he deserves the nod for the campaign that he’s having. Granted, he’s not performing at an MVP level, but he’s actually quite close. Even though he’s playing reduced minutes (his lowest amount since his rookie season) his statistical output is top shelf. And since he’s not even playing 36 minutes a game, his per 36 minute averages take a slight jump to the point where he can be  compared even more favorably to Wade (with Kobe averaging more points and the rebounding difference shrinking). Plus, Kobe’s numbers pretty much line up with what Rose is doing on a nightly basis, tallying less assists per 36 minutes but besting the Bull’s PG in points and rebounds while shooting a higher percentage from the floor and having a higher PER. 

Lastly, Kobe is performing better in the clutch  than Wade and Paul. Based off 82games.com’s sortable clutch stats, Kobe is scoring more than double Paul, shooting a higher FG%, rebounding more, and assisting only slightly less. Meanwhile, Kobe also bests Wade in scoring, FG%, assists, FT attempts, and FT% in these “clutch” situations. Granted, Kobe takes more shots than these players, but I think that’s negated by the fact that he’s scoring more efficiently in this period than those two. Down the stretch of a close game – a circumstance and part of the game where Kobe’s play earns him a fare share of criticism – he’s simply doing more than the other players that he’s likely fighting with for this honor.

In the end, Kobe’s numbers may not be clearly superior but I think he deserves the 1st team nod. When you combine his overall numbers, his impact for his team, his performance in the clutch, and the fact that he’s played in all 71 of his team’s games (something I have not raised and that can’t be said for Wade/Paul), I think he edges them out. I know we’re partisan voters here and we’d all like to see Kobe be named to his 6th straight All-NBA 1st team, but I truly think he’s earned it. How about you?

Darius Soriano

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54 responses to Kobe Bryant: My Choice For 1st Team All-NBA

  1. Pop quiz:
    Rank the following in order of “ballhog-iness”*:

    1. Kobe Bryant
    2. LeBron James
    3. Dwyane Wade
    4. Michael Jordan

    My definition of ballhogging – shot attempts/minute-played.

    * – Yep, I made that word up. Sounded better than “ballhogatitis” or “ballhogability”

  2. Just saw something that was puzzling.

    In the race to NBA points leader, it appears as if only regular season numbers are counted.

    For example, KAJ leads the table with 38387 pts, followed by The Mailman with 36298.

    Why aren’t playoff stats accounted for in these numbers?

    Factoring in the post-season, here’s what the top 3 looks like:

    1. KAJ – 44149
    2. Mailman – 41689
    3. MJ – 38279

    As for currently active players:
    Shaq – 33838

    As for *actually* active players:
    Kobe – 32613

  3. Completely biased and off-the-top-of-my-head guess:

    1. Jordan
    2. Kobe
    3. Lebron/Wade

  4. In ascending order of “ballhog-iness”:

    3. Dwyane Wade/Kobe Bryant – tied. 0.73 shot attempts/minute
    2. LeBron James – 0.74 shot attempts/minute
    1. Michael Jordan – 0.82 shot attempts/minute

    My definition of shot attempts/minute – (Field Goals Attempted + Free Throws Attempted)/(Minutes played)

    Isn’t that interesting? Our resident “ballhog” actually is less trigger-happy than LBJ or the GOAT (MJ)*

    * For me, the GOAT is KAJ. As many rings as MJ, but better stats/longevity.

  5. I’d love to see Kobe add another 1st Team All-NBA to his amazing resume, and I think its going to be very, very close between he and Wade.

    A 9th 1st team selection will move Kobe into a tie with Larry,Magic,Oscar and Duncan for the 8th most first team selections in NBA history. Even with a 2nd Team selection Kobe will have the 5th most total All-NBA (1st,2nd or 3rd) selections ever, which is very impressive.

    And hey, if he doesn’t get 1st Team All-NBA let’s just call it some fuel on the playoff fire.

  6. i think the factor that sets kobe apart is his uniqueness. his size and array of skills make him a problematic match-up.

    there are a lot of good slashers and crafty point guards; there’s only 1 kobe.

    i know his numbers are better, but wade doesn’t really scare me. the guy i fear is ginobili.

    can you imagine if rose wins the mvp but isn’t even 1st team all-nba? i’d take paul, wade, ginobili, and kobe over him.

  7. Taking off my Laker homer hat it’s hard for me to say that Kobe is a better player than Wade right now, or is having a better year. It would be interesting to imagine if they switched teams. I think Miami would be better because Lebron (who is better than both of them, but has zero clutch) would obviously defer to Kobe at the end of games instead of the current power struggle thats going on now.

    Wade on the Lakers I could see being slightly worse but frankly I can see them being slightly better.

    Having said all that, I think when it’s all said and done with Wade and Kobe the analogy will probably be, Wade is to Kobe what Kobe is to Jordan, which is you won’t get laughed out of the room if you say Wade>Kobe or Kobe>Jordan but you’d have to turn the argument into a pretzel to justify it.

  8. Russell was a 5 time MVP, but only a 3 time First Teamer, due to the Big Dipper. I don’t see that happening now, since no guard’s (traditional) stats overwhelm Rose to the degree that Wilt’s did to Russell.

    As far as I can tell, the last time it happened was when Dave Cowens won the MVP over Kareem. On paper, that looks like some kind of travesty there. That was during the stretch where KAJ won 3 MVPs out of 4 years, and 5 MVPs out of 7 years.

    The All-NBA Teams selections seem like the most underrated awards in basketball to me. This is in essence when the best players of the year are voted in on some kind of consensus base. Yet fans, commentators, broadcasters always go back to the “all-star caliber” player type when describing the very good players in the league. Not only does the all start game include more players (less exclusive), voting (popularity over merit), and it’s based on merely slightly more than half a season, whereas the All NBA team is based on the entire regular season.

  9. I too think Kareem is the GOAT, but I accept that the longevity argument can go both ways. Jordan was active for a shorter period of time(especially during his prime), but has accomplished nearly as much. If Kobe is going to be in the GOAT conversation, it has to be while being compared to Kareem, not MJ as I think Kobe’s career could mirror that of Kareem (if he can EVER accept being a role player, that is).

  10. the stats are so close between wade and kobe as you described so to me it comes down to winning and the intangibles. it appears at this point that the lakers will finish ahead of the heat in the league standings. both teams have had to deal with injuries (bynum/haslem/miller) so that aspect is a tie. I think where kobe really separates himself is in the intangibles. kobe is the leader/motivator and unquestioned alpha dog. I am not sure anyone can say who is the heat’s alpha dog. lebron is the better overall player but wade has a ring and lebron joined him in Miami rather than the other way around. In the end I think kobe’s intangibles separate him but of course I am biased like everyone else.

  11. Cayucos Surfer March 24, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    Is it pretty much assumed that Lebron will be occupying one of the F slots on the first team? If so i think this actually increases the odds of Kobe being selected as a G, which as your post shows, he clearly deserves.

  12. Curious, but does anyone keep track of usage rate in the ‘clutch’ situations 82 games keeps track of?

  13. I’ve always touted Kareem as the greatest, but I think it’s pretty difficult to compare guards to centers.

    Wade has some career left to pile up the accolades (as does Kobe), but as fine a player as he is, I just can’t see him ever entering the conversation of the all-time great guards. When all is said and done, I think he’ll have a Walt Frazier/Isaiah Thomas type career – a legit HOFer, a champion, at times one of the best players in the league but never THE best. Oscar, West, Magic, Jordan, Kobe…that’s your pool of all-time great guards.

  14. Also: it’s pretty incredible that Kobe is in his 15th year and still having a season that’s basically just as good as the guy everyone’s touting as the MVP.

  15. I’m biased towards Kobe of course. But Kobe’s all around game is still better than Wade in my opinion. Even if you take into consideration that he’s slowed down some this year due to mileage and injuries.

    I’ve always maintained that KAJ has been criminally overlooked in any discussion of GOAT. I get that big men and guards are hard to compare, but KAJ’s name is hardly ever brought up in GOAt discussions. He has had the most storied career and achievements of any player. In my all time draft, he would be #1 overall. He’s the guy you want to build around.

  16. By the time the NBA reached its full bloom in the media, Kareem was on the back arc of his career, so people remember him as the bald, goggled second option to Magic and forget about the guy who posted 30 and 15 for about a decade. And his game was never flashy. It was just cold-bloodedly, fundamentally unstoppable, and the perfect centerpiece to winning team basketball.

    I always sum up the argument for Kareem as the GOAT with this fact: He won the Finals MVP 14 years apart (’71, ’85). That’s not gonna happen again any time soon.

  17. MJ’s legacy is placed upon an untouchable pedestal. People will tout MJ as the GOAT for no other reason than because that is the popular consensus.

    I would take Kareem or Russell before Jordan.

  18. Chownoir @ 15 -“In my all time draft, he would be #1 overall. (KAJ)’s the guy you want to build around.”

    Yes, my feelings exactly. No doubt.

    Kobe first team NBA? Sure, works for me. But I’d rather have him win the Finals MVP award again!

  19. Kareem’s the best ever. Jordan was the product of an unprecedented Nike/NBA on NBC hype machine that blossomed on the heels of earlier TV-friendly stars like Magic, Bird and Doctor J.

    A whole generation of people now in their 30s or late 20s was basically brainwashed: “Jordan is the best ever. Jordan is the best ever. Jordan is the best ever.” The Bugs Bunny ads, catchy Gatorade jingles and constant TV lap dances from his buddy Ahmad further fueled the myth. But it’s just better marketing in a bigger media era, behind a guy who was generally more likable on his worst day than Kareem was on his best.

    As Flava Flav said, “Don’t believe the hype.”

  20. On 82games clutch stats, Kobe currently is averaging 8 assists per 48 minutes. He is the highest non-point guard in that category.

    What a ballhog.

  21. Sorry to go Back to Back here, but if this isn’t the definition of irony…

    ESPN.com currently has a story that says at Wednesday’s practice, Celtics assistant coach Kevin Eastman, while speaking about Shaq’s injury said, “But you have to win in spite of, not lose because of — does that make sense? You win in spite of what’s going on with your team. You don’t say, ‘Well, we’re not winning because of it.’ As a coaching staff, we’re telling our players, whatever predicament is thrown at us, we just have to deal with it and fight our way through it. Figure it out rather than use it as an excuse. You can’t advance if you live off of excuses.”

    Yet here was Ol’ Doc last summer: “They still have not beaten our starting five. Our starting five against the Lakers starting five has a ring.”

    Sure, not having Bynum at all and Ariza at 100 percent in 2008 didn’t affect that series at all. Because in Doc’s feeble mind, apparently neither Bynum nor Ariza were ever starters on a Lakers championship team.

  22. Russell revolutionized defense in his day and would still be very good today, but I would posit that both Kareem and Wilt would be simply dominant today. Kareem was both graceful and had footwork like Olajuwon at 7’1″, while Wilt was such a supreme all round athlete, with such long arms and closer to 7’3″ than 7’1″ that he would simply frustrate Shaq.

    You have to give Russell his due, but you also have to realize that the Celtics simply dominated the talent pool from the late 50’s through the 60’s – much like the Lakers do today, but more so. Russell’s genius was that he focused on and changed defense in such a way that all the other team members could let their offensive skills blossom.

  23. To me, MVP does not equate to an absolute scale of “best”. So, an MVP could easily not be on the First Team, as long as he is of the most value to his team.

    Now with that assumption out of the way, yes, Kobe makes the First Team with Wade, and Rose is on the Second Team.

  24. Personally, I don’t really look at stats when it comes to Kobe. This isn’t his best season. Age and injuries are finally catching up. He shoots with hands that have become gnarled and arthritic, lifts off carved-up knees. It’s a wonder he’s still on the court. Still, he’s the fiercest competitor in the game, bar none. He’s the ultimate game-changer. Ask any coach in the league – “who’s the one guy you don’t want to be facing in the last couple minutes of a game, especially when he’s pissed off and dialed in?” Easy answer and if there’s any doubt, just watch game footage – there’s always that bread-and-butter camera shot. Kobe makes impossible shot, Kobe juts out jaw and runs back up court, camera pans to opposing coach who shuts his eyes and shakes his head, immediately followed by a knowing comment from whoever’s doing color for the broadcast. That’s money. And a first-team guard.

  25. Craig,
    If you wanna keep believing that Kareem would be dominant today then don’t look at his measurements. He was 7-3 and only 235 lbs. He would be giving 60 lbs to a guy like Bynum. You could try and play him at PF I guess. And don’t talk about Russell, he was only 6-9 and just as skinny. He had no offensive game against 6-6 white guys shooting only 44 percent… How bad would he be against today’s athlete?

  26. I’d just like to take a moment and appreciate what we’ve been able to enjoy with this Lakers team. To provide some perspective, here’s an except from a FB&G post from October, 2005:

    Getting the ball to Kwame and Mihm, must be a priority, forcing the double team to happen and therefore allowing Kobe to have more room (instead of shooting with 2 guys around him with 0.5secs of the shot clock left). This is why a defensive player at PG can work with this offense.

    Like Kurt said, if Smush slows down the star PG’s of this league, then he will be doing his job, as he only must push the ball upcourt and get it down-low.


    Wow, that seems like a distant (and horrible) memory….

  27. Nice one from the archives lil’ pau!

    “Kwame and Mihm…a priority” ?
    “Smush…doing his job” ??

    Yeesh. We’ve come a long way, baby.

  28. If 24-1 happens,KB would definitely deserve the season MVP.

  29. If this is MJ that we are talking, and he is having stats similar to Kobe then the MVP would be a landslide for him. However, since we are talking of Kobe we are still debating whether he would make the 1st Nba Team. This awards, NBA all team, Regular Season MVP, 6TH MAN, Most Improved has been tainted by Politics and business and as such the award have become less credible.

    People have to bear in mind that Kobe is playing on his 15th season and yet his effectiveness has been on the same level as he was on his younger years. Over the years Kobe haters have compared him and ranked him below the likes of Iverson, S.Nash, Vince Carter, TMac, B.Roy, C.Paul but still Kobe has surpassed this players and has maintained his stature as one of the best in the NBA. Year after year he is in the MVP conversation but the contenders have always changed.

  30. 24-1 does have a nice numeric meaning to it to, doesn’t it?

  31. You can’t accurately compare players from different time periods, so you need to look at who was the most dominant relative to his peers.

    That would be WIlt; although you could make a reasonable argument for Russell because of the titles.

  32. Aaron,
    You really, really didn’t see Kareem play in his prime.
    A) The people he played against were not slouches.
    B) He was definitely a much tougher Pau Gasol, with longer arms and a simply unblockable shot.
    C) The rules were much more amenable to rough play and he was able to survive and excel.

    Do you actually think the players did not get good until Magic and Bird because we don’t have ESPN highlights of them?

    Kareem did dominate in the 80’s and won a finals MVP in the late 80’s.

    Kareem did play several years against Wilt Chamberlain and was the closest thing to a player approaching Wilt and besting him personally, 1-on-1. Kareem did play against Bob Lanier, Nate Thurmond, Robert Parish, Moses Malone, Hakeem Olajuwon, Patrick Ewing, Willis Reed. I know I have forgotten a couple, but these people were not pushovers and represent some of the best centers ever to play the game.

    In today’s game, with very few back-to-the-basket centers, you actually think that Kareem wouldn’t thrive and often dominate?

    Oh, in his younger years he could really run the floor when necessary.

    He was one of the most fundamentally sound players ever to play the game and his conditioning was second to none and approached what is done today.

  33. P.S.
    I must admit I am biased. I have watched Kareem since he was a freshman at UCLA. However, I also followed Wilt from the time he was a Globetrotter and do understand his track-and-field background also.

  34. Finally,
    Russell made his bones on defense, not offense. He actually changed the game. He would have a much tougher time today, but he was also very fundamentally sound. Incidentally, when there are 3-4 good shooters on a team today, what they need is an excellent defensive presence, not more points – Bill Russell was that presence. Where Bill Russell would frustrate a Shaq today is with guild and athletic flexibility – as in he would not be able to deny Shaq position, but he would alter the ball as Shaq was trying to dunk or he would pull-the-chair on Shaq occasionally. Bill was smart, knew where all of his teammates and opponents were on the floor (like a great point guard), and would rarely do the same thing two times in a row.

  35. found a pretty cool little stat about kobe – check out the players drafted before he was in ’96:
    http://bit.ly/e9r6EC

  36. When comparing players from different eras (which is a hypothetical exercise, at best) one thing that is constantly brought up is modern athleticism.

    Well, you have to give the old time athletes the benefit of the doubt in some ways… How much bigger and stronger would Russell have been with the constant training and good nutrition he would have received as a modern talent? How much better would his defense have been with today’s level of film usage and scouting?

    In fact, one of the things that separated the great players from the rest was their tremendous durability. Durability (as we all know from watching Bynum in the last three seasons) is a very important facet of athletic talent.

    I think that the top performers from previous eras would still be among the top performers of the modern age.

    Kareem is certainly in the discussion of GOAT. In my opinion, Wilt should not be. You compete at the NBA level to win championships. For all his tremendous talent, Chamberlain simply did not do that.

    And the man stopping him from doing so, for the most part, was Russell, who in my opinion is the GOAT.

    Also, Kobe probably won’t make 1st Team this season, because the writers seem to enjoy elevating others above him. (See: MVP, Steve Nash)

  37. If a 6’6″ Chuck Hayes can be an effective post defender today, there’s no doubt Bill Russell would be a game-changer.

  38. Wes Unseld was pretty good at 6’7″ against giants in his day.

    Championships is more a factor of team, rather than individual. In the 60’s the Celtics controlled much more than their share of the talent, therefore their players won more championships. Yes, the individuals were great, but certainly no better than West, Baylor, Robertson, or Chamberlain. Our obsession with championships is understandable, but it shortchanges many good players (see: Karl Malone or Charles Barkley or Patrick Ewing or…).

  39. Kareem was 7-2 and 275 lbs. I don’t know what’s going on with Basketball-Reference or any of those other sites, but when he was introduced before games by Chicky Baby or Lawrence Tantor, that was his announced weight. Caldwell Jones looked like a toothpick next to Kareem, and he was 7-0 and about 220 lbs. On the first day Kareem set foot in the NBA, he was already the best player in the league. During the Laker Showtime era, he was age 33 to age 42. When he was in his prime, he was simply incredible. In 1985, when he was 38, he simply destroyed the Celtic front line in the NBA Finals, in what will always be the most important NBA Championship the Lakers ever won.

  40. Dude,
    He can be announced as 6-3 and Mongolian but the man was 235 lbs and is listed so everywhere including on the last classic Lakers/Sixers Finals game on FSN. When you see old footage of him he looks more like 225 soaken wet. This is no knock on older players. But NBA athletes have evolved in almost every way.

  41. And Craig is correct, Chamoionships has more to do with your teammates than with yourself. Kobe was much better five years ago but wasn’t even making the playoffs. Then the Lakers bring in Bynum (age), Gasol, and Artest and championships galore. Imagine Kobe was stuck with a bad franchise and he never played with Shaq, Bynum, Gasol, Odom, or Artest? He would be still the second best player of all time in my estimation but wouldnt even be considered in the top 40 because he wouldn’t have won a championship.

  42. I love all the comments on this thread. I enjoy and respect each and every time Kobe suits up in the Forum Blue & Gold. I also am old enough to remember some of Kareem when he was still in his prime. For all the hoopla that the media throws Jordan’s way (and believe me, it was deserved at the time), Kareem’s body of work speaks for itself. Longevity can’t be discounted and should be embraced in the mythical GOAT discussion.

    We Laker fans have been truly blessed with an abundance of truly phenomenal players who just have that special “it.” The list of players includes a Who’s Who of many of the games’ most influential figures. Each time we watch #24, we are watching history in the making. I’m sure that the most ardent Heat fans feel the same about Wade that we feel about Kobe, however when you factor in the additional playoff battles that Kobe has had, I would go with Kobe. He’s doing just as much with age, injuries, and loss of burst-speed going against him.

  43. I guess we’re both right. In his years with Milwaukee and his initial years with the Lakers, he weighed 225 to 235 lbs. He didn’t bulk up until the mid-1980s, when he got up to 265 lbs. He said he needed to bulk up to continue being effective into his late 30s and early 40s.

  44. KAJ was a beast long before the term came into use.

    He was unstoppable on single coverage even at age 40.

    I think he was the first player to log 20 seasons as well.

  45. In his prime, Kareem, as an athletic specimen, must have been simply incredible. I’m only 32 so I wasn’t alive to see it in person but I remember and UCLA Bruins will remember the picture of Kareem (then big Lew) that hangs in Wooden Center where he is blocking a shot (or grabbing a board, not sure). His head above the rim and shoulder above the backboard.

    I think he could have played with anyone EVER. The fact that he dominated the Celts at 38 in 1985 is even more astonishing (which I do have memories of).

  46. “He said he needed to bulk up to continue being effective into his late 30s and early 40s.”

    I think that statement says it all. Kareem was effective at less weight in his younger years because he was younger and more agile. As he got less agile he needed more weight.

    Aaron, believe me there were plenty of words written in 1969 about how Kareem would get dominated and destroyed by Wilt because he was too light. It didn’t work out that way. Both players were able to play their game and neither was able to continually dominate the other. Think of a taller, longer armed, more aggressive, better shooting Pau and you have Kareem in his prime. The aggression came to the fore when he actively went up to block shots. He was criticized for not being a rebounder because he wasn’t pulling down 20+ boards a game. Today he would be complimented for his rebounding with his numbers. All this at about 235. Sorry Aaron, this is one you have to have experienced to understand and statistics just don’t do the game justice here.

  47. I’m only thirty years old. So I wasn’t able to watch Kareem live and in his prime. I couldnt experience it. No doubt. All I do is watch every hardwood classic game I can on NBA TV. it of course isn’t the same as watching in HD.

  48. Interesting read about Kobe almost being drafted by the Nets.

    http://rivals.yahoo.com/ncaa/basketball/news?slug=dw-wetzel_game_changing_decision_032411

    I know hindsight is 20/20. Still I am amazed at some of the players that were picked before Kobe. We Laker fans remember Samaki Walker. He was taken before Kobe. And I had completely forgotten about Todd Fuller.

    To echo Lil Pau’s sentiments, we Laker fans should appreciate the good fortune the team has had all these years. It is truly amazing. Sometimes we need to take a page out of Phil’s book of Zen and just be in the moment. Let’s relish these good Lakers times.

  49. Jerry West went out on a limb when he risked so much to acquire Kobe. It’s been said before, but his personnel moves as a GM reflected the same absence of fear-of-failure that his playing days performances did.

    Oh, and Kobe doesn’t seem to be too worried about failing either.

  50. Though, if reports are to be believed, West was opposed to the drafting of Magic, looking instead to draft Moncrief.

  51. If we could go back in time and grab Kareem from any point when he was 22 to his early 30s and then somehow drop him into the NBA today, he’d be the best center in the league right now. He was that skilled.

  52. Chris J: I absolutely believe that, too. Who today has the size and skill to prevent him from doing exactly what he did to the league 35 years ago?

    There’s not many stars from that era that I think could still dominate in the modern game.

  53. Kareem for GOAT, ok, sure…I disagree, but not to such an extent that I feel the conversation isn’t legitimate.

    But Russell? No. This stuff about Jordan being the product of mere hype is so confounding and D-U-M-B I don’t even know what to say. The fact of the matter is, he never lost a Finals. He was never less than the clear MVP of every Finals series he played in. He never choked in a Finals or playoff series. He provided some of the game’s most important and iconic moments during his career and he completely revolutionized the SG position in a way no one has before or since. Without Jordan there is no Kobe, no Lebron, no D-Wade, etc.

    Jordan would have DOMINATED the league in Kareem’s day just like he dominated it in his own. Does anyone here seriously think the likes of Jerry West (great as he was) would have been able to do anything about Jordan? And on the reverse side, Jordan would likely have shut down West. If Jordan was playing today, in his prime, he would make a fool of every SG in the league not named Kobe.

    Whether there even is such a thing as “GOAT” in a game that features five different positions required to do different things is entirely subjective–but if there’s an all-time GOAT starting five: Jordan is the starting SG.

    This discussion is hardly different than when members of the older generation claim things were generally better in their day- it’s a nostalgic white-wash of the past and it’s largely b.s.

    I don’t watch NBA on NBC commercials from the 80’s, or McDonald’s commercials, or Space Jam–I watch the games and the games don’t lie. Jordan was unstoppable.