2011 NBA Season: Is Kobe Bryant’s Legacy Doomed To Michael Jordan’s Shadow?

As a fan of NBA basketball, I believe myself incredibly lucky to have lived through, and witnessed, the entirety of Kobe Bryant's career. 

The evolution of media and the 24-hour news cycle has afforded the layperson an unnervingly in-depth look at athletes and entertainers. 

One athlete whose career began in the burgeoning of the information age, and persists to this day to define his generation, is Kobe Bryant—who will live on as one of the most fascinating NBA players to grace the hardwood.

Not since the days of a racially divided America has there been a more polarizing player in the history of the NBA.

His work ethic is fawned upon by Laker fans and those able to perceive it.

His seeming inability to coalesce with his teammates, a point critics seem to have belabored, and not without reason.

2009 and 2010 were the years of Kobe Bryant. Hardcore pundits, and those looking for an argument against Bryant, will point to his atrocious performance in Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals: 6-24. The league's allegedly most "clutch" player (a misconception, by the way; Carmelo Anthony is statistically the most clutch player in the NBA) failed to gather the gumption to will his team to victory. 

What the box score won't show is that Bryant tried his absolute best to push his team to victory. If you remember Game 7 (I tried to push it out of my mind as an admitted Celtics fan) it was all on the line; Kobe deferred to his teammates in the closing half and drew fouls, going an (admittedly questionable) 11-15 from the charity stripe.

If it weren't for 2009 and 2010, Bryant's career might as well have been in the pipes.  Casual fans would have wrote him off as Shaq's second banana, too selfish to share the ball, too egotistical and caught up in his own perception of greatness to bring his team back to the Larry O'Brien trophy. 


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