Can Kobe Bryant Ever Earn the Same Level of Respect As Magic and Jerry West?

Even if Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant finishes his career as the best Laker of all time statistically, he is fighting an uphill battle to garner the same role in terms of perception.

Bryant is unquestionably in the argument due to his five career championships and the fact that he is the franchise's all-time leading scorer, but can he ever escape the notion that he will always be below Magic Johnson and Jerry West?

Magic and West are arguably the two most loved Lakers of all time, and each player has established a legacy that will likely last forever.

Magic is considered to be the greatest point guard of all time, and he shares with Bryant the title of most championships won with five as a Laker.

West was only able to win one NBA title in his career but he was the franchise's career points leader until Bryant recently passed him, and West's image as the NBA logo will live on forever.

Those are pretty high standards to live up to, and not only is Bryant faced with the dilemma of conquering the legend of those two players, but he must also find a way to defeat his polarizing nature.

Magic and West were loved by not only Lakers' fans, but by most observers who had any real interest in the game of professional basketball.

Magic, along with Larry Bird is credited with renewing interest in the NBA during a time when the league's popularity was at an all-time low, and his charismatic personality was infectious.

West may not have had Magic's personality traits, but he won over the hearts of fans with his competitive nature, and the ability to leave his soul on the floor each and every night.

Bryant doesn't share the same warm qualities as West and Magic. Either you love Bryant or you hate him, and those who choose the latter have no problem chiming in with their opinion on where he stands in Lakers' history.

It's easy to distinguis...

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