How Will Lean LA Lakers Years Affect Kobe Bryant’s Legacy?

Kobe Bryant’s legacy - including whether he'll be remembered as the greatest player in the storied history of the Los Angeles Lakers - could take an interesting turn during the franchise's upcoming rebuild.

He has long been in the discussion for greatest Laker of all time with Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. While Abdul-Jabbar is perhaps the greatest player in the history of basketball, the first six years of Abdul-Jabbar’s career were spent with the Milwaukee Bucks.

That does not necessarily disqualify Abdul-Jabbar from the Lakers discussion, but it allows Johnson to hold a slight edge. Johnson immediately took over Los Angeles as a rookie by helping the Lakers win a title in 1979-80.

What’s more, Johnson was at the heart of it all when the Purple and Gold finally vanquished a Boston Celtics team in the 1985 NBA Finals after years of torment.

Also, Johnson and Larry Bird saved the NBA by giving basketball the ultimate rivalry, according to celebrated writer Jack McCallum of Sports Illustrated.

Just remember, it was Johnson who prevailed, and that, coupled with his five titles, made him in the minds of many the greatest Laker ever. Johnson is Bryant’s biggest adversary, but the future Hall of Fame 2-guard has a fairly compelling set of accolades as well.

Bryant is one of the most successful players of his generation by virtue of his five championship rings, league MVP trophy and two Finals MVPs. In addition, he’s taken the All-Star Game MVP award home on four occasions.

An argument could be made that Bryant has set the standard of excellence for current superstars. However, it’s entirely possible L.A.’s projected rebuild might take away some of his shine, especially in comparison to Johnson and Abdul-Jabbar.

Prior to discussing what lies ahead, let’s take a moment to reflect on the impacts of this se...

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