Kobe Bryant: Do Kobe’s Fans Really Believe He Is Still the NBA’s Top Player?

ESPN has been generating quite a bit of discussion with it's recent ranking of the NBA's top 500 players, and in the opinion of many Los Angeles Lakers fans, star guard Kobe Bryant's placement at seventh on the list is a crime.

In an article I recently posted concerning Bryant's ranking, several commentors came to Kobe's defense, arguing that the Lakers star definitely deserves a spot in the top five, and there were a few who even suggested Bryant was still the best player in the NBA.

Come again?

I'm actually not too surprised by ESPN's ranking of Bryant, since it can be argued that each of the players listed above him were better players at the end of the 2010-11 regular season.

But I am surprised that any fan of the Lakers or Kobe can say that he is still hands-down the NBA's top player while keeping a straight face.

Don't get me wrong, Bryant remains my favorite player on my favorite team, but that doesn't super-cede the need to inject a little reality into the NBA's top player discussion.

And the first reality is Bryant's 33 years of age, which figures in even more significantly when you consider that Kobe entered the NBA at the ripe old age of 17.

Bryant has endured 16-plus years of NBA warfare when you include the postseason, and in the past few seasons the, battle scars have become increasingly more visible.

Some Lakers fans point to Bryant's injuries last season to explain his mediocre showing in the playoffs, but Kobe has reached the point in his career where each month brings the potential for a new ailment.

Not to mention the recovery time for injuries increases with age, and there are several nagging issues like Bryant's knee and his finger which will likely trouble him until he retires.

Playing at an elite level on the other side of 30 with a gimpy knee and mangled finger is one thing, but competing for the mythical ti...

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