Kobe Bryant: How Does Series Sweep to Mavericks Affect His Legacy?

With the Los Angeles Lakers’ three-peat aspirations crashing down in flames, one of the many story lines that will undoubtedly be beaten like a dead horse over the upcoming days, weeks and months is Kobe Bryant’s legacy. 

But let me take a crack at it while the wound is still fresh. 

Unable, at least for now, to tie Michael Jordan’s six championships, pass Magic Johnson’s five or even outplay Dirk Nowitzki and his zero, how will this debacle of a postseason affect our appreciation of Kobe’s career? 

On a self-admitted quest to become the GOAT (Greatest of All Time), Kobe has hit a roadblock. But what exactly are the implications? 

First, let me say this: Legacy is a tricky thing to analyze and evaluate, as it is purely subjective. Sorry, sabermetrics geeks, but there is no way to quantify opinion and judgment. 

There may be general consensus, but there is no right or wrong. 

For example, intense debates rage between proponents of Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell, Karl Malone and Tim Duncan. Stat gurus love the Stilt and the Mailman, while title guys favor Russell and Duncan. 

Furthermore, there are factors besides actual performance that impact legacy. 

Do I think Jordan is unequivocally the greatest player of all-time? Definitely (in fact, this may be one of the few almost unanimous stances in sports).

But I also believe that the perception of MJ’s greatness was influenced and amplified by the media maelstrom that surrounded his NBA era. His Airness profited considerably from an explosion of available basketball-related media—from frequent TV broadcasts to endorsement advertisements to the Internet boom to trading cards—as his exploits were more readily accessible to the public than his predecessors’. 

Another case in point: Every basketball fan I kn...

About the Author