Kobe Bryant Is Not the Wizard of Oz

He has been the most polarizing figure in the NBA for over a decade.

His fans point to his prolific scoring ability (from his run of 40+ pt games to his 81-point masterpiece in Toronto), his willingness to take (and make) game-winning shots no matter the situation and most importantly, his rings.

His detractors point to his nearly legendary selfishness (from pushing Shaq out of LA to make it "his team" to consistently leading the league in usage rating despite playing with multiple All-Stars), his tendency to jack up shots heedlessly and the inability of his team's to win anything meaningful without a Hall of Fame level seven-footer.

There's a reason the Lakers are always playing on Christmas Day, the league's biggest regular season showcase.  Everyone has an opinion about Kobe.

** I use my mother, a Filipino immigrant in her 60's, as a barometer of how famous someone is.  She knows about two NBA players—Kobe and LeBron—and two rappers—Lil' Wayne and Kanye West. **

With the Lakers showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon, there's no question what the NBA's dominant storyline will be over the next few years: will Kobe pass MJ and get seven rings?  And if he does, can we ask the most "blasphemous" question of all?

But why should his team's success (or lack of it) affect our perception of Kobe as a player after 15 NBA seasons and over 1,000 games?  We already know everything we need to know about him as a basketball player.

He's a 6'6" perimeter player with the ability to run a team like a point guard, score like a shooting guard and post-up like a small forward.  In his prime, he was an All-NBA level defender of all three perimeter positions.  

There aren't any holes in his game.  He can do anything an aging 6'6", 200 guard can do on a basketball court—shoot, dribble, pass, run the pick and roll, post-up and ...

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