Kobe Bryant: Lack of a Rival Has Robbed Fans of Lakers Star’s True Greatness

Like NBA legend Michael Jordan, Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant hasn't had the pleasure of being challenged by a fierce rival throughout his career.

This lack of a real rival has made Bryant find the competitive fire to win within himself, but basketball fans are still left to wonder what kind of moments could have been seen if Bryant had a real rival competing for championships with him.

Bryant admitted on Friday that he hasn't had a rival throughout his 16-year career, via ESPN:

I didn't have one. ... I get up for everybody just the same, to be honest. It's hard for me to turn my meter up any higher than it normally is.

It's really unfortunate that the NBA has been void of true one-on-one rivalries since Larry Bird and the Celtics were consistently battling Magic Johnson and the Lakers for basketball supremacy in the 1980s.

The games between Bird and Magic were so amazing because it was as much a personal battle as it was winning the game. These incredibly fierce competitors would look at the box scores and try to best the other each night.

Since Magic's Lakers usually played after Bird since they're on the West Coast, Magic would look at the box score for the Boston game, and if Bird got a triple-double, Magic would be motivated to go out and achieve his own triple-double.

No one on the Detroit Pistons, New York Knicks, Indiana Pacers, Orlando Magic or Cleveland Cavaliers was ever a threat to Jordan's title march in the 1990s when he was in the prime of his career. Penny Hardaway might been a real rival for Jordan, but the prime of the Magic star's career was harshly robbed from him thanks to a multitude of difficult injuries.

In Bryant's case, the most likely rivals for him either played at a different position or came into the league too late in the Lakers star's career to be considered a real rival.

Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs wa...

About the Author