Kobe Bryant: Underestimated, Overrated and Still Arguably the NBA’s Top Player

Kobe Bryant is aging, he's probably lost a step, he's not as explosive and he likely won't get you 81 points in a game.

Those are just some of the terms that have been used to describe Bryant's demise.

With those sentiments permeating through the NBA landscape, it's easy to assume that Bryant no longer resides among the NBA's top players—except his numbers and his impact suggests the opposite.

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose are considered the NBA's top young players and front-runners in the MVP discussion, but does Bryant no longer reside among that group of elite players?

What has either of the above-mentioned players done that would lead a person to assume they have surpassed Bryant as a player this season?

Recently, there have been numerous articles that have trumpheted Bryant's decline and there was even one that espoused the opinion that a recent Lakers road win over Oklahoma City had nothing to do with Bryant.

The writer failed to mention that Bryant scored 17 points, collected seven assists and held Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook to four points after halftime, but such is the life when you're the player everyone loves to hate.

Criticism of Bryant and his game has to be the longest running commentary in the NBA today, which is a little strange considering how Bryant continues to excel despite the negativity.

This was supposed to be the year that Bryant's game would visibly decline, but instead he remains one of the top five scorers in the NBA, with more than 25 points per game, and his Lakers have a very good chance of returning to the NBA Finals for a fourth consecutive year.

But it seems that the more successful Bryant is, the more he is demonized and what other current player has enjoyed as much individual and team success as Bryant?

Five NBA championships, over 27,000 career point...

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