Kobe Bryant: Why a Sixth Championship Means Everything Now

Ever since Kobe Bryant stepped into a Lakers uniform, he has been defined by one thing: chasing greatness.

It drove him to take those last shots against Utah in the playoffs as a rookie. He famously air-balled them, but his guts impressed his veteran teammates and foreshadowed his actions to come.

It also drove him to challenge Michael Jordan as a first-time All-Star starter, make his mark on the first Lakers three-peat and resurrect his career/image after his sexual assault scandal.

Kobe said it best last season after he shot extra baskets for an hour after losing to the Miami Heat: He wants what all men want, except he wants it more. That’s why a sixth world championship means everything to him now.

It’s the only goal left on Bryant’s mental checklist. He’ll reach 30,000 points at the end of next season (assuming we have one) or the start of 2012-13. He’s proven himself as an MVP and a champion with and without Shaquille O’Neal. He’s the greatest player to wear a Lakers uniform besides Magic Johnson and one of the most clutch players in recent NBA history.

Six rings is the NBA version of the modern holy grail. Since Bill Russell’s 11 rings will never be matched, this is what most players strive for as championship immortality. It means the same number as Michael Jordan—the man Bryant has been chasing since he entered the league.

As much as Kobe wanted the fifth ring to tie Magic Johnson and pass Shaquille O’Neal, he wants No. 6 to gain entry into an exclusive club that includes Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Scottie Pippen and, most importantly, His Airness. 

Will it mean he passes Michael as the greatest player? No, but it’s one less arguing point in their for fans who won’t stop with the comparisons.

Six rings also mean unquestioned status as one of the 10 best players in the game. He’s already th...

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