The NBA: No Rival?

Kobe Bryant is in the homestretch of his career, but
he's just starting his journey into the realm of
the all-time greatest.

*Unless otherwise specified, all images are from the Associated Press.

"I've outgrown them all, from A.I. (Allen Iverson) when I first came in to (Tracy) McGrady to Vince Carter and so forth and so on." – Kobe Bryant talking about his perceived rivals.

Is Kobe just being arrogant here?

Or is he just being Kobe?

Some might argue that there’s no difference between being arrogant and being Kobe, but, after a quick look at his accomplishments, it’s very difficult to argue with what he is saying.

In the same interview where the aforementioned quote comes from, Kobe goes on to say that guys like Dwyane Wade are “too young” to be his rivals, and he implies that Magic and Michael should be the ones considered his “peers.”

Again, it sounds like Kobe might be drunk on hubris.

And yet, I don’t believe anybody can really dispute him.

He has become that good. His basketball CV has become comparable to the all-time greats.

And though him thinking that guys like Wade are “too young” may not really be sound (Wade is just 3 years Kobe’s junior, but Wade did enter the NBA long after Kobe was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets), this generation’s brightest stars do have a long way to go before they can be mentioned alongside Kobe, Magic, and Michael in an all-time discussion.

The thing that is so compelling about Kobe, beyond the stats and trophies that have decorated his stint, is that he has seemingly transcended generations of stars much like Magic, Michael, Larry Bird, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and the late Wilt Chamberlain did in their own careers. 

Case in point: MJ showcased his talent against Magic, Bird and Isiah Thomas in the 80s, he burned Clyde Drexler, Charles Barkley, and Patrick Ewing in the early 90s, and then frustrated Shawn Kemp, Karl Malone, John Stockton, and Reggie Miller in the last few years of the 20th century. Heck, Kobe was already playing in the NBA when Jordan won his last two titles. 

The truly great ones transcend and bridge generations.

And if that is THE barometer, then perhaps Kobe IS right.

Maybe he doesn’t have any rivals among the current crop of players after all.

That’s not to say guys like Wade, LeBron, Rose, Dwight, or even Brian Scalabrine (no, really!), won’t ever have the chance to join that all-time conversation, but RIGHT NOW, the way things are, Kobe is dead on.

He has no rival.

After the JUMP, key stat-stuffers for today’s games:

ATL over OKC, 97-90
Josh Smith scored 30 points and pulled down 12 rebounds, helping Atlanta beat Oklahoma City. Zaza Pachulia also had a double-double with 10 points and 14 rebounds for the Hawks, who went 3-1 on a four-game homestand. Kevin Durant ended with 35 points and eight boards for the Thunder, who had a seven-game winning streak snapped. Russell Westbrook tallied 25 points. 

ORL over MIL, 114-98
Dwight Howard had 28 points and 14 rebounds as Orlando beat Milwaukee for the fourth time in 22 days. The Magic have won seven in a row against Milwaukee and 17 of the last 20 in the series. Jason Richardson added 18 points in the latest win while Hedo Turkoglu scored 16 with 9 assists and Ryan Anderson also had 16 points. The Bucks are probably glad they won't have to see Orlando for the rest of the season. 

WAS over CLE, 101-98
Jordan Crawford scored a game-high 31 points and Washington snapped a six-game losing streak with a win over Cleveland. John Wall filled the stat sheet with 24 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists, while Roger Mason Jr. added 11 points off the bench for the Wizards, who had lost four straight at home entering the game. Cleveland has now dropped five straight overall and four straight on the road. 

MEM over DET, 100-83
Marc Gasol scored 17 points and pulled down 9 rebounds to lead seven Grizzlies in double figures, and Memphis exploded for a 31-point fourth quarter to defeat Detroit. Mike Conley contributed a double-double with 10 points and 12 assists, O.J. Mayo netted 17 points off the bench, Marreese Speights added 16, and Rudy Gay poured in 15 for the Grizzlies, who have won four straight and eight of nine. 

IND over NOH, 102-84
Danny Granger scored 20 points, David West had 14 with 13 rebounds and Indiana led by as many as 30 on the way to a win over New Orleans. The Pacers had six players score in double digits and pushed their season-high winning streak to six games. Darren Collison added 13 points, Lou Amundson and Paul George had 11 apiece and George Hill scored 10 in the victory. The banged-up and weary Hornets were led by Jarrett Jack's 18 points and 15 from Marco Belinelli. 

DAL over UTA, 102-96
Dirk Nowitzki scored 40 points and Jason Terry added 22 as Dallas held off Utah to snap a season-high four-game losing streak. Prior to the game, the Mavericks recalled forward Lamar Odom from the Texas Legends of the NBA Development League. Odom, who had missed Dallas' last four games due to a family matter, was assigned to the Legends Friday, but did not see any action with the team. He had nine points in 18 minutes of court time. 

MIN over POR, 122-110
Kevin Love finished with 42 points, one off a career-high, in helping Minnesota to a triumph over Portland, snapping a 16-game skid vs. the Trail Blazers. Love, who played at Lake Oswego High School, about 20 minutes outside Portland, went 15-of-27 from the field, including 5-of-8 from beyond the arc. The All-Star also had 10 rebounds, as Minnesota beat the Blazers for the first time since March 25, 2007. 

Super Scorers (Top scorers of the night!)
Kevin Love (MIN) – 42
Dirk Nowitzki (DAL) – 40
Kevin Durant (OKC) – 35
Jordan Crawford (WAS) – 31
Josh Smith (ATL) – 30  

Kevin Love burned the Blazers for 42 big points.

Ragin’ Rebounders (Top rebounders of the night!)
Dwight Howard (ORL), Zaza Pachulia (ATL), & Gerald Wallace (POR) – 14 

Dynamic Dishers (Top playmakers of the night!)
Mike Conley (MEM) & Ricky Rubio (MIN) – 12
Jameer Nelson (ORL) – 10 

Mike Conley continues to help Memphis hold on
to a possible playoff spot.
(image from Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Terrific Thieves (Top thieves of the night!)
Ryan Anderson (ORL), Paul George (IND), & Gerald Wallace (POR) – 5 

Boomin’ Blockers (Top blockers of the night!)
Javale McGee (WAS) – 4
Segre Ibaka (OKC), Lamar Odom (DAL), & Cole Aldrich (OKC) – 3 

Sharpshooters (Top 3-point shooters of the night!)
Kevin Love (MIN) & Jordan Crawford (WAS) – 5
OJ Mayo (MEM), Danny Granger (IND), & Chris Duhon (ORL) – 4 

March 3, 2012 First Five
C – Dirk Nowitzki (DAL) – 40pts, 6rebs, 3 treys, 1stl
F – Kevin Love (MIN) – 42pts, 10rebs, 5 treys, 4asts, 1stl
F – Antawn Jamison (CLE) – 29pts, 9rebs, 5asts, 4stls, 2blks
G – Gerald Wallace (POR) – 25pts, 14rebs, 5stls, 3asts
G – Jordan Crawford (WAS) – 31pts, 5 treys, 3rebs, 3asts, 1stl

Dirk Nowitzki turned back time with 40
points against the Jazz.
Honorable Mention:
Kevin Durant (OKC) – 35pts, 8rebs, 3stls, 3 treys, 2asts, 1blk
Josh Smith (ATL) – 30pts, 12rebs, 4asts, 1stl, 1blk
Dwight Howard (ORL) – 28pts, 14rebs, 4stls, 1blk

Daily Zap:

*Game recaps were compiled and compressed from the Sports Network.

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1 Comment

He's right. He can only be compared to the players from before. That's part of the reason why he has 5 rings. If he was playing in the early 90's he'd have plenty of rivals. I can't believe I thought T-Mac was a worthy competitor to Bryant.