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With this year’s disappointing comeback and his career seemingly coming to an end, the question begs: Is Kobe Bryant a Legend?

Kobe Bryant is widely considered to be one of, if not the best, basketball player’s of this generation. He’s had an illustrious career that has included multiple awards and championships. But the question remains: Is Kobe a legend? Perhaps the question should be: Will Kobe be remembered as a legend? Maybe he will and maybe he won’t. Maybe he’ll just be remembered as a great player, but one that just fell short of legendary status. In any case, here’s an argument for and against the idea that Kobe is a legend.

Yes, He’s a Legend!

Kobe Bryant’s accomplishments over the years automatically put him in the running for legendary status. His resume includes one regular season MVP award, two NBA Finals MVP awards, and five NBA championship rings. Add that to the fact that he’s a two-time scoring champion, a dunk contest champion, and one of the top scorers in history and you’ll see that he’s had quite an impressive career. If you were to compare Kobe’s accolades side by side with any other NBA great, you’d find that they measure up very well. In fact, other than LeBron James, no other current NBA player can measure up Bryant’s career as far as awards are concerned. On top of that, Kobe is consistently one of the top players in the NBA in scoring despite his ever-advancing age. At the age of 35, he’s better than players 10 to 15 years his junior.

But are his accomplishments the only reason that he can be considered a legend? I’d don’t think so. Now hear me out… It’s not the just accomplishments on their own that make a basketball player legendary, it’s all the intangibles that go along with them as well. Kobe Bryant’s work ethic (which from what I understand is pretty amazing), his ability to make his teammates better, his will to win, and his incredible competitiveness make him a legend. It doesn’t matter how many rings or scoring titles he’s won. Those things are meaningless if the player accomplishing them doesn’t put his all into the game, which is what Kobe’s been doing his entire career. He put his all into the game of basketball for years and became something more than a great player. He became a legend.

No, He’s Not a Legend!

There are two distinct reasons as to why Kobe Bryant isn’t a legend. One of which explains why I (and I’m assuming a few others) personally don’t like him as a player. These two reasons diminish his legacy and cause him to fall just short of legendary status.

The first reason is one that I just have to mention. Kobe has had some on and off the court theatrics that have somewhat diminished his legacy. They include his very public alleged rape case (the subject of many jokes), his somewhat less public interview in which he told the world that Shaq cheated on his wife (thereby violating several man laws), and several embarrassing fights (most notably with Chris Childs) have made Kobe into something of a joke in the eyes of many. I believe that these actions have affected Kobe’s career in the same manner that Tiger Woods’ scandal affected his career. It caused and continues to cause a lot of people to judge him unfairly based on matters that have nothing to do with basketball.

However, that’s not the real reason why Kobe isn’t a legend. The real reason is that Kobe Bryant doesn’t have his own identity as a basketball player. What I mean is that he has modeled his entire career and style of play after Michael Jordan. He shoots like him, he dribbles like him, he walks like him, he even chews gum like him (Every time I think of Kobe Bryant, I get this visual of him sitting in a room watching old Jordan highlights and walking back and forth trying to get the walk just right).

What makes this problem even worse is the fact that Kobe never added anything new to Jordan’s game. He just copied Jordan to the letter. Kobe’s just a less dominant version of Michael Jordan. He’s a Michael Jordan for today’s generation and that’s why I think so many people like Kobe so much. He’s a player for fans who were too young to enjoy Jordan’s career while he was still playing, and that’s the problem. No one is going to say, “That guy reminds me of Kobe Bryant,” or “That player plays just like Kobe.” If anything, they’ll say, “That guy plays like Michael Jordan.”

Other NBA players who are considered legends don’t have this problem. You could say that a basketball player plays like Magic Johnson or Shaq or even Larry Bird. That’s part of the reason why they’re considered legends. True NBA legends are a benchmark that fans can use to measure other players against, but I think that Kobe will fall a bit short of that mark when his career is over. He won’t be forgotten and he will definitely be inducted into the Hall of Fame, but he won’t be a legend. He’ll just be a less successful Michael Jordan.

Tarrence Garrison
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