Monday, June 15, 2009

What is Kobe Bryant’s Place in history?

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Where does Kobe Bryant rate among the modern superstar NBA champions? Here is a good place to start:

Michael Jordan -- 6 championships
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar -- 6
Magic Johnson -- 5
Kobe Bryant -- 4
Tim Duncan -- 4
Shaquille O'Neal -- 4

Bryant may now be viewed as being on the same tier as Shaq, who was the dominant force in basketball and MVP of the Finals during all three of their championships together with the Lakers from 2000 through '02. The tension that ultimately divided them was created by both of them, but one of the obvious issues was mired in Bryant's ambition to fulfill himself. He wanted to become more than Shaq's "sidekick," as he referred to himself disparagingly in Phil Jackson's book on their final season together.

"From the standpoint of responding to the challenge," Bryant said Sunday, "from people saying I couldn't do it without him, [winning the title] feels good because you prove people wrong." But he chooses to focus more on what they accomplished, as opposed to the additional titles they might have won.

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