As Kobe Bryant begins the inevitable decline that every superstar before him has gone through, he is well aware that these next few years will determine where he ranks amongst the all-time NBA greats.
As of right now, the debate for the greatest player in NBA history, begins and ends with Michael Jordan. And don’t think Kobe Bryant is unaware of that. Ever since Kobe entered the league, he was always compared to Michael, especially since the two played the same position.
Fast forward sixteen years later and Kobe is less than 3,000 points away from surpassing MJ on the all time scoring list; a number he will more than likely surpass when he finally retires. However, when all is said and done, it’s not the total amount of points that the critics will be looking at; it’s the jewelry. Kobe has 5 rings and MJ has 6 rings.
Despite scoring 43 points in Game 5 of the NBA playoffs, the impact that those 43 points had on the game was not the same kind of impact that it had 5 years ago. Opposing teams are okay with Kobe pump faking three times before taking an ill-advised shot with a high degree of difficulty.
With younger superstars such as Durant and Westbrook effortlessly putting the ball into the hole, the Los Angeles Lakers need to find a way to get easier buckets. And a soon to be 34-year-old shooting guard is not the answer.
With older superstars (Duncan, KG, Pierce, Allen) stepping aside for younger teammates (Parker and Rondo), in order to succeed; is it time for Kobe to do the same?
Not in his mind.
After losing to the Oklahoma City Thunder, Kobe said, "I'm not fading into the shadows." But how much longer can the Black Mamba play the role of Batman only to come up empty? Or should he finally play the role of Robin in order to win his elusive 6th ring?
Either way, it’ll be a win-win for MJ.