Father Time keeps knocking on the door, but Kobe Bryant tells him to go away. He’s two years removed from playing with a surgically repaired knee, but an innovative procedure in Germany allowed Bryant to discover the Fountain of Youth. He’s currently rehabbing his surgically repaired left Achilles tendon, but it’s possible Bryant could suit up for the Lakers opening night Oct. 29 against the Clippers at Staples Center.
That uncompromising mindset enabled Bryant last season to average 27.3 points per game, third best in the NBA. And it’s enough for Stephon Marbury to proclaim one thing about Bryant even to this day.
“I consider him to be the best basketball player in the NBA,” Marbury told reporters to China where he’s playing. “I think LeBron James is amazing. He’s an amazing athlete. But as a basketball player, Kobe has had the foundation from the beginning. LeBron James is a freak of nature. There’s not too many guys who are 6’8″, 240 pounds and can run and jump and pass the ball like he does. But Kobe is a better all around basketball player.”
Very few have echoed Marbury’s words. Many consider Bryant a scorer. Many consider James a master at everything. Yet, Bryant relies on a wide-range of tools to score, including his footwork, driving and unmatched ability to make difficult shots through double and triple teams. James scores with his freakish athleticism, an improved outside shot and ability to play multiple positions.
No one disputes Bryant has a more extensive resume (five rings to James’ two). No one disputes James could be just scratching the surface at honing his legacy. But while the public sentiment suggests James currently has more talent at this moment in time than Bryant, the fact he remains in the conversation as among the NBA’s best remains an accomplishment in itself.
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