Kobe Bryant Is Underrated- It’s Not as Absurd as it Sounds

A bona-fide superstar, Kobe Bryant has become a household name--and then some.

Since his inception into the league in 1996, Kobe Bryant has been worldwide known and revered. He has won five NBA Championships, two NBA Finals MVPs and a regular season MVP Award. He is a nine-time all-defensive team selection. He is a 14-time NBA All-Star and a four-time NBA All-Star Game MVP. He has an approximate net worth of $200 million and that’s not all from his nearly $30 million per-year contract with the Lakers. In fact, a large majority of it is from the endless endorsement deals he’s signed and the worldwide tours that he has embarked on. His jersey is the second best-selling in the NBA, and he is a worldwide phenomenon. How can someone this popular be underrated? As absurd as that does sound, Kobe Bryant is an underrated player.

When someone says, “Best player in the NBA,” many players might come to mind: LeBron James, Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant, Dwyane Wade and Dwight Howard, to name a few. According to TrueHoop on ESPN, Kobe Bryant is the seventh best player in the NBA with a score of 9.40 (don’t ask me what that means). He simply is not in his prime anymore, and, therefore is not viewed with the same sense of amazement as he was five years ago. Consider, though, that he is playing with a lackluster supporting cast. His backcourt mates are Derrick Fisher, Steve Blake, Jason Kapono and Andrew Goudelock, none of whom inspires greatness. Pau Gasol’s skill is declining, and Josh McRoberts and Troy Murphy aren’t necessarily Messiahs. He does have Andrew Bynum, but he has been injured every season in his career so far, and Kobe has led the Lakers to plenty of titles without that cornerstone. The fact that the Lakers are 14-11 and in position to make the playoffs is a miracle on it’s own. Kobe Bryant is the Peyton Manning the NBA, as he means more to his team than any other player in the league.

“Kobe Bryant is the Peyton Manning of the NBA, as he means more to his team than any other player in the league.”

His supporting cast may be disappointing at times, but the resilience of Kobe Bryant has propelled the Lakers to a 14-11 record.

During the NBA preseason, Kobe tore a ligament in his wrist. The team’s doctors said that it was an injury that could take up to three weeks to heal and that he “won’t be ready to play for two weeks.” Three days later, Kobe put up 28 points on opening day against the Bulls, one of the stingiest defenses in the NBA. He went on a stretch of four straight games with more than 40 points. He’s averaging 29.3 points per game, not to mention the almost 40 minutes per game for which he’s on the floor. In a new era of the NBA where each star has a high-profile partner in crime, Kobe is simply left out in the cold, without a healthy, established star to share the load.

“LeBron has Wade. Wade has LeBron. Rose has Deng and Noah. Durant has Westbrook. Paul has Griffin. Anthony has Stoudamire. With Bynum often-injured, Kobe has Josh McRoberts, Andrew Goudelock, Troy Murphy and Jason Kapono.”

(GRAPHIC MADE BY SAM BRIEF)

Everyone else (MADE BY SAM BRIEF)” src=”https://sambrief.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/screen-shot-2012-02-08-at-7-03-44-pm1.png” alt=”” width=”416″ height=”402″ />

Even on the All-time list, Kobe had better be near the top. If championships count for anything, his five should be a difference maker. Add in his incredible career statistics, and you have the perfect combination of wins and individual performance. He makes the difference for his team like Peyton Manning does, yet he has four more rings than him and Kobe is much more clutch. He is hands-down the most clutch player in the NBA, and maybe even in history. His game-winning shots have become something of frequent occurrence.

I know it does sound pretty absurd, but in a world of the LeBrons, Roses, Howards and Durants, Kobe is the lone soldier out West, leading a team with talent ranking the among NBA’s worst into the playoffs (for now).

“Kobe is the lone soldier out West, leading a team with the talent to be among the NBA’s worst “

In October, ESPN’s Ric Bucher ranked Kobe Bryant as the #1 player in the NBA. This came with an unprecedented amount of backlash. He was right though, because if LeBron, Rose or Durant were put into the same situation that Kobe is in, they would be as perplexed as any.

As most fail to see, Kobe is still #1.

You just heard the cold-hard truth: Kobe Bryant is as underrated as any – except when you start talking about Paul Milsap, but that’s an entirely different story…

By Sam Brief

Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment, I would love to know what you think!

Follow me on Twitter (@SamsSportsBrief)

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25 thoughts on “Kobe Bryant Is Underrated- It’s Not as Absurd as it Sounds

  1. Great post Sam! If it’s one thing about Kobe Bryant, no matter the hoopla, the guy is going to give it his all. You’re exactly right about him being underrated. The Lakers now don’t have a deep bench, which is why he should be considered an even more important player to his team. Injuries never stop him and you can count on him to put the team on his back when it gets tough. Didn’t like Kobe in the past, but when they lost the NBA Championship to the Mavs last year, the guy made me change my mind. Bryant was a true professional and didn’t go crazy like Bynum did in the end.

  2. Kobe is definitely overrated. How many MVPs has he won? Only one, but people act like he has five or six. He has been to the NBA Finals seven times and was favored to win all five. Lost two, and those were on him. He has always been given credit for being a great defender. He is not.

    • A player is not defined by the number of MVPs he wins (Kobe deserves it this year), but by the amount of Championships he/she has won. Tom Brady is 3-2 in the Super Bowl, but those three wins speak volumes. Same deal with Kobe.

  3. Rating these guys against each other is always tough because they have different skill sets, obviously different supporting casts, etc. MVP awards – could care less. That being said, deciding whether one of the NBA’s superstars is over or underrated is definitely more tangible a target I think. Strip away all the rings or awards he did or did not get…is Kobe Bryant underrated? I like the way you flipped the question…because of course most would expect discussion about him being overrated. How could he possibly be undervalued, right? I do think he gets less credit than deserved because of the franchise he plays for, the Shaq years, Phil Jackson, etc.

    • Thanks, Bruce!!

      I think that part of the reason that people undervalue Kobe is because of the strong support he’s had over the years. Now that his supporting cast is suffering, people (like me) are realizing that Kobe is not getting the credit he deserves.

  4. Sam

    I’d say under-appreciated ! Imagine where this Lakers’ franchise would be without Bryant in the post “Lakers’ Showtime Era ” ? It was all about Shaq when they were reeling off the three-peats with Phil Jackson but consider Bryant’s contributions in those games ?

    Bryant is worth every “red cent” he’s being paid by the Lakers in comparison to the players on the Los Angeles Lakers’ roster and the players at the position within the NBA ! Bear in mind also , players in the NBA who are being paid an exorbitant salary and producing absolutely nothing in return for their respective teams .

    tophatal ………….

  5. I think Kobe’s value is just about right in that, he’s not over rated or under rated. It’s the old Bill Russell argument, championships over numbers. The thing is, Kobe does want the numbers and does cost his team some games here and there. Over the last couple years I’ve grown to hate him a lot less and appreciate him a lot more than I thought I would. I think the thing I like most about him is how he’s always playing through injuries, which doesn’t get enough attention. Broken fingers, jacked up wrist, hurt shoulder, sprained ankle, it doesn’t matter it won’t keep him out of the lineup even if it’s a regular season game that probably won’t matter in the grand scheme of things. He plays every game like it’s his last, and that’s commendable.

  6. “Peyton Manning of the NBA”

    Kobe may be a lot of things but a) he has won more than one ring and B) he is not a big-game choke artist.

    Besides, did you hear Larry Bird’s comments on Kobe the other day?

  7. You know I follow College basketball much closer than the NBA, so I was surprised to hear that True Hoops had him ranked as the number 7 player in the league. I’ve never been a fan of the Lakers but Kobe in my mind is one of the all time greats. I realize he’s a little past his prime, but still very productive. I think he has a few years left and maybe, maybe one more ring left in him, time will tell.

  8. Sam

    At this juncture given the choice I’m pretty sure that Kobe wouldn’t mind having both Shaq and Phil Jackson back because the play of this team has been inept ! Mike Brown is once again proving that even with marginal talent he is not that good a coach and with a squad one would envision better than he’d been accustomed to in Cleveland he is showing that he is not up to the task ! Kupchak made the wrong decision hiring him rather than a ready made replacement in Brian Shaw !

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