One For The Thumb.

Kobe + Andre 3000 = victory:

Interesting that Nike’s iconic, tongue-wagging pitchman didn’t make an appearance in any of those old-school snippets. Which is appropriate for any number of reasons, but maybe not for the ones you would think.

As Kobe closes in on a fifth championship ring tonight, this time against the surging Celtics, it’s worth revisiting this particular comment from The Sports Guy:

If (Kobe) … upends the 2010 Celtics, here’s what happens to him historically:

• By any calculation, he passes Oscar and Jerry and becomes the third-best guard ever (trailing only Jordan and Magic).

This is silliness.

Gregg Doyel of CBS Sports put this sort of thinking into its proper place recently, saying “the ring argument is a safe haven for simple minds. … In the NFL, Trent Dilfer has a Super Bowl ring. Dan Marino does not. In MLB, Barry Bonds was a cheating SOB, but he was also the best player of his generation. And he has zero World Series rings.”


Kobe is great on his own merits, and inching him into the conversation with Oscar Robertson and Jerry West shouldn’t depend on whether Derek Fisher is knocking down shots or if Pau Gasol can handle Kendrick Perkins leaning on him for 30 minutes a game.

And for what it’s worth, I’m loathe to make a prediction but … I still think Kobe gets one for the thumb and the Lakers win in seven games. The difference this time around will be the vice-like grip Artest will put on Paul Pierce.


Joel Anderson —blackink —  writes about sports, politics, crime, courts, and other issues far beyond his competence at BuzzFeed. He has worked at media outlets in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Atlanta and contributed to a number of publications, including The Root and The American Prospect, among many others.
  • The fact that the sports guy is on the Kobe hyperbole train, just a few years after shunning him completely, is hilarious. Kobe is in the top 15 of all time, and thats all that matters. Third best guard ever? I don’t know about that

    In terms of rings, Robert Horry has seven, and no one is putting him in the GOAT discussions..

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  • bp

    it is interesting that MJ isn’t in any of the clips. What are the reasons to which you alluded that make his exclusion appropriate? Just curious. My money is on Kobe insisting/demanding an end to anything that may reignite and perpetuate the MJ clone conversation.

  • What I find interesting that nobody talks about how his first three titles were due in large part to Shaq anymore. Before it was about how he couldn’t win without Shaq. He got one ring with Gasol and it’s like he suddenly got full credit for the first three titles.

    • blackink12

      That Shaq got his first three titles is also due in large part to the fact that he played with Kobe. Respectively, Kobe averaged 21, 29 and 26 points and never shot less than 43 percent from the field in those Finals runs.

      He wasn’t just along for the ride, na’mean?

      That’s not even taking into account the next season when the Lakers came up short – didn’t make the Finals – and Kobe averaged 32-5-5.

      What I’m saying is: let’s not play that game. No one wins an NBA title on their own.

      • Oh I totally agree with you but I just think it’s funny that nobody brings up Shaq anymore when discussing Kobe’s first three titles. That used to be Kobe’s asterisk.

        • blackink12

          No doubt. But if anything, I hear people refer to Kobe’s role on those first 3 title teams as something akin to Scottie Pippen.

          As if that’s an insult. But more than that, it’s wrong.

  • I agree with Seanathan. Folks act like Obi- Wan Kobe did it all on his own. Yes he is great player and will go down in history but trust he couldn’t have done it without a decent team.

    Peace, Love and Chocolate

  • Rings speak to the greatness of the TEAM and of course the team is only as good as the sum of its parts. But what defines individual greatness? I guess we could start by listing off great players who spent their careers on bad teams and how they rank (statistically) with great players who played on great teams. Of course one can argue how a player can truly be great and be a part of something bad or how a bad player can truly be bad and be a part of something great. But I’m not going to do that.

  • Yeah, I guess it doesn’t matter if he’s better than Mike. He’s unbelievably clutch, a fantastic defender, and he may have the widest repertoire of offensive moves as any backcourt player ever.

    (There was a point during the PHX series when i was only surprised when he *missed*.)

    • I think he’s the closest thing there is to Mike for those reasons you described and it will be fun debating once Kobe’s career is over and done with who’s really the best to ever lace ’em up. Dude is just nice though, especially when all eyes are on him, no player in the league compares to him on that level.