Great post at Slate.com from Tom Scocca, debating how Kobe Bryant quite possibly is the greatest personal rival for all players. He defines certain players careers (Ruben Patterson, Bruce Bowen, Raja Bell, anyone?), while others strive to best him, and take the mantle of the Heir Jordan for themselves.
Here's a tidbit:
Bryant is also the perfect foil for every sort of rivalry. Dynastic? Tim Duncan's Spurs have four rings to Kobe's three. Cryptodynastic? The critically acclaimed, fast-breaking Phoenix Suns couldn't win a title, but they could beat Kobe. Intrasquad? Since their feud broke up the championship Lakers, Shaq has won a ring without Kobe, and Kobe has none without Shaq. Intergenerational? If LeBron doesn't make the Finals, we'll have to settle for Carmelo. Player-against-coach? Phil Jackson left L.A. in exasperation, Kobe missed the playoffs entirely, and Jackson came back. And a proof by counterexample: The Miami Heat's championship win over the Dallas Mavericks was so forgettable because neither team had to beat Kobe to get there. The whole thing felt unpersuasive.
It's a great read, comes through way of ESPN. You can find the whole article by following the link.