As a writer, I am new here to Laker Nation, but have been reading the articles for quite some time and love everyone's take on the Lakers (at least the intelligent ones). I had to join in the fun. I want to post my strong opinion that ESPN and Kobe Haters alike have put themselves in a no-win situation.
For years, Kobe fans have heard all the criticism/scrutiny about their hero, while having to deal with every excuse known to man on why Kobe isn't as great as the other All-Timers, or even Lebron for that matter. The 2 main arguments that the media (ESPN) and Kobe haters/LeBron fans would bring up were:
1) Kobe's three rings with Shaq do not count, or at the very least were somehow tainted in the eyes of people.
2) Lebron's stats are way better than Kobe's...
Now, as we can see, the Lebron homers have put themselves in quite a predicament. Lebron now has joined the Heat playing alongside 1 star and 1 superstar. First, let's say the Heat do go on to win a couple rings, I can't wait to here what ESPN and Lebron fans have to say...will they keep the same criteria that they have used to critique Kobe all these years with Lebron? In my opinion, I believe Bosh and Wade together equal more than 1 Shaq. Now I understand this is 100% opinion, but hey, for years all ESPN and Kobe Haters did was share opinions and hypothetical arguments instead of reality, so I believe Kobe fans have earned the right to give an opinion here and there; especially because WE ARE THE ONES WHO HAVE BEEN RIGHT ON THE KOBE/LEBRON DEBATE! Lebron has 0 rings, therefore no what ifs can be used to defend him, as he has done nothing to warrant such high expectations. Kobe has done enough where he rightfully and truthfully belongs in discussion of GOAT.
As for stats, I promise if Lebron is not posting numbers of 25, 5, and 5 during any of the Heat's championships (if they do indeed win one) then Lechoke fans will not hear the end of it...from me at least. During the Lakers first three peat, Kobe put up sensational numbers (25, 5, and 5 was his average season for those three championship years) yet still was not given the credit he deserved until he won his 4th ring minus the Big Aristotle. Even after winning his fifth, there were still fans out there defending Lebron as the better player because his stats were superior, and supposedly did not have the right players. I find it funny how even after having the best team in the league two straight seasons, there are still Kobe haters using the "Lebron has no teammates" excuse. WHAT WILL THE HATERS AND ESPN SAY NOW!? Lebron's stats will go down the gutter and even if he wins rings, how will they justify them when this whole time, they have been diminishing Kobe's first three rings with Shaq?
I don't care what the critics say, without Kobe, the Lakers are not getting past the Spurs and Kings in the 2001 and 2002 playoffs respectively. I also would make the argument the Lakers are not defeating the Blazers in the 2000 WCF without the clutch play of Kobe, but even as a die hard Kobe fan, I can admit he was the Robin to Shaq's Batman during the 99-00 season, but that is the only ring you can say that for!
For years, I have done my best explaining to the haters the reasons why Lebron posts such high numbers. They decide not to listen, and keep making every excuse/hypothetical argument in the book. However, due to Lebron joining the Heat, I think they will finally realize why Lebron's numbers were inflated in Cleveland. Lebron has never been a better passer than Kobe in my opinion, he just had way more opportunities to rack up an assist with the Cavs - this will change drastically as D-Wade will be taking a lot of those assist attempts away. Lebron's scoring will drop heavily, but his rebs may go up a bit. We'll see what happens. Sorry for the rant guys, just needed to let out my thoughts. Thank you!