The debate over who the greatest basketball player of all time is often leads to nowhere, and by often I mean always. While you might think it’s a toss up between Michael Jordan and LeBron James, someone else might think it’s 2007-08 Most Improved Player Hedo Turkoglu and no amount of Twitter threads or think pieces will change their mind. It’s an endless cycle of yelling at clouds and/or walls.
And yet, people love indulging in the debate, even professional basketball players like Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors.
In an interview with Shams Charania of The Athletic, Durant talked about the players that impress him the most while watching film, and he said that Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan are in a league of their own:
“Kobe (Bryant), MJ (Michael Jordan) and Kyrie,” Durant says. “Just the way they move, I don’t understand why people don’t realize what they’re seeing in these three, especially Jordan and Kobe. Kyrie is younger than me, and that’s one of my best friends, so I watch his stuff. I get to play with Steph every day so I know his game inside and out. But watching Kobe and Mike, I’m like, ‘How do you not realize how good these dudes are?’ How do you not say they’re by far better than anybody who’s played the game? Just by the way they move, how fluid they are.
“Everybody that comes to my house, whether it’s friends or family, I make them watch Jordan highlights. This is equivalent to (Albert) Einstein … fucking (Ludwig van) Beethoven … or (Barack) Obama. This is the greatest talent and athletes and minds of the world. Just because they play sports, people think one way. But they’re masters, they’re geniuses. I just started realizing that a few years ago: Watching those guys can really spark my creativity.”
Bryant might not get as much consideration in the G.O.A.T. debate among NBA fans as Jordan or LeBron James do, but players that have gone head-to-head with him almost always mention him in the discussion.
In a video posted by Unguarded in April, Allen Iverson shared a similar sentiment regarding Bryant’s place in the all-time debate:
“What bother me is when they do talk about [the greatest of all time], Lebron is great first of all ... when they talk about comparing him to Mike, I don’t understand how they don’t have the debate with him in Kobe,” Iverson said. “You forgot? They forgot?
“I really think they forgot. The Mamba, man ... certified serial killer, man.”
Whether or not Bryant belongs in that conversation is subjective, but one could certainly make a compelling argument with his impressive 20-year resumé.
One thing is clear: NBA players, both former and current, love them some Kobe. Hopefully Durant’s admiration for the Mamba will lead him to Los Angeles next summer.
You can follow this author on Twitter at @RadRivas.