Kobe Bryant: From age 21 to 34, G.O.A.T

September 12, 2018

THE MEASURING STICK. IT'S THANK TO KOBE.

 

Why is it that when everyone compares Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan they go right for the OVERALL numbers of a kid that was the first guard to ever leave High School for the NBA. They compare the overall numbers of a player that was the 1st guard to make the jump to a player spent those early years in college, and off the NBA record. They compare a player that didn't start during his first 2 years in the NBA with a player that didn't go directly from High School to the NBA. Jordan entered the NBA as an All-American after 3 years of college and was given the keys to the city. On that note, why wasn't Michael Jordan ," the greatest player ever," the first guard to go from High School to the NBA? 

The first thing that the opposition uses to therefore solidify Kobe's 1st year numbers is the fact that LeBron averaged 20ppg right out of High School while Kobe only averaged 7.6. 


Debaters make the comparison between Kobe & LeBron out of High School to highlight why you shouldn’t take away any years from Kobe and that all of Kobe's years should be valid for the debate. They feel that taking years from Kobe strengthens the debate in Kobe’s favor making his numbers more comparable to Jordan’s. 

They say take no years from Kobe because Lebron averaged 20.9 ppg right out of High School and has a NBA career average of 27.1 ppg. So if LeBron averaged 20.9 ppg as a rookie why didn’t, or couldn’t Kobe? 

Let's get something straight; because Kobe was the first guard to enter the NBA out of high school he was an experiment. When the reintroduction of high school players to the NBA resurfaced in 1995 with Kevin Garnett, he also had to sit. It had been 20 years since a player went from High school to the NBA and the prior were all big men. How could anyone possibly expect those early year players to step right into the the 90's era NBA, and start? Where was the proof that it would be a successful experiment for a guard? Jordan, and all the prior guards, were either Sophomores, Juniors, or Seniors in college. Given the obvious absence of a prior guard to make the jump Kobe accepted that challenge as he broke new ground.

Had Kevin Garnet, Kobe Bryant, Jermaine O’Neal, and Tracy McGrady not made it a successful experiment, by the time that LeBron came out of High School there may not have been a LeBron out of high school. 

For Kobe and LeBron’s High School careers Kobe scored 2,883 points shattering the Pennsylvania record set by Wilt Chaimberlin. His junior season he averaged 31. ppg, 10.4 rebs, and 5.2 assist. His senior season he averaged 30.8 ppg. LeBron James’ high school career saw him score 2,657 total points. LeBron’s junior year in High School saw him average 29.0ppg, 8.3 rebs, and 5.7 assist. His senior year he averaged 31.6 ppg, 9.6 rebs, and 4.6 assist. 

Most people feel that LeBron was more NBA ready coming out of high school and that being the reason for his early success. Well, in the case of Kobe, and as an early member of the 1996 NBA Draft class myself, I must admit that it wasn’t about readiness. It was about uncertainty or simply doubt because he was a guard. Even with a more NBA ready body he would’ve had to sit and wait. Eddie Jones didn’t have more of an NBA ready body during Kobe’s rookie season but he had experience and history on his side; History being the potential for early success and contribution after 4 years of college. LeBron averaged 18.9 FGA per game his rookie year while Kobe only averaged 5.9. In fact, Kobe didn’t average 18.9 FGAPG or more until his fifth year in the NBA.

 

Bigs had already proven that the leap could be a successful one with Moses Malone and Shawn Kemp even though he went to Trinity first. The one thing that we all new about Kobe was that with his work ethic, immense talent, and unparalleled skills, if he were able to reach his maximum potential, you would have a franchise player, at the very lease. 

Kobe’s early success shifted the mindset and perception of whether or not a guard could make the jump when he bacame an All-Star game starter in year two. Tracy McGrady, a year later, further shifted the planet. 


Due to the success of Kobe Bryant and Tracy McGrady, LeBron James was not only able to gain consideration as a #1 pick right out of High School but was able to come right to the NBA, and start day one. 

Kobe, as the God Father to perimeter high schooler's, didn’t have that luxury. 

 

THE THINGS HE COULD CONTROL

 -5 Championships
-2x Finals MVP
-1x NBA MVP (1 Rape Accusation vs the following things that he could control on the court)
-2x Scoring Titles
-11x All NBA 1st Team
-9x All-NBA Def 1st Team (most All-Time)

-Only player in history to be named 1st Team All-NBA & 1st Team All-Defense in consecutive Years 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, and 15

-Only Player in history to be named 1st Team All-NBA in consecutive years 16 and 17
-18x All-Star
-4x All-Star MVP (most All-Time)
-2x Olympic Gold
-4th All-Time Scoring
-1st Player 30,000p, 7,000r, 6,000.
-133x 40 points, 25x 50 points, 6x 60 points, 1x 80 points.
-35.4 Points Per Game Season
-4x 40ppg Avg For A Calendar Month (only Wilt Chamberlain had more)
-1x 42 points in 17 minutes (only Wilt did this)
-1x 57 Points In A Half (only Wilt did this)
-4x 40 Points in a Half (only Wilt did it more)
-6x 50 Points In 3 Quarters (only Wilt did it more)
-1x 62 Points In 3 Quarters (Mavs 61 points total as a team)(did it twice, only Wilt did this)
-4 Straight Games 50+ Points (53% 2pt, 54% 3pt, 93%ft over 4 games) (only Wilt did this)
-9 Straight Games 40+ Points (45 avg, only Wilt average more over 9 games)
-13 Straight Games 35+ Points (only Wilt did this)
-16 Straight Games 30+ Points (only Wilt and James Harden had more)
-27.9 Points Per Game 16th Season (highest All-Time for player in 16th season)
-27.3 Points Per Game 17th Season (highest All-Time for player in 17 season)
-17th season only player in history to lead NBA at their position in all three major statistical categories 27.3p, 5.6r, 6a
-30+ Points in 10 Straight Games at 34+ Years old (only player in history)

-33.8 PPG for a calendar month at 34+ years old (most All-Time & only player in History to accomplish)
-19.5 Field Goal Attempts per game career (9th All-Time) 
-25.0 Points Per game career
-Player Of The Decade 2000's
-Eliminated 25 teams with at least 50 wins (the most All-Time)
-Only player in NBA history to score at least 600 points in 3 consecutive playoffs

 

MVP voters can neither control or take this away. 1 MVP...? (11 1st Team All-NBA (2nd most All-Time) & 9 1st Team All-Defense (tied for most All-Time), Defeated 25 teams with at least 50 wins the most All-Time, 7 Finals appearances, 5 Championships in 10 years, Only player in history to score 600 points in 3 consecutive playoffs)... 1 MVP.

 

YOU MUST SHOOT... TO SCORE

Michael Jordan's 23.3 FGAPG average over 13 years in a Bulls uniform is the 2nd most All-Time for any player in history yet he didn't accomplished many of the scoring binges that Kobe accomplished,.. Why is that? Why is it that only Wilt was able to accomplish those feats? Mike's 23.3 FGAPG with his 2pt barrage set the standard and embodied consistency with (172) 40 point games, (34) 50 point games, and (5) 60 point games,  but why was he never able to consistently erupt and do the unimaginable like Kobe, and Wilt?

Wilt Chamberlain and his 25.37 FGAPG from age 21 to 34 was 7'1" 280lbs and the Big 8 high jump and long jump champion playing in a league with 8 teams and where the tallest players were 6'10". He did what he was supposed to do with those physical advantages. Bless him!

Kobe did the unimaginable with no physical advantages on a nightly basis. He worked harder and simply was better! Even Allen Iverson shot the ball more than Kobe on average and he never managed many of these feats. From ages 21 to 34, Mike's parallel years with the bulls, Mike averaged 23.3 FGAPG, Kobe averaged 21.4, Wilt averaged 25.1. Even Elgin Baylor averaged 24.3 FGAPG between these ages. Mike averaged 31.5 points per game, Kobe, 27.8, Wilt averaged 33.1 and Baylor 27.8. Nearly any player taking two, to four, more FGAPG could easily translate to averaging 3 to 6 more points per game. Review the numbers above again to see all the incredible things that Kobe did and that MJ never accomplished. You'd have to dig up Wilt, to see those feats reached again. And we know why Wilt was able to do it during his era. But why wasn't Jordan and his 23.3 FGAPG in a Bulls uniform ever able to do it..?

Oh yes, there's also this little nugget...

From ages 21 to 25 Kobe was the "2nd option", plan B, now, review the numbers again! I mention this because you can't have it both ways. If you mention that Kobe had Shaq as the reason that he has 5 Championships then guess what, he had Shaq here, also. Jordan had the keys to the city from day one! No one to slow down him, or his attack.

 

From age 21 to 34, prime years FGAPG:

 

Wilt: 25.1 - 1st All-Time in FGAPG - 33.1 PPG (1st option)

Baylor 24.3 - 2nd All-Time in FGAPG - 27.8 PPG (1st option)
Jordan: 23.3 - 3rd All-Time in FGAPG - 31.5 PPG (1st option)

Iverson 21.8 - 4th All-Time in FGAPG - 26.7 PPG (1st option)
Kobe 21. 4 - 5th All-Time in FGAPG - 27.8 PPG (2nd option from age 21-25)

 

Career FGAPG:

 

Baylor: 23.8 - 1st All-Time FGAPG - 27.4 PPG (4 years of College)

Jordan: 22.9 - 2nd All-Time FGAPG - 30.1 PPG (3 years of College)

Wilt: 22.5 - 3rd All-Time FGAPG - 30.1 PPG (2 years of College)

Iverson: 21.8 - 4th All-Time FGAPG - 26.7 PPG (2 years of College)

Kobe: 19.5 - 9th All-Time FGAPG - 25 PPG (1st Guard to go  from H.S to NBA)

 

What separates them is the how,..and why.

 

The why for MJ and Wilt's domination is simple. For MJ it was his 23.3 FGAPG paired with his extraordinary talent and athleticism. For Wilt, it was his 25.1 FGAPG with a 7'1" 280lbs frame and the fact the he was the Big 8 high jump & long jump champ playing against 6'10" players in the best league in the world with only 8 teams.  

 

Kobe meanwhile was plan B for 5 years between the ages of 21 to 34 because Shaq averaged 29 points and 12 rebounds per game for 2 seasons BEFORE Kobe entered the NBA as the 1st guard to ever make the jump.

 

Now review the numbers, again and ask yourself why MJ never accomplished or accumulated the feats or scoring binges that Kobe accomplished!

 

DOMINATED HIS GENERATION, TOO

Kobe Eliminated 25 teams in the playoffs with at least 50 wins while representing the stronger Western Conference. The most All-Time!

Simply to measure, in the weaker Eastern conference LeBron has eliminated 15 teams in the playoffs with at least 50 wins. He'd gone to 8 straight NBA Finals before going out West where he missed the playoff in his first season with the Lakers, in the Western Conference.

In the weaker Eastern conference LeBron has faced 7 teams in the playoffs that were under .500. 

Kobe in the stronger Western Conference has faced 0 teams that were under .500. 

 

LeBron went to the Finals in 8 consecutive season over a 10 year period, with 9 total for his career. He has 3 Championships.

 

Kobe has 2 Three Peat Finals appearances, with 7 total appearances over a 10 years period for his career. He has 5 Championships.

 

During this 10 year period Kobe faced Tim Duncan with 3 or 4 Hall of Famers 5 times and eliminated them 4-1 on his way to 4 of his 7 Finals appearances. He has an 18-8 overall W/L record over those 4 series eliminations vs Tim Duncan, with 1 sweep. 

Kobe is 5-2 vs the East in 7 Finals appearances. 

LeBron is 3-6 vs the West in 9 Finals appearances. He was swept twice in the finals by the West!! He lost to Tim Duncan in the Finals twice, with one sweep.

 

The NBA has seen more dominance than LeBron. The same can be said for the Eastern Conference. (See Jordan as to why)

Jordan eliminated 20 teams with at least 50 wins in the 90's version of the Eastern Conference and faced 2 teams that were under .500. He also never faced a team in the finals with fewer HOF's than his 90's Bulls teams. 

Jordan and Pippen vs:
-Magic and Worthy
-Drexler
-Barkley*

Jordan & Pippen & Rodman vs:
-Payton
-Stockton* & Malone*
-Stockton* & Malone*

(*) denotes that they were All-Stars that eventually became HOF's without ever winning a Championship. While Kevin Johnson with Barkley and Shawn Kemp with Payton were All Stars, they're not in the HOF. 

Jordan was 6-0, vs the Western Conference!

 

FROM AGE 21 TO 34

Let's take a closer look at what Kobe did as the 2nd option vs what Mike did as the 1st option. Being the 2nd option, as the 1st guard to go to the NBA from high school, to playing with a Shaq that averaged 29.3 points and 12 rebounds, twice, before joining Kobe's rookie season (out of high school) isn't a detractor. 

With Kobe, like with MJ & LeBron, it was about opportunity. LeBron averaged 18.9 FGAPG his rookie season, Mike averaged 19.8 FGAPG at 21 years old and after 3 years of college during his rookie season. Kobe, as the 1st guard to go from high-school-to-pro, had to sit and didn't average more than 18 FGAPG until his 5th year. (*)This will be more interesting later.

Here are the Greatest Legends of the NBA as the 1st option from ages 21 to 34 years old, their absolute best years, vs Kobe including those years as Plan B:

Kareem from age 21 to 34:
27.6p, 13.6r, 2.25blk, 20.5fga

Jordan from age 21 to 34:
31.4p, 6.28r, 5.39a, 23.32fga

Bird from age 23 to 34:
24.5p, 10.1r, 6.3a, 19.5fga

LeBron from age 21 to 34:
27.6p, 7.6r, 7.3a, 19.52fga

Oscar from age 22 to 34:
26.6p, 7.8r, 9.73a, 19.43fga

West from age 22 to 34:
27.2p, 5.82r, 6.69a, 20.54fga

Magic from age 21 to 31:
19.7p, 7.30r, 11.35a, 13.3fga
-------------------------------
Kobe from age 21 to 34 (*) 2nd option from 21 to 25:
27.78p, 5.71r, 5.2a, 21.35fga

(*)Told you the fact that he didn't average more than 18 fgapg until his 5th year in the NBA would be interesting. 

 

Kobe as 2nd option from age 21 to 25 averaged: 

26.2p, 6.0r, 5.3a, 20.5fga (Shaq during that period averaged 27p, 12r, 2.6blk 18.3 fga)

Kobe as 1st option from age 26 to 34 averaged:

28.6p, 5.5r, 5.2a 21.8fga 

These are Kobe's compiled numbers vs players that were the number 1 option on everyday of every season, from day one!

Now do you get my point..?

P.S...Magic and Kareem to many different people are also considered the G.O.A.T. One of them was the 2nd option but that fact doesn't effect either of them.

Review Kobe's numbers from above again and remember these words along the way; (only Wilt did this)! 

Wilt was also the 1st option! 

 

BUT,.. KOBE HAD SHAQ..!?

2001 Playoffs: Kobe as the 2nd option (22 years old) 29.4 points, 7.3 rebs, 6.1 ast

1st Round Vs Portland 

Shaq- 27 points, 15.7 rebounds, 2.7 Blocks

Kobe- 25 points, 4.3 rebounds, 7.7 Assist, 2.3 steals 

 

2nd Round Vs Sacramento

Shaq- 33.3 points, 17.3 rebounds, 3.3 Blocks

Kobe- 35 points, 9 rebounds, 4.3 assist

 

Western Conference Finals Vs San Antonio

Shaq-27 points, 13 rebounds, 1.3 blks

Kobe-33.3 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assist

 

2002 Playoffs: Kobe as the 2nd option (23 years old) 26.6 points, 5.8 rebs, 4.6 ast

1st Round Vs Portland

Shaq- 25.7 points, 11.3 rebounds, 1.7 Blks

Kobe- 26 points, 5.7 rebounds, 5 assist

 

2nd Round Vs San Antonio

Shaq- 21.4 points, 12.2 rebounds, 3 blks

Kobe- 26.2 points, 5.4 rebounds, 4.8 assist

 

Western Conference Finals Vs Sacramento

Shaq-30.3 points, 13.6 rebounds, 2.4 blks

Kobe-27.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.9 assist

 

2003 Playoffs: Kobe as the 2nd option... 32.1 points, 5.2 rebs, 5.1 ast

1st Round Vs Minnesota

Shaq-28.7 points, 15.3 rebounds, 2.8 blks

Kobe-31.8 Points, 5.2 rebounds, 6.7 assist

 

2nd Round Vs San Antonio

Shaq-25.3 points, 14.3 rebounds, 2.8 blks

Kobe-32.3 points, 5 rebounds, 3.7 assist

 

During the 2003-04 Playoffs Kobe lead the team in scoring during the season and during each round of the playoffs, except the finals. This was nearly the same result from 2001 until Shaq left in 2004. Did Shaq quit on the team in 2004 to prove a point after famously saying that you had to feed the dog if you wanted him to protect the house...? 

 

Unless he says that was the case I guess we will never know...

 

After the 2001-02  season Shaq never again lead the team in scoring during the regular season or the playoffs. 

 

But Kobe did have Shaq, though. While Kobe lead the team to the Finals Phil wanted to play through Shaq in the Finals and Shaq always delivered in a big way, hence Shaq's 3 Finals MVP awards.

 

Meanwhile,....

 

Kobe as the 1st option without Shaq:

2008 until 2010 Playoff averages:

2008- 30.1 points, 5.7 rebounds, 5.7 assist (Finals appearance)

2009- 30.2 points, 5. 3 rebounds, 5.5 assist (NBA Champions)

2010- 29.2 points, 6 rebounds, 5.5 assist (NBA Champions)

 

After Shaq left Kobe, the show went on...

 

After Shaq left Kobe, Shaq at 31 years young never averaged more than 20 points per game during the playoffs again. 

 

PERSPECTIVE IS EFFECTIVE. THEY ARE NOT THE SAME

Kobe Bryant vs Michael Jordan by the numbers from ages 21-34, MJ's years with the Bulls. MJ's defining years.

Field Goal Attempts Per Game
-Number of seasons Avg less than 20 FGAPG
Kobe           Jordan
2                  2

-Number of season average between 20-21 FGA
Kobe          Jordan
7                  0

-Number of seasons average between 21-22 FGA
Kobe          Jordan
1                   0

-Number of seasons average between 22-23 FGA
Kobe          Jordan
2                  4

-Number of seasons average between 23-24 FGA
Kobe          Jordan
2                  3

Number of seasons average between 24-27 FGA
Kobe          Jordan
0                3

Number of seasons average between 27-28 FGA
Kobe          Jordan
1                  1

 

So, from age 21 to 34 MJ shot the ball more than Kobe on average by averaging 23.3 FGAPG and 31.5 PPG to Kobe's 21.4 FGAPG and 27.8 PPG. While shooting 23.3 times per game MJ won 10 scoring titles. But even with all those FGAPG by MJ, this happened....

-Most consecutive 40+ games
Kobe          Jordan
9                9

-Avg ppg during 9 game 40 point streak + times eclipsed 50 points during streak + times eclipsed 44 points during streak
Kobe                         Jordan
45ppg+2+4            41ppg+0+1

-Score at least 40 points in at least 4 straight games
Kobe             Jordan
6x                  2x

-Consecutive 50+ point games
Kobe                                 Jordan
4 (50,65,50,60)          3 (50,51,61)

-Score 40+ points in a half
Kobe.           jordan
4x                0

-Score 50 points by the end of the 3rd qtr
Kobe           Jordan
6x               0x

-Avg 40+ppg for a calendar month
Kobe          Jordan
4x              0

-Make at least 8 3pts in a game
Kobe          Jordan
4x              0

-Score 60 points in REGULATION vs needed overtime to accumulate.
Kobe                         Jordan
4x vs 1                 1x vs 4 (1 double overtime)
(Kobe 1x 62 points in 3 qtrs vs Mavs 61 points total as a team)

-Score 45+ points in at least 4 straight games
Kobe            Jordan
2x                 0

-Score at least 30+ points consecutive games steak
Kobe            Jordan
16                 11

-Score at least 35+ points consecutive game steak
Kobe           Jordan
13                9

-Score 50+ points in a half
Kobe          Jordan
1x               0

-Amount of streaks scoring 30+ points in at least 10 consecutive games
Kobe           Jordan
2x                1x

 

(and Kobe was the 2nd option from age 21 to 25 vs MJ with the keys to the city)

Kobe vs Jordan 50 point games regular season & playoffs.

Kobe           Jordan
25x             39x

During Jordan's 39 50+ point games he didn't attempt a single 3 pointer 15x and attempted less than 2 3pts 27 times. He made more than 2 3pts 10x. He didn't MAKE a 3pt 22x. This is why he couldn't score 60 points in regulation (1 of 5), or score 50 through 3 quarters (0 for 39), or score 40 in a half (0 for 172), or 50+ in 4 consecutive (0x), or average 40ppg for a calendar month (0 for 65 months), or score 50 in a half (0x), and so on and so on,.. 

Meanwhile, during Kobe's 25 50+ point games he attempted at least 3 3pts in all 25 games. In only one game did he only make 1. In only 4 games did he make at least 2. In 20 of the 25 50+ games he made at least 3 3ptrs and as many as 9,...doing so twice and made exactly 8 once. He made 5 or more 3ptrs 9 times. This is why he could score 60 points in regulation (4 of 5), or score 50 through 3 quarters (6 of 25), or score 40 in a half (4 for 133), or 50+ in 4 consecutive games (1x), or average 40ppg for a calendar month (4x), or score 50 in a half (1x), so on and so on,...

A more detailed look at their 50 point games:

Total 2pt FGA
Kobe           Jordan
849             1403

Total 3pt FGA
Kobe           Jordan
219              76

Total 3pt FG makes
Kobe           Jordan
106             40

2pt FG%
Kobe           Jordan
54.7            55.5

3pt FG%
Kobe           Jordan
48.4           52.6

FG attempts per game
Kobe           Jordan
33.96         35.97

Total 3pt FGAPG
Kobe.           Jordan
8.76             1.9

Total 3pt FG makes per game
Kobe.           Jordan
4.2               1.0

Comparing their 60 point games 5 vs 5 games for both players. (Both players from 21 to 34)

60 point games in regulation
Kobe           Jordan
4x                1x

Total 2pt FGA
Kobe           Jordan
184              204

Points per game
Kobe           Jordan
65.8           63.6

Total Field goal attempts per game
Kobe          Jordan
36.8          40.8

2pt attempts per game
Kobe          Jordan
27.2           38 even

2pt% per game
Kobe          Jordan
59%           57%

Total 3pt FGA
Kobe          Jordan
48              14

3pt attempts per game
Kobe          Jordan
9.6             2.8

3pt makes per game
Kobe          Jordan
5                0.56

3pt% per game
Kobe           Jordan
52%            21%

Again, consider what Kobe did and remember that he was the "2nd option" to Shaq from age 21 to 25 (5 years), while MJ had the keys to the city from day one.

How is this possible...??? 

I've surveyed them all. 

 

Kobe Bryant is pound-for-pound the best player and the most lethal weapon the game of basketball has ever seen.

 

THE G.O.A.T!