You know how you know when a player is truly great? There are plenty of stats out there, but I go by one rule:
You’re surprised when he misses a shot.
In all honesty, as great as NBA players are, there aren’t a lot of guys I’ve seen in my lifetime that lived up to that standard. And I don’t just mean open 3’s in the corner when the ball’s been swung around. I mean any shot.
From my years of watching the NBA, the list of people who fill that role include MJ, Bird, Magic, Robert Horry (playoff version), John Stockton, and, now, of course, Kobe Bryant.
Think about it; if the Lakers-Suns game this weekend goes down to the final shot, and if Kobe launches one of his impossible 3’s from 25 feet out, wouldn’t you be shocked if it didn’t go down, no matter what the level of difficulty and no matter the number of hands in his face?
Now, imagine Steve Nash, LeBron James, Rip Hamilton, ANYBODY else taking that same shot. Would you be as surprised? Were you shocked last night when Nash missed a 3 in the corner seconds before Thomas hit his to send it to overtime? No, you weren’t, because Steve Nash isn’t at the same level.
Kobe Bryant may be many things. He may be a bad teammate. He may not be a good husband. He may petulant and selfish.
But be certain of this: Kobe Bryant is the greatest clutch basketball player on this planet and he is beginning to convince me that he is the greatest basketball player, period.