Whenever y’all secure a copy of the 2008 NBA Finals on DVD (or if you have them stored at home on a different medium), you will have the joy, during game 1, of hearing Mark Jackson recount his conversation with Kobe Bryant.
Jackson, admittedly trying to suck up to LA Bamba, tells Kobe that he is now neck and neck with Michael Jordan for the title of the greatest basketball player in NBA history. Kobe’s so good in fact, Jackson told him, that he is playing Larry Holmes to Michael Jordan’s Muhammad Ali.
What started out as an attempt to make a supreme compliment ended as a monumental insult.
“I’m not Larry Holmes,” Bryant snapped.
Bryant knows his classic boxing. No, Kobe, you aren’t Larry Holmes. He was a chump.
But you’re no Ali, either.
Kobe's more like George Foreman in the early rounds of the fight in Zaire. The presumption is that he's better than Ali, but as Foreman tires, doubts about his stature begin to surface.
If we bring the analogy back to professional basketball, Kobe is more like one of the Spurs championship teams (ie., great, but not an all-timer) while MJ is the 1990s Bulls (unquestioned all-time greatness). And if the Fakers fail to make the Finals this year, as some are starting to predict, Kobe may end up more like the two Rockets championship teams (very good, but not great).