Former NBA star and current ESPN tv analyst Jalen Rose apparently had the Bird over the Mamba on his All-Time players’ list. According to Rose, his ranking goes as follows:
Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Russell, Magic Johnson, LeBron James, Larry Bird, Kobe Bryant, Wilt Chamberlain, Shaquille O’Neal, and Oscar Robertson.
It’s a solid list overall, but Larry Bird’s placement, in particular, can be seen as controversial. Though Bird is indeed a special talent (12x All-Star, 2x Finals MVP, 3x NBA Champion), his career was decimated by injuries in the latter years. He posted career averages of 24.3 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 6.3 assists while shooting 49.6 percent from the field, 37.6 percent from beyond the arc, and 88.6 percent from the free-throw line. Impressive stats, for sure.
As for Kobe, his 5 Championships and 2nd place placement on the NBA’s All-Time scoring list usually have him within the top-5. He averaged 25.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 4.7 assists and shot 44.7 percent overall, 32.9 percent from the 3-point line, and 83.7 percent from the charity stripe.
Kobe was the more successful player overall and had a longer-lasting tenure in the league. Nonetheless, Rose seems convinced that Bird was better.
He certainly has a case… but not everyone will agree. What do you think?