Back in 2014, ESPN.com ranked the late Kobe Bryant as the 40th-best player in the NBA. Of course, that didn't sit well with the Los Angeles Lakers legend, who bashed the sports website for his ranking.
Players like LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul were ahead of Kobe at that time. That wasn't a problem since Bron and KD were arguably the best two players on earth that year, but there were more stars ahead of Kobe in the controversial list.
Goran Dragic, DeMar DeRozan, Klay Thompson, Andre Drummond, Andre Iguodala and DeAndre Jordan also ranked higher than the Black Mamba, and he didn't take it well.
“I’ve known for a long time they’re a bunch of idiots,” Bryant when asked about his ranking.
Kobe knew how to get motivation from external factors but clarified the ranking wasn't very important for him.
“Honestly, all jokes aside, it really doesn’t bother me too much,” he added. “I’m going to do what I do regardless. And God willing I can stay healthy and if I wind up proving a lot of people wrong in the process that will just wind up being collateral damage.”
That year, Kobe played 35 games, posting 22.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.6 assists for the Lakers. After the 2011/12 season, injuries started to slow him down.
At age 35, Kobe was still having great performances on the court, doing something similar to what LeBron James is doing this campaign. We might have seen more of Kobe if he stayed healthy, but after 2013, his career wasn't the same.
This is not the same time Kobe had a questionable ranking on an ESPN list. Recently, they placed Kobe as the 9th best player of all time, something that raised plenty of eyebrows around the league. Kobe is widely considered at least a top-3 player of all time. Just imagine what he would've said if he learned about that ranking.