It’s a day of statements. The rowdy emcee on the mic at the LA Coliseum anointed Phil Jackson the undisputed greatest coach of all time, while Phil wore that stupid “X” hat that looked like something that you’d make at a kiosk in the mall.
And now Dwyane Wade is making a statement of his own: Kobe Bryant is the best basketball player in the game today.
“I believe that Kobe Bryant is still the best player in the game, his experience and his overall talent. It’s not taking away from LeBron, it’s not taking away from Carmelo, it’s not taking away from myself,” Wade told ESPN Radio Chicago. “Kobe has been in the game longer than the rest of us, he’s older than us, he’s smart with the game. He’s the better player.”
Wade’s proclamation falls directly in line with our own Austin Burton’s comparison between Kobe and Derek Jeter.
Nevermind the ring count: This is how Kobe has truly set himself apart from Shaq. For any athlete, once they stop talking about your actual talent and statistics and instead fawn over your “desire” and “clutch” and “mental toughness,” you’ve made it to a different level of legend status. Michael Jordan, Bill Russell, Lance Armstrong, Brett Favre … this is the class Kobe has been on the doorstep of entering for years, the class everybody wanted to put him in, the class he finally joined last night with his first post-Shaq championship and Finals MVP.
Wade’s support for Kobe lies in Mamba’s basketball intelligence, an amorphous, hard-to-define attribute. That’s different from the general praise we hear about LeBron – his freakish athleticism, his strength, his vertical jump. Like the rest of our world swept up in the debate about “the greatest,” Wade defines Kobe as having attributes that others still haven’t attained.
Source: Real GM