Here is the rest of my Top 5 Today list. Remember, this is my personal opinion, but I encourage your feedback on why yours may be different or any additional feedback that supports my thoughts.
#3 SG/SF Kevin Durant
-Arguably the most improved player over the last 3 years. Dude keeps improving in every aspect of his game (offensively speaking for the most part). Since entering the league, only 4 short years ago, he's increased his PPG each year by 5 points, followed by increases each season in assists and rebounds as well. He's proved he can close games and he's earned the respect of not only his teammates, but dudes across the league. As much as I hate to say this, I'm going to anyway... "He's the best scorer in the league today!" Playing out of OKC doesn't help him put his talents on display nearly as much as Kobe or LeBron, but the fact that he's still considered by many as the new face of the NBA is certainly saying something. The scariest part of it all is Durant could be even better if he had the body to match his game. With a year or two more to continue to develop and perfect his game, I think Durant will start generating talk around the league about possibly being one of the best to step on the hardwood in the last 10-15 years. My personal thoughts... Durant is the TRUTH!!!
Strengths: Scorer, Clutch, Leadership, Potential
Weaknesses: Strength, Post Game, Defense
Improvements I'd Like to See: Body, Defense, Recruitment of Players to OKC (to compete for Ring)
#2 SG Kobe Bryant
-"Black Mamba"! With a nickname like that, you have to be considered for the top spot on any basketball list. And if you asked me 2 or 3 years ago to list my Top 5, Kobe would've probably appeared one spot ahead of this (even as much as I loved Bron and hated Kobe then, I recognized the venom he possessed). Kobe has transformed the game of basketball and has proven to every single player on an NBA roster that hard work pays off. For over 10 years now, Kobe has been the consensus pick among the WORLD as "One of the Greats". He's proven himself on every level (w/ the exception of college for obvious reasons... his game was ready for NBA talent at only 17 years of age) and his recent USA Gold Medal is proof that Kobe is WCT (World Class Talent). Personally, I've never been a fan of him (cocky early in his career & selfish throughout his career), but I've never once denied what he has accomplished. These alone are worth noting: Top 10 scorer of all-time, a league MVP award, a 5-time NBA Champion, an Olympic Gold Medalist, and an 81-point individual thrashing of Toronto. With all that said (I could go on for days about this guy, but will move on for your reading eyes), it's remarkable how much Kobe really appreciated the game. He played all 84 feet of the court every time he stepped on the hardwood, so there was never a dull minute in his effort. I'm forever grateful that he played during my era of being a basketball fan! There is no doubt I'll mention to my kids and even grandkids about the game this man had. When he does finally decide to step away from basketball, the WORLD will lose "ONE OF THE 3 GREATEST EVER TO PLAY BASKETBALL (yes...I said it)". My personal thoughts... this quote and/or comment I saw someone post on Facebook sums them up - President Obama calls Kobe to let him know his Bulls have their number (meaning the Bulls beat his Lakers once already) this year, to which Kobe responds, "Tell them I'll pick up after the 5th ring" (not sure if you get this or not, but Kobe has 5 rings (NBA Championships) already and him basically saying to the PRESIDENT... have them come talk to me after accomplishing that, is just ballsy). The fact that this man has that type of demeanor when it comes to basketball proves he's on a different level in every single aspect of the game.
Strengths: SCORER, DEFENDER, LEADER (in the latter part of his career), COLD-BLOODED CLUTCH (he gets all CAPS because he's that good)
Weaknesses: Let me get back to you on that...
Improvements I'd Like to See: Attitude Toward Other Greats
#1 SF LeBron James (Was there any doubt?)
-"Chosen One" Came into the league with the weight of 5 planets on his back and has done nothing but exceed every expectation. There has never been another player like this guy... He makes teammates better and has single handily been responsible for the making of some of his teammates' careers. He rebuilt basketball in the city of Cleveland and took them from worst to best (record wise) in the league. He's carried his teams to the NBA Finals, made them a constant contender in the playoffs, won back-to-back league MVP's, and set the bar for almost every statistical category that is recorded in history. It was clear for me as a fan of the game that Bron would make an impact like no other in the NBA. Scoring, rebounding, assisting, and playing defense are all found in his arsenal. Every time he plays in an NBA game, there is another record falling to his waist side. Leaving Cleveland has put a bit of a sore spot on his career but he has the opportunity to remove that when NBA Championships are won. It is only a matter of time until this happens... TRUST ME! Personally, I had hoped he would stay in Cleveland and won a ring the hardest way possible, by taking the worst team to the best team, but with his best interests in mind (And the front office not making the right moves), it was easier for me to accept him leaving for South Beach. I mentioned above that Kobe would have probably been ahead of Bron 2 or 3 years ago and here is why... Bron doesn't possess that clutch bone that all the "greatest ever" have displayed throughout their careers. Bron wants the ball at the end of games, that is clear, but the confidence it takes to do something with hasn't been put on display. If he ever develops this clutch trait (don't think you can develop it... personally, I think it's something you're born with), I think it can really boost his name up the "greatest ever" list, but without it, he's merely just one of the "greatest statistical" players ever. Two separate lists that are recognized and appreciated by every "real" ball player. I say all that to not discount what he's done or will do, but for the reasoning as to why he couldn't touch Kobe until the last year or 2. Back to why he's the best in the WORLD now though! There is no need for me to blog about his stats because those can be found on any website - I just want to share one more sentence as to why he's at the top of this list (a quote actually). "Bron is a force of motion that is hard to understand but easy to love... this is because you're still trying to figure out how someone can be that good - why he'll never be duplicated, why he'll never be solved, why he'll never be stopped, and why he'll never be forgotten, ever!" - quote by Francis H. Ramirez III -- My personal thoughts... Aside from Michael Jordan, my all time favorite basketball player to walk this earth. A game that can't be summed up with just words... more like noises you make from watching the stuff he does.
Strengths: Scorer, Rebounder, Passer, Physical Attributes, Leadership
Weaknesses: Not Clutch, Confidence (not the same as the other greats)
Improvements I'd Like to See: CLUTCH, RINGS!!!
And #1 gets a video appearance as well:
Again, these are my thoughts and I'm interested in hearing all your feedback(good or bad)!
Until next time...