Kobe Bryant’s season-long parade continued against the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night, and Dirk Nowitzki didn’t leave until handing out a compliment for the Los Angeles Lakers star.
According to Greg Beacham of the Associated Press, Nowitzki compared Kobe to NBA legend Michael Jordan.
Dirk on Kobe: "He's our Michael Jordan for our generation. He's one of the best to ever lace 'em up. It's been a pleasure and an honor."
— Greg Beacham (@gregbeacham) January 27, 2016
Not only should Kobe’s NBA career be remembered and respected this season, but his legacy is also an important topic. Soon enough, rookies will say they grew up watching and mimicking LeBron, and aging veterans like Nowtizki will recall what it was like to compete against young LeBron.
Plus, the praise coming from Nowitzki is significant. The longtime Mavericks standout is perhaps the top international player of Kobe’s generation.
So often, though, we attempt to compare which players were better. Jordan was the best of his generation. Bryant, who entered the league as MJ was exiting his prime, is rivaled only by Tim Duncan when considering awards but especially championships.
But it truly doesn’t matter.
Instead of fighting over whether Jordan or Bryant should be ranked higher in a subjective ranking, it’s commendable to acknowledge that both Hall of Fame-worthy players impacted the sport in a remarkable way.
Both talents served as on-court standards of excellence and inspired the next generation of basketball lovers, even if they never reached the NBA.
Bryant earned the right to pass the torch from Jordan, who did the same — just like Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell before them.