Magic Johnson defends his claim that Kobe Bryant is the best Laker ever

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Kobe Bryant brought the curtain down on a glittering NBA career this season after 20 great years in the league which yielded five championships with the L.A. Lakers. 

The 37-year-old achieved almost every collective and individual accolade available in the game and will be enshrined into the Naismith Hall of Fame.  

On top of the five rings, the Black Mamba was a regular season MVP, two-time finals MVP, 18-time All-Star, two-time scoring champion and so much more; the list is endless. 

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Simply put, he was one of the greatest players to ever grace the hardwood and ended his incredible career in stunning fashion as he dropped 60 points on the Utah Jazz in his final NBA game in April. 

Bryant took an astonishing 50 shots to reach that mark but was not begrudged by anybody as the stage belonged to him and he owned it. 

Since his retirement, an inevitable debate has ensued, is he the best Laker of all-time?

Lakers legend and Hall of Famer Magic Johnson certainly believes so and made this statement prior to Bryant's last game.

Not everybody has Kobe down as the best player to ever don the Purple and Gold uniform with others opting for Magic himself or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. 

Johnson, however, will not be swayed in his thinking and has defended his claim. 

In a recent appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” Magic said: "He and I both have five championships. He did it his way with dominating the scoring and really putting the team on his back. And I did it my way with my leadership and really trying to make sure that I put our team in a position to win. And I did that. At the end of the day, who cares, whether it’s him or I?

"But he has represented this city and the Lakers organisation as well as anybody could."

Fans of the Lakers won't care too much as they're just appreciative of watching some true greats of the game play on their team. 

But it's a debate that can rumble on forever and may never reach a definitive conclusion. Essentially, it comes down to styles, as Magic put it. 

If you prefer scoring and competitiveness you will opt for Kobe. If you like flashy passing and leadership, Magic is your man, and if you have a preference for post-play and skyhooks then Abdul-Jabbar may be your pick.

To the players in question, being classed as the best Laker ever or not won't matter too much to them, instead, they'd like to see the franchise get out of the mire it's currently in and return to the top. 

“Kobe and I have mutual respect for each other. It’s all about winning," Magic added. "Both of us were about that, our will to win was high. Now we see these Lakers and both of us can’t stand that, so we are just hoping we can get back”

In order to do that, the team needs to bring in a player to follow in the footsteps of the greats that have gone before them and make the Los Angeles-based organisation great again. 

Having secured the number two pick in the recent draft lottery, the Lakers will have the opportunity to select a talented young player that can help to change the fortunes of the Pacific Division team. 

Mitch Kupchak and the front office are expected to select either Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram. Both players have the ability to be future stars in the NBA and in the City of Angels, but talent alone won't get it done.

If anybody is to come into L.A. and fill the huge boots left by Bryant, they must match the work-ethic and dedication he put into his craft on a daily basis. 

As the great man said, "Torches never get passed. You've got to earn that."

Roy Hibbert
LA Lakers
Pacific Division
Western Conference
Kobe Bryant

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