Kobe Bryant apparently bought a clue or something, as he's announced that next year, after the second installment of his $48.5M gift from Jimmerz Buss expires, he's retiring. I guess that he's seeing age and reality, while Jimmerz is seeing a picture of sister Jeanie with a shiv.
First, this is good news for Laker rebuilding. Stories have abounded that top free agents don't want to go to the Lakers because of Kobe.
Second, this is good news for Laker rebuilding. It takes his contract off the books just in time for an expanding NBA salary cap. The Lakers can probably either nibble at the edges or do some 1-year contracts for 2015-16, then do two max contracts the next year.
Note to Mitch Kupchak: Please do these moves yourself; get Jeanie Buss to kill Jimmerz if necessary.
Third, of course, everybody from Bill Simmons down is going to do Kobe legacy watch over the next 12 months.
Well, Bill already started with his Hall of Fame pyramid in his 2010 book, putting Kobe No. 8 then.
And, looking at that list, I'm not sure I'd move him up, five years later.
He certainly doesn't pass Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson or Larry Bird. All three made teammates better in a way Kobe didn't. Bill Russell brought something incredible to defense, and to leadership. I'm not sure I'd rank him as high as Simmons, not just countering Simmons' Boston homerism, but for other reasons, but I'd still keep him ahead of Kobe.
I'd keep Tim Duncan ahead of Kobe, too, as the modern equivalent of the players above.
That leaves Kareem and Wilt.
Like Shaq, I could see dropping Wilt behind Kobe. But, his own moods issues aside, I'll keep Kareem ahead. So, Wilt falls to No. 8, behind Kobe, who's in No. 7, with Duncan moving up a notch, too.
So, scratch that. I'm moving Jerry West to No. 7, keeping Timmy and Kobe where they are, and dropping Wilt two spots.
Simmons has a big fail here, mainly in not making allowances for the three-point line with West. Like Wilt and MJ, he might have had a 30-point career scoring average, had the 3-ball been around in his day.