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Former Kobe Bryant Teammate Leaves Icon Out Of GOAT Debate

© Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Former NBA champion Metta World Peace recently sat down with a couple of other retired pros in Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller on their podcast The OGs.

Discussing myriad topics, including the infamous player-fan brawl dubbed “Malice at the Palace,” the 44-year-old was candid and entertaining throughout. Not that that was unexpected, as he’s long been one of the most honest and colorful characters in the league. Yet, during his hour-long interview, he turned heads with one particular comment made about his most famous Los Angeles Lakers teammate: Kobe Bryant.

Former Kobe Bryant Teammate Leaves Icon Out Of GOAT Debate

Kobe Bryant ‘Wanted It a Little Too Much’

Revealing Kobe Bryant’s mindset after winning a fifth NBA championship, Metta World tells Haslem and Miller that he believes the Los Angeles Lakers “could have [won] more but the dynamics was wild.”

“I think ’cause after Kobe got five [championships], he wanted number six. You saw it in his eyes. He wanted number six…”

Citing playoff games from the 2011 and 2012 NBA Playoffs in which the Lakers were winning “with a minute left,” Metta reveals his belief that Bryant pushed to try to reach the NBA Finals “instead of just letting it happen naturally.”

“I think Kobe, he really wanted number six,” he continues. “If he would have gotten number six we’re talking about, alright, it’s a tie for the GOAT. I think he wanted it a little too much.”

Having broached the topic, Miller then asked Metta who his GOAT was.

“Ima go with [Michael Jordan] honestly,” he says.

“So, Mike then Kobe, in your opinion?” Miller asks.

“I’m going Wilt [Chamberlain] second,” Metta responds, surprising Miller.

Then, without listing where he ranks Bryant at all, Metta says, “I think when LeBron [James’] career is over, when you crunch the numbers… it’s gonna read LeBron as number one.”

They “did what they had to do,” he says.


Many NBA fans may chafe at the seemingly incessant GOAT debates, growing tired of splitting hairs between league legends. In the last few years has the discourse grown louder, a byproduct of four-time NBA MVP and four-time NBA champion LeBron James‘ continuous rise.

The 39-year-old James has been compared to Hall of Fame shooting guard Michael Jordan since a teenager. Yet, since leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 3-1 comeback against the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 NBA Finals, the idea that the man dubbed ‘The Chosen One’ is the best basketball player of all-time has become very real.

The mythos of Jordan includes a 6-0 record in the NBA Finals that James could never match at 4-6. Jordan was also a 10-time scoring champion, showing an assertiveness that many detractors of James wish he had. Nonetheless, James became the NBA’s all-time leading scorer in Feb. 2023. That, and his being on the verge of being the only player in NBA history to surpass 40,000 career points, speaks to his scoring prowess and legendary longevity.

Consequently, using statistics to settle the GOAT debate has become exceedingly difficult. Even the eye test doesn’t help. There are skills that James exhibited a level of mastery in that Jordan didn’t and vice-versa. As two-time NBA champion Mike Miller described it, it’s an impossible debate.

Nonetheless, Los Angeles Lakers icon Kobe Bryant was also compared to Jordan throughout his career.

Like James, and he too had a chance to dethrone His Airness. Of course, James was initially compared to Jordan for his preternatural ability. Bryant was initially compared to Jordan for mimicking his playstyle and mentality. As they say, imitation is the best form of flattery. However, by the end of his career, the beloved Bryant’s dominance and influence truly were Jordan-like.


Comparing accolades, it’s difficult to say that Kobe Bryant had a case to be named over Michael Jordan as the greatest player of all time.

Bryant is 5-2 in the NBA Finals but has two Finals MVP trophies to Jordan’s six. Furthermore, he has one regular season MVP award to Jordan’s five. Jordan also won both a Rookie of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year award, which Bryant has not. Suffice it to say, though Bryant may compare to Jordan in terms of intangible stature, his career doesn’t quite compare to his idols.

Consequently, while it’s sure to be unpopular among the Lakers faithful, Metta World Peace was right to omit the late great from the GOAT debate. With that said, there are many ways to honor Bryant’s career.

For one, Bryant is the greatest player in Lakers franchise history. Some may point to players such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or Wilt Chamberlain. However, Bryant played the entirety of his storied 20-year career with the Lakers. Abdul-Jabbar and Chamberlain played a total of six and 10 seasons for other franchises, respectively. An 18-time All-Star, 15-time All-NBA selection, and 12-time All-Defensive selection, his individual accomplishments with the Lakers are second to none.

Secondly, as Bryant was long an ambassador of women’s basketball, by supporting the WNBA. This is especially true when considering his late daughter, Gianna, who Bryant took a special interest in coaching. Whether it’s following the best players from the L.A. Sparks or another franchise (Bryant was known to be fond of Seattle Storm guard Jewell Loyd), fans of Bryant would be serving his memory justice.

Lastly, embody the ‘Mamba Mentality.’ Work ethic, toughness, and discipline were all qualities that Bryant embodied and desired out of his teammates. Emulating those intangibles is a perfect way to show respect.


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