... and with that, we end the 2008-09 NBA season. The Lakers wrapped up the series in Orlando, and Kobe took home the Bill Russell Finals MVP trophy for the first time in his career.
So where do we go from here? All the talk postgame was where does Kobe rank in NBA history now that he has a fourth title (and first without Shaq), and where does Phil Jackson rank among best coaches of all-time.
The answer to both of those debates is very subjective, and I will offer my two cents on these questions.
1. I do not think Kobe is a Top 10 player of all-time... yet. He does have impressive career stats, and ofcourse, is one of the most feared players in the league. He just won his fourth title, though many think he got the first three because of Shaq. Regardless, there are still quite a few names that go ahead of Kobe when we're talking all-time greatness.
-Michael Jordan, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Shaq, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Julius Erving, Oscar Robertson, and I'm going to go with Jerry West to round out the top 10.
Right now, I would put Kobe in the top 20 of all-time. However, keep in mind that he still has a few great years left in him, which could very well vault him into the upper-echelon of greatness. Jordan didn't win his first ring until his late-20's. Kobe is 30 and has four. When all is said and done, Kobe could very possibly be one of the 10 greatest ever.
2. Phil Jackson has to be seriously considered as one of, if not the greatest coaches in NBA history. He set a new precedent by winning his 10th ring as a head coach this season, surpassing Red Auerbach's nine. Of course, people point out that Jackson had either Jordan or Kobe for all 10 of those rings... but Auerbach had Russell and others, and Pat Riley had Dwyane Wade, Kareem, Magic and James Worthy.
The argument here for a coach has to be viewed differently than that for a player. With a player, you have to account for their winning, as well as their career stats on the court. With coaches, the main basis for debate is how much they have won, and when it comes to titles, Jackson has done that more than any other coach. Not to mention he's won roughly 70 percent of the games he has coached. To me, this puts him at numero uno on the list, followed closely by both Auerbach and then Riley, with the likes of Greg Popovich and Lenny Wilkins to round out the top five.
Those are my two cents on the debate, but like I said, debating the greatness of players and coaches over different eras of basketball and state of the game is very subjective.