To everybody’s surprise, 2x NBA champion Kenny Smith ranked LeBron James as a top 10 player at best. And to aggravate Los Angeles Lakers fans further, he believes Kobe Bryant is not even top 10 all time.
"LeBron is in my top 10 (of all-time) BUT he's No. 10… Kobe is not in my top 10." @TheJetOnTNT isn't putting LeBron or Kobe anywhere near the top of the all-time list.
— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) July 7, 2020
LeBron James has established himself as one of the greatest of all time if not the greatest to ever play the game of basketball. The conversation has always been Michael Jordan vs Lebron James however, Kenny Smith says they are not even on the same level. LeBron’s accomplishments speak for themselves 4x MVP, 3x champion, and 3x FMVP. Even at the age of 35, he is second in the MVP leaderboard this season while playing lockdown defense on players.
As for Kobe Bryant, his position in the top 5 has always been argued. The 5x NBA champion is widely respected in the NBA community for his work ethic and unbelievable scoring records. The 90s players’ bias against jump-shooting teams is fairly obvious. Kenny Smith has Shaquille O’Neal, Larry Bird, Nate Robinson, Michael Jordan, and Magic Johnson in his top 5 list which reflects the kind of dominance and style he looks for in players.
Kenny smith states “ease of scoring” as the reason for omitting Lebron James and Kobe Bryant from his list
On the “Load Management” podcast, Kenny Smith was asked why he thinks LeBron James is not top 5 all-time. He believes scoring now is easier than it used to be. Changes in defensive rules have definitely fueled the scoring, however, the 3pt evaluation has given it a boost. He explains how tricky it is to compare players from different generations.
“It is so easy to score now that it’s difficult to judge a guy’s ability. I was a good scorer not even great scorer. I could get 17 points a game. LeBron James is great but in my opinion not in the top 5 of all time. Kobe Bryant is not in my top 10, maybe 11”
Players improving their range is an absolute necessity in the NBA at present. As James Harden once said “ducking required no skill at all. I have to work on my game every day to shoot the way I shoot. It requires skill”. It may not be entirely true to say ducking requires no skill at all but scoring now is definitely not easy given double teams and triple teams.
Every era has it’s advantages and disadvantages, scoring cannot be disrespected like that. If LeBron James wins the title this year against all odds he might establish his position in the all-time greats for Kenny Smith.