Kobe Bryant is, by all accounts, one of the best players in NBA history. Just how high Bryant ranks on the all-time list is (very much) up for debate but, on Tuesday, another contender for such an honor placed him in high esteem.
Legendary point guard Magic Johnson was quoted as part of the formal announcement that the Los Angeles Lakers would be retiring both of Bryant’s jersey numbers (No. 8 and No. 24), and he gave the recently retired swingman a huge compliment.
“This honor is very well deserved. Kobe was one of the greatest Lakers and NBA players of all-time and he’s definitely on my Mount Rushmore. I look forward to seeing BOTH of his jerseys be retired and celebrating this special day with Kobe and his family.”
Johnson is, perhaps purposefully, vague when it comes to distinguishing which Mt. Rushmore (NBA or Lakers) would include Bryant. Still, Los Angeles might be the only franchise in the league where it almost doesn’t matter. Because the Lakers employed the likes of Johnson, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal, Jerry West, Elgin Baylor and others, even placing Bryant on the franchise pedestal would be extremely lofty praise that jumps an entire level when considering the league in general.
Whether Bryant would actually deserve placement on either Mt. Rushmore is a genuinely debatable topic but having a person of the stature of Johnson bestow this type of love is meaningful. Of course, it has to be noted that Magic is now the president of basketball operations for the Lakers, giving him some motivation to be complimentary, but this likely won’t be the last time Bryant receives a compliment of the highest order from a prominent figure in the league.