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Basketball Comparison Essay Research Paper Clash of

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Basketball Comparison Essay, Research Paper

Clash of the Titans

Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon em.

(2,v, 77, Twelfth Night.)

What makes a great basketball player? The National Basketball Association (NBA) consists of many talented players, all of whom have the potential to become great. Among the prolific scorers, towering shot blockers, diligent rebounders, and creative passers, none is more deserving for the title of great player than Vince Carter of the Toronto Raptors and Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers. Both players have developed their skills very quickly and have emerged as the NBA s brightest stars. Though each player covets the title, Carter is more likely to become the next basketball great. His leadership qualities, solid defense, and offensive prowess make his basketball skills superior to those of Kobe Bryant.

Great basketball players are often characterized as great leaders. There is no doubt in Toronto who the team leader is. Vince Carter s presence in Toronto has made basketball popular in Canada and has improved the team s performance. In every year since Carter s inaugural season, the Raptor s record has improved noticeably. Many people agree that he is also the main reason the Toronto Raptors made the playoffs for the first time in franchise history last season. Carter may not be the most vocal player on the team, but according to basketball analyst, Marv Albert,

Vince is a leader by example. Give him the ball in crunch time and get out of the way. Let [Charles] Oakley do the barking, Vince will work the magic. Oakley can tell ‘em how it’s done, but Vince will show you.


Carter also displays his leadership qualities on an international level. During the 2000 Summer Olympics, he led the United States basketball team in scoring and eventually capturing the gold medal. Unlike Carter, Kobe Bryant s leadership attributes is questionable and has been criticized by his team on many occasions. Take the case of Bryant s reply to head coach, Phil Jackson s instructions to let Shaquille O’Neal be the focal point of the offense. Kobe said, Turn my game down? I need to turn it up. I’ve improved. How are you going to bottle me up? (http://www.alleyoop.org/kobe/article2) Bryant s response to his coach s instructions is selfish. Instead of making the sacrifice for his team and going with a proven winning formula, that is, let Shaq take the shots, Bryant makes himself the Laker s first offensive option without the approval of the coach, and more importantly, the team members. As long as Bryant believes that the individual is more important than the team, he will never be as great a leader as Vince Carter is.

When a young player takes on the role of a leader, his desire to win grows immensely, and many coaches agree that it is defence that will win games. Vince Carter is one of the best defensive players in the league. His long arms and extraordinary athleticism allow him to match up with any shooting guard and most forwards. In today s NBA, it is quite rare to see a shooting guard defending a forward but what Carter lacks in size, he makes up for in quickness. His defensive numbers are quite surprising considering the fact he is not known as a defensive player. Carter amasses an average of 3.70 defensive rebounds per game, 1.33 steals per game and 1.15 blocks per game. (http://www.nba.com/playerfile/vince_carter/career_statistics.html?nav=TextNavBar) It should also be noted that Carter must defend against players five inches taller than he and that there is no other intimidating presence on the floor to back up Carter on defence. Carter s counterpart, Kobe Bryant, averages about the same; 3.10 defensive rebounds per game, 1.22 steals per game and 0.67 blocks per game. (http://www.nba.com/playerfile/ kobe_bryant/career_statistics.html?nav=TextNavBar) Because of the gifted defensive players on the floor alongside Bryant, his numbers should be significantly higher than Carters , but in contrast, they are lower. Bryant does not need to worry about any player dribbling past him because he has the seven foot one inch giant, Shaquille O Neal, playing behind him. No player in their right mind would want Shaquille O Neal, the most intimidating player in the NBA, guarding them over Kobe Bryant. Kobe only has to defend against the shot, a job the numbers show, he does not do well. As a result, Vince Carter is a more versatile defender than Kobe Bryant.

Although defense is an important part of the game, most people will agree that offense is usually what separates the good players from the great players. Probably the most explosive and innovative offensive player in the league, Vince Carter has been a consistent scorer since the beginning of his professional career. He has accumulated an average of 24.0 points per game, 0.460 field goal percentage, 1.90 offensive rebounds per game and 3.6 assists per game in his career. (http://www.nba.com/playerfile/kobe_bryant /career_statistics.html?nav=TextNavBar) Defenders usually pick their poison when dealing with the Toronto Raptor s go-to man. His physique and quickness allow him to drive strong to the basket or release a quick jump shot. Chris Wallace, General Manager of the Boston Celtics, says,

Vince Carter is the most explosive athlete that is out there at the two-guard position. His overall game started to catch up to his athleticism this past season, and that augers well for his future.


Similar to Carter, Kobe Bryant is an excellent offensive player, with a wide variety of offensive weapons. Bryant is able to break down the defender with his quick dribble or stroke a jump shot from the perimeter. Throughout his career, the former, National High School Player of the Year averages 18.2 points per game, 0.454 field goal percentage, 1.20 offensive rebounds per game and 3.3 assists per game. (http://www .nba.com/playerfile/kobe_bryant/career_statistics.html?nav=TextNavBar) The largest discrepancy between Vince Carter and Kobe Bryant is the points per game. Vince averages about six more points a game than Kobe, and his average increases significantly each year. Although Bryant s offensive skills have enormous potential, how can he currently be considered the next great player when he averages fewer than twenty points a game? Because Vince Carter excels offensively, and his numbers surpass those of Kobe Bryant, there is no argument as to who is the better offensive player.

The title of great player can only be applied to one who excels in many areas of the game. Despite the fact that Vince Carter and Kobe Bryant are both amazing players, Carter s leadership skills, strong defense, and explosive offense make him a more probable choice to obtain the title of greatness. When Carter is proclaimed as a basketball great, the only question that will remain is: Which player will succeed him as the next great player?


Alleyoop Network. Quotes. The Kobe Bryant Zone. http://www.alleyoop.org/kobe/quotes, 1996

Birnbaum, Darrin. Head to Head. Sports Talk.

http://www.sportstalk.com/nba/head/head_3-31-00.shtml, 31 March. 2000

Divine Revelation Inc. Vince Carter Article Vince Carter 15. http://www.angelfire.com/ny3/VinceCarter15/ss.html, 2000

National Basketball Association. Player Statistics. NBA.com. http://www.nba.com/playerfile/kobe_bryant/career_statistics.html?nav= TextNavBar, 21 Feb. 2001

National Basketball Association. Player Statistics. NBA.com. http://www.nba.com/playerfile/vince_carter/career_statistics.html?nav= TextNavBar, 21 Feb. 2001

Shakespeare, William. Twelfth Night. London: Oxford University Press, 1914.

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