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Wherever People Have Kobe Bryant Ranked Isn’t Relevant

Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports

People truly like to rank things. It makes for good fodder. It also makes for good debate. However, relevantly speaking at least, every ranking ever done in the history of mankind are done so from one person’s or group’s perspective — which is a polite way of saying that all rankings are a somewhat educated slotting of things based off numbers, eyeballs and opinions.

No matter, though. People go bonkers whenever rankings are released. Especially when their favorite player/team/thing isn’t placed wherever they think it should be. Honestly, hell has no scorn like fandom run rampant when fanatics feel like their favorite thing is being slighted.

The latest example: Kobe Bryant being ranked 93rd in ESPN’s #NBARank has resulted in the mean streets of Twitter going ballistic. Even more so than usual, because heaven forbid an aging player whose legacy is that of an all-timer is slotted somewhere behind Timofey Mozgov.

Many people already have issues with ESPN. Whether that stems from some SEC bias rumors in college football, the embracing of debate Bristol has done or whatever else, humans are quick to want to pounce on everything the worldwide leader does or says.

Los Angeles Lakers fans are quick to point out the names ahead of Jelly Bean Jr. Mozgov being the best example, as Kobe die-hards don’t want to acknowledge the possibility that a somewhat journeyman-ish big — who’s much better than given credit for — could be better than the guy who has five NBA rings in his trophy case.

The anger, which is often misguided, begs to have a question asked: Why do people care that much about rankings?

Rankings are meant as a guide of sorts at most, an opinion at the least, and is by no means gospel. No NBA titles are won because of preseason rankings, people are or are not getting into the Naismith Hall of Fame because “Media Person X” slotted JaKarr Sampson fourth in all of undrafted forwards from a few years ago, nor will a computer screen explode in a person’s house, resulting in shards of laptop pieces being hurled into the readers’ eyeballs.

Thing is, too; many outlets do rankings of all sorts. Not only ESPN. Using the apparent Kobe Bryant slight as an example — SLAMOnline has the oft-injured superstar 28th in the entire league, yet the outrage over his slotting there hasn’t been met with any form of backlash because — even though 28 isn’t as high as some Lakers fans would like — it hasn’t popped on their collective radars.

Maybe that’s the lack of sensationalism in Bryant being ranked lower than his usual to -10 ranking or because people respect SLAM more than ESPN, but I tend to believe it has more to do with people’s desire to feel outraged over everything and/or the possibility that there’s some kind of bias against their favorite team or player — which they can later use in times they need to justify any perceived negatives surrounding their team and merely claiming [insert outlet who didn’t write or talk about them positively] as biased.

Generally, there are no biases from larger outlets. Sure, certain blogs or team-specific sites are going to have a feel of homerism, because that’s the point of those, but ESPN isn’t ranking Kobe Bryant 93rd because they have an agenda against him or the Lakers. In reality, because ratings draw money, if anything at all, ESPN probably roots for the Lakers’ success and indirectly hopes Bryant finds the fountain of youth.

The point being that rankings are never ideal. It isn’t an exact science. They’re merely opinions often times put in slideshow format. Sure, some people will use them as a way to garner pageviews or get eyeballs to the picture-box, but it’s their own credibility riding the line when they actually do misrepresent the slotting of players in a seriously uneducated way. An example being, if someone was ever actually thirsty enough for attention to do so, would be ranking LeBron James outside the top five.

Nevertheless, Kobe Bryant is an aging superstar. In fact, he has already aged — poorly. He’s injured often, his playing style can be used as evidence that he hurts the team more than helps them and not a single soul on the planet has ever beaten Father Time. He’s undefeated. Even Bryant, whose work ethic and desire can’t come under question, can’t will himself to be younger, more athletic or healthier.

Rankings are rankings and it’s meant to be fun. Everyone calm down. As already alluded to, not a single ranking on the entire global connection device known as the Internet has ever decided the actual worth of whatever it was they were ranking.

So, stop being offended, feeling wronged or whatever other outrage flowing through your veins you currently feel. The NBA season starts soon enough and we’ll find out just how valuable Kobe Bryant is to the Los Angeles Lakers. Proof is in the pudding or something — likely something, but pudding was ranked ahead of Jell-O in the factual-proof-database.

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