Former Lakers champion calls Kobe Bryant best player ever over LeBron James and Michael Jordan

Jesse Cinquini
3 Min Read

Former Los Angeles Lakers champion Trevor Ariza called Kobe Bryant the best NBA player ever over LeBron James and Michael Jordan.

Ariza spent time playing alongside both Bryant and James. First, he was dealt from the Orlando Magic to Los Angeles during the 2007-08 season and played with Bryant and the Lakers up until the end of the 2008-09 season.

Fast forward all the way to the 2021-22 season, Ariza’s last season in the NBA, and he played 24 games with James and the Lakers during the regular season. He was long in the tooth at that stage of his NBA career and averaged just 4.0 points per game, so his second stint with the storied franchise was forgettable.

While Ariza played with both James and Bryant, his time playing with the latter stands out as more memorable. After all, he was a big part of the 2008-09 Lakers team that went on to beat the Magic in the 2009 NBA Finals. In 82 regular-season games played for the Lakers, he averaged 8.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game while shooting 46.0 percent from the field and 31.9 percent from 3-point territory.

He played solid basketball against the Magic — his former team — during the 2009 championship series. Ariza averaged 11.0 points and 6.0 rebounds per game while shooting 41.7 percent from behind the 3-point arc.

Unfortunately for Ariza, he never was able to win another title during his NBA career after 2009. He did get close though, as the 2017-18 Houston Rockets held a 3-2 series lead over Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors in the 2018 Western Conference Finals but proceeded to lose Games 6 and 7 of that series.

The debate of who the greatest basketball player of all time is probably won’t end anytime soon, but Jordan, James and Bryant stand out as three players who are almost always mentioned when discussing the best players in NBA history. Ariza was fortunate to have played with two of those three players and two of the best players of his generation.

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Jesse is a sports journalist with extensive experience covering the NBA. He has worked as a staff writer covering the Lakers’ dreaded rivals, the Boston Celtics, for SB Nation. He has also covered the New York Knicks for The Knicks Wall.