Dwyane Wade: ‘Kobe Bryant is the greatest player of our era’

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Dwyane Wade has always been very complimentary of Kobe Bryant, but with the Heat and Lakers meeting tonight, Wade kicked it up a notch.

Wade, via Michael Wallace of ESPN:

“I do feel — and I’ve said this before the last couple of years with LeBron [James], when he became the best player in our game — that Kobe Bryant is the greatest player of our era,” Wade said. “The Kobe Bryants aren’t around no more. There are good young players, but there will never be another Kobe. So every opportunity you get to [face him], you want to seize that moment.”

Maybe Shaquille O’Neal is too old for the era, but I’d rank him ahead of Kobe on an all-time list. Shaq was more dominant at his peak than Kobe and the best player on the three Lakers title teams they shared, though Kobe has the longevity edge.

Maybe LeBron James is too young for the era, but I’d rank him ahead of Kobe on an all-time list. If Kobe is still ahead, it’s only a matter of time until the younger LeBron passes him. (It’s also difficult to exclude LeBron, because Wade said “our era,” and he was drafted the same year as LeBron.)

But Tim Duncan definitely shares the era with Kobe, and the Spurs star has had a better career than Kobe. Kevin Garnett, also clearly of the same era, is right in the mix with Kobe.

Kobe has had a great career. Being the second- or even fifth-best player of an era is a huge accomplishment.

We don’t need to overinflate his credentials just because he’s nearing retirement.