Clear Thinkersí favorite basketball stathead Dave Berri knows. The answer may surprise you:
Drexlerís career averages top Kobeís marks with respect to shooting efficiency, rebounds, steals, blocked shots, and assists. And yet Kobe is considered by many to be the better player.
There appear to be three explanations for why Kobe is thought to be the better player. First . . . Kobe is the more prolific scorer. Of course, this is because Kobe leads Drexler in field goal attempts.
Another issue is that Kobe spent his career with the Lakers while Drexler played for Portland and Houston. In general, players for teams located in LA and New York tend to get more media exposure and therefore are thought of as better players.
And then there is the issue of championships won. People tend to think players on championship teams are better than those who toil for teams that tend to lose in the playoffs. Itís easy to point out the absurdity of such logic. Teams win championships and one can pick up a ring just because you happen to have the right teammates. After all, does anyone think Luc Longley (three titles) was a better center than Patrick Ewing (0 titles)? Or that Robert Horry (seven titles) was a better forward than Dominique Wilkins or Karl Malone (0 titles)? Despite such obvious arguments, people will note that Kobeís four titles must mean heís a better guard than Drexler (1 title).
Berri goes on to provide a fascinating analysis of the Olajuwon-Drexler-Barkley Rockets team of the mid-1990ís and explains how close that team came to being really good.
I attended the first game that Clyde the Glide played at the University of Houston as a freshman in the early 1980ís. I was amazed at his all-around talent from that first game and that was well before Drexler developed an outside shot, which he learned to do after he entered the NBA.
Drexler was an outstanding in all phases of the game. Itís pleasing that smart folks such as Berri are teaching us that such a well-rounded player is more valuable than the narrow scorers that NBA teams and their fans have traditionally coveted.