Kobe Bryant laughed in a bemused and perplexed way when last year his NBA power ranking was slotted in at No. 24 by Sports Illustrated. In reaction, Bryant seemed comfortable just having people try to think of 23 players they'd rather have on their team. (Jeremy Lin and Smush Parker each came up with a hundred guys, but that's another story.)
Now SI has released its new power rankings. In the mag's list of the Top 100 Players of 2016 (the title alone reveals the predictive nature of the enterprise), Kobe Bryant ranks No. 54. That's behind Ty Lawson -- and Ty Lawson is drunk at practice sometimes. Ben Golliver, a Sports Illustrated writer who has played very little NBA basketball (as Kobe may note), explained the jarring #54 ranking by pouring salt on the wound: "there is a pretty good case to be made that Bryant shouldn't be on this list at all." Of course that would be ranking Bryant No. 101 or worse, had he missed the list entirely. (How you get from 101 to the much shapelier ignominy of #54 is a young Kobe kind of leap.) Then SI compared Kobe to Donald Trump, saying he had the "worst defensive rating" of any player at his position who played 1000-plus minutes. That's due to Kobe's penchant for gambling with "Donald Trump-like discretion."
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