Kobe Bryant likes to tweet about numbers. Now, the Los Angeles Lakers star will have another number from ESPN to serve as motivation: 25th, his place in this year's ongoing #NBArank countdown of the league's top 500 players, as voted by the ESPN Forecast panel. Let's take a look at what this ranking means -- and what it doesn't.
1. This is a response to Kobe's injury
Let's put to rest any suspicion that the #NBArank voters are Kobe haters. As recently as April, when the same panel was asked to rate the league's top players, Bryant came in fourth. Amazingly, that was his highest finish since NBArank began prior to the 2011-12 season. Bryant finished seventh then, and sixth before last season, but his efforts carrying an injury-plagued Lakers squad back to the playoffs pushed him back into the league's top five players.
The same week Bryant's ranking was posted, he ruptured his Achilles' tendon in a game against the Golden State Warriors. Concerns about his recovery from that injury -- especially at the age of 35 -- explain his 21-spot drop in the rankings.