I don't like him. I wouldn't chill at the crib with him.

He isn't my favorite player.

I'll forever hold him accountable for volunteering information about Shaquille O'Neal that he had no business telling.

But you know what?

That doesn't mean I can't appreciate what Kobe Bryant does on the basketball court.

As Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers gear up for the NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics, (Game 1 mercifully starts tonight) I think we need to pause and appreciate Bryant for what he is.

The third best player of my lifetime, behind the two MJ's (I was born in 1982).

You could make arguments for any number of people – Larry Bird, Hakeem Olajuwon, Patrick Ewing, O'Neal, Charles Barkley, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Allen Iverson even LeBron James – but none of them combined the defensive prowess, competitiveness, scoring ability and clutch shooting of Bryant.

That's not to say they weren't great, but that we should appreciate what's in front of us. One of the epidemics in our culture is a lack of perspective.

A lot of times we live in the moment and appreciate it but are unable to place it in its proper context. That's the reason there are so many instant classics and "best ever's” in our society. It's really a crisis that needs to be addressed.

Which is why, regardless of how you feel about him or his off-the-court transgressions, you have to appreciate him on the court.

There are plenty of people I don't like, but that doesn't mean I don't respect what they do.

Bryant has helped take the Lakers to three-straight NBA Finals, seven in his 14-year NBA career and won four titles. A fifth would put him in a special class of winners and further diminish the "well, he had Shaq" rhetoric that is often used again him.

I won't be cheering for the Lakers tonight, but I sure will be appreciating whatever No. 24 does out there. You should too...

***Agree with Rell's showing #24 some props? Drop him a line here.***