His legacy is there for the taking. Kobe Bryant, considered by some the best player in the world, has been looking for vindication.

He wants vindication from the Michael Jordan comparisons and vindication from Shaquille O’Neal. He’ll never shake the Jordan comparisons. But that might not be such a bad thing. Jordan, arguably the most popular player in the history of basketball, is on an entirely different level. Bryant, although not to equal Jordan, is often mentioned in the same sentence.

Most players would kill to be talked about with Jordan. As for his connection to O’Neal, that is something he could do without.

He formed a great team with O’Neal, winning three straight championships. But Bryant needs to prove to the world he can win without the “Big Aristotle”. He needs to prove he can lead a team without deferring to someone else. Now is his chance. With the western conference considerably weaker than in past years, Bryant can vault his team into another stratosphere. Bryant had 26 points and nine assists in the Lakers 119-109 win over the Jazz on Tuesday. With a 2-0 lead, expect the Lakers to take care of business in five games. If they don’t, Bryant’s legacy will never be his own.