As much as I dislike Kobe, he has spent a great chunk of his career not being given proper recognition for his accomplishments. Jerry West is my all-time favorite Laker, and Magic was fun to watch, but I'd say the race is really between Kobe and Kareem. Both could score, both performed consistently for long periods of time, and both could defend (unlike Magic). Wilt Chamberlain was a great player, but by the time he came to L.A. his best years were behind him.
As to where Kobe fits on the all-time list of NBA greats, that's a tough question because there's so much subjectivity. I'd personally say top-10, with his final positioning there still to be determined. I still like Jordan, Wilt and Russell in my top three, but with Kobe and Lebron around it's tough to say how things might shake out 10 years from now.