I’ve been waiting to do this for a while now so here goes. Kobe Bryant is better than Lebron James.
Despite the recent attempts by Nike to sell more shoes, LBJ shouldn’t even be in the same conversation as Kobe, let alone puppet commercials that depict the two as best friends.
Don’t get me wrong. Lebron is probably the most athletic player in NBA history. He can jump higher, drive faster, and dunk stronger than any player in the league. He can virtually score at will, and his backside block-from-behind has become a trademark.
I’m just not ready to crown him as the league’s best player, or even the best scorer.
James is 25 years old. In his seventh year in the league, he has one MVP award and has only appeared in the NBA Finals once. Bryant had three titles by his sixth year.
But what about the undisputed-greatest-of all-time, Michael Jordan?
Jordan didn’t get his first NBA Championship until he was 28 years old in his seventh year in the league. But by that age, he had played three years at North Carolina, led the league in scoring four consecutive years, and had two MVP awards while missing most of his sophomore season with a broken foot.
For Lebron to be considered greater than either Kobe or Jordan, he would have to win the next three NBA titles, lead the league in scoring at least two of those years, and win at least one more MVP award.
Given his success this season, the MVP and scoring title are probably a lock. But the game has changed. With the exception of the Spurs’ recent run, dynasties are becoming less and less common. Even if he did win the next three titles, he would still have to shake off the “Shaq-effect” like Kobe did last year.
I haven’t even mentioned the weaknesses in his game. Lebron still can’t hit an open 25-foot jumper to save his life. Most of his points come in the paint, half of which come off the “crab-dribble” that refs are too intimidated to call traveling.
Bryant’s game is complete. He can shoot the ball lights out up to 40 feet. He can bust off dribble-drives, pass, and play lockdown defense. Most importantly, you can trust him to take the lost shot. He’s made seven game-winners this season alone.
If I’ve offended any Cleveland fans in this process, just relax. Take comfort in the fact that Lebron will probably be wearing a Knicks jersey next year anyway, so if he doesn’t win it all this year, he never will.