Kobe or LeBron?

February 20, 2011;  Kobe Bryant #24 of the West (Los Angeles Lakers) during the 2011 (60th) NBA All Star Game at Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles CA. The West defeated the East by the final score of 148-143.
February 20, 2011; Kobe Bryant #24 of the West (Los Angeles Lakers) during the 2011 (60th) NBA All Star Game at Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles CA. The West defeated the East by the final score of 148-143.

The debate rages on. Whom would you choose as the heir to the NBA throne of all-time greatness with the culturally iconic Michael Jordan removed from the game of basketball as a player? Kobe or LeBron? Of course, that is both a divisive and loaded question. Some people would slide with the more mercurial talents of Kobe Bryant. Others have staked their claim on the bull-massive LeBron James and his hard-charging ways as the heir apparent.

Michael Jordan has now entered the fray. And when Jordan speaks everyone listens. Widely considered to be the greatest NBA player of all-time, Jordan went on record and dropped some science on who he would pick as the better player.  Jordan gave the edge to Kobe, choosing his five NBA titles to LeBron’s one championship ring, as a measuring stick of what greatness is all about. Jordan’s comments more than stirred the pot on the topic.

Apparently his remarks got under LeBron’s skin in some kind of way or else he wouldn’t have pouted and said something along the lines that having more titles doesn’t necessarily make one the best player. It’s time for LeBron James to take his head out of the sand.  LeBron is confusing being the best in the game today with greatest over an entire body of work. LeBron might be the best physical specimen many people have ever seen on the basketball court.

However, Kobe has done more amazing things in a long period of time as evident by his 15th straight NBA All-Star appearance. MC Hammer’s “Too Legit to Quit” hit song fits LeBron’s ambitions to be the best ever well. But the rapper’s No. 1 smash “Can’t Touch This” is more aptly applied to Kobe. Bron-Bron simply can’t match what Kobe has done for nearly two decades. At least for now.

This is Kobe’s 17th year in the league. LeBron has 10 seasons of mileage on his legs. LeBron has won three regular season NBA MVP award. Kobe has earned two NBA Finals most valuable player honors and has taken home on league MVP. Kobe has put up 81 points in one game, the second-highest scoring output in an NBA contest, sitting just below Wilt Chamberlain’s magical 100.

LeBron has been “The Chosen One” since he was in high school.  His game is part Magic Johnson , part Oscar Robertson, part Connie Hawkins, part Maurice Lucas and part George Gervin rolled up into one brilliant sculpture of a basketball player. Kobe didn’t earned the nickname “Black Mamba” for nothing. Kobe can knockout an opponent quicker than a rattlesnake can strike.

When it comes to closing the deal of a basketball game, no one-not even the culturally iconic Jordan- has been deadlier-than Kobe. Jordan struck fear into the opposition just by walking on the court. While it has taken years for LeBron to eradicate his nice guy, late-game, pass-the-ball mentality, Kobe has brought a lethal, killer instinct to the league as soon as he stepped on the court. Both men bring similar traits that are amplified on the court.

Kobe and LeBron are Olympians. They both skipped college basketball to pursue their NBA dreams. The two are first-round draft picks-LeBron at No.1 to the Cleveland Cavaliers, while Kobe went No. 13 to the Charlotte Hornets (now Charlotte Bobcats) before he was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers.

They both hail from the Midwest in some capacity, Kobe graduating high school in Philadelphia and LeBron doing his thing in Ohio. And both Kobe and LeBron know how to take out their opponents with their will to win. LeBron’s teams (Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat) have a 13-5 edge over Kobe’s Lakers in head-to-head matchups. The two, however, have never met in a championship round, where Kobe has been nine times, compared to LeBron’s three appearances.

Judging the way Kobe went at LeBron during this year’s NBA All-Star game, particularly in the fourth quarter, that doesn’t mean squat to No. 24. Last year, Kobe basically called out LeBron for not taking the last shot in the game, which the West won 152-149.

This time around in the West’s 145-138 victory over the East, Kobe swatted a couple of LeBron’s shots, collected a steal near the end of the game to make sure everyone with a television set watching the NBA All-Star game know that he is still the league’s Alpha Dog.


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