Because there's another Lebron vs. Kobe/Kobe vs. Lebron disagreement at every turn these days, we thought we'd cut with all the time-wasting nonsense and ad nauseum debate, and just go 'head on and settle it for you. So, compliments of the Take 2 Crew, hear us out... Then give us YOUR take by clicking on "Comments" below!
First off, all other debate need immediately cease. You can argue who's better 1-on-1, who's more likely to hit a buzzer-beating game winner, hell-- you can argue who's going to rack up more points for you in your nerdy computer fantasy league. And yes, Scott LaPeer is a fantasy hoops dork (PointGods = league champs!). However, none of those even approach the only question worth considering, and that is....
If you're putting together a team to win a championship this year, who's more likely to deliver that trophy... Kobe or Lebron?
Scott LaPeer & Sebastian Salazar hash it out here, and here's your answer.....
Honestly, I respect the hell out of his talent and his drive. He's cornier than a bag of Pop Secret, but that's for another day.
That being said, the following is why Lebron James is the best player breathing:
There is no other player out there built like Lebron who can do what he can. He is the total athlete. Guard him to drive, and you give up the J. Play him to shoot, and his first step is as quick as it is long. He can post you. He can out-run you on the break. He can rise higher than you for the oop, and he can out muscle you inside for a bucket or free throws. "The King" is more physically gifted than Bryant.
When Kobe broke into the league, nobody ever wondered if he'd become the only other player to average a triple-double for a season. Not only is he a physical force, Lebron understands the game and, therefore, he maximizes his special gifts. And by "maximize", I mean this... 37 pts, 14 rebs, 12 assts. The King's healthy line from a "must-win" performance in Game 5 last night. A typical night from Kobe might involve 37 points, but he's not impacting the game in as many areas as James.
This is probably the single most vital aspect to this debate. Clearly, Lebron shares the ball. Clearly, he hustles and digs in defensively for the other 4 guys on the floor. But the biggest reason I take James in this case-- his teammates LOVE him! You can tell by the way they respond to him, the rest of the Cavs genuinely admire and respect their leader. He selflessly goes to battle for them, and they, in turn, do the same for him. He's an exceptional player. He knows it. They know it. But James has the moxie, the savvy - whatever you want to call it - to create real camaraderie, and that goes a long way. Of course, I'd be totally remiss not to contrast this with Kobe who, since Shaq left and the Lakers officially became "his" team, has NEVER had a team with the chemistry and unity of Cleveland. Disagree? Give me one genuine example of an L.A. teammate doing anything other than looking at Bryant with a "You're such an arrogant prick" blank expression on his face, or a momentary "Oh, wow... Did Kobe actually just give me a high-five?" look of surprise. Just one! And if you point to the Spike Lee "Kobe Doin' Work" documentary, I will punch you straight in the baby-maker.
THE LATE-GAME ASSASSIN
People may argue that Kobe's better here, and they could be right. But not by much. Bryant's body of work may be more extensive, but he does have 7 years on The King. All I know is this: I've seen enough to know James has that rare blend of abilities only the best possess-- the heart, confidence, stubborn determination, and hate-to-lose attitude that brings out the ultimate. We saw it 2 years ago when he scored 25 straight points (and 29 of the Cavs last 30) to beat Detroit in the playoffs. There hasn't been a better of example of "Lebron the Closer" than his Game 2 buzzer-beating 3 to steal a win from the Magic. And again, just last night, James closed out a win-or-go-home-game with 17 points in the 4th quarter. So yeah, I'm confident with the ball in his hands in Game 7 of the finals.
KOBE BRYANT (by: Sebastian Salazar)
In every great story there's a good guy and a bad guy. In the Kobe vs Lebron debate, Bryant's role is clearly that of the villain. Whether it's his off-court issues in Colorado hotel rooms, ushering Shaq out the door after three titles together, or his perceived self-absorption... Number 24 has provided at least that many reasons for people to hate him.
But when it comes down to what happens between the lines and we talk only about the present and not the future, the math is simple... 24 is greater than 23. Here's why:
Watch any regular season NBA game and you know that nothing really happens until the 4th quarter, and the final stanza belongs to Kobe Bryant. A better closer than Lebron, he can penetrate in the clutch, but can also rely on a jump-shot that's more consistent than Rex Chapman's in NBA Jam. Watching these playoffs, you've probably noticed that Kobe is adding a little something new to his repertoire. It may not be original, but that baseline fade-away he's been hitting the last month is straight out of MJ's book, and it's equally effective. Lebron's only signature move is the travel.
IMPACT ON TEAMMATES
In our hypothetical scenario, the two would have roughly equal supporting casts. While many argue that Lebron's highlight reel passes "make his teammates better", they don't always make the TEAM better. What you don't see on SportsCenter are the passes that end up as turnovers, but trust me they exist. In Game 4 against the Magic there were 8 such turnovers, 4 of them coming in the final minutes of regulation. That doesn't make anyone around you better. What DOES help your teammates is when a defense has to key on you so much that every single pass you make (whether flashy or fundamental) finds somebody WIDE open. Kobe has that impact, without the turnovers down the stretch.
EASIER TO BUILD AROUND
Whether you classify Lebron as a 2 or a 3, selecting James creates more difficulty in building this imaginary championship contender. With Kobe, you go straight after a post player for Bryant to basically play catch with. Remember Shaq and Kobe? That worked out pretty well. Do you get a true point guard to play with Lebron or do you get a center? James is clearly not the ball handler Kobe is, so maybe you go with a point guard. But not bringing the ball up-court would certainly limit Lebron's ability to create space and separation in the front court. On the other hand, pairing James with a dominant post player could clog up the lane and slow Lebron's penetrating ability. We know what works with Kobe, and the truth is we don't know what works with Lebron. If you are trying to win THIS year, you gotta go with what you know.
No doubt, taking Kobe over Lebron is not a popular position to defend. But remember, if the referees in the NBA ever decided to start calling the game by the letter of the law, Lebron's game would suffer way more than Kobe's. At least a half dozen times per contest, LBJ gets away with a clear traveling violation (don't even get me started on the charging calls he avoids). Kobe may not be as likable or marketable, but if I need to win a game and I need to win it now... I'm taking Kobe.