Ever since Michael Jordan retired, there’s been a never-ending debate on who’s the greatest player in the world. All sides have their valid points, and truth to be told, we feel like this is more of a matter of opinions instead of facts.
A couple of players that have constantly been featured in this debate are obviously Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, the first being the closest thing we’ve seen to His Royal Airness, and the latter being the most dominant player of the decade.
And now that LeBron has decided to carry Kobe’s torch and join the Los Angeles Lakers to lead them back to Championship contention, the debate has been at it’s best over the last month and a half or so.
Inside Scoring – LeBron James
Well, LeBron has always thrived off his strength and is the most dominant driver I’ve seen in years. Yes, the league is way softer and defenders aren’t allowed to check players down low as they used to do it anymore, but even so, there’s no guy in the world that can stop this bulldozer at full speed. He’s great at finishing with both hands and is one of the most explosive dunkers ever, and a master in the post.
Outside Scoring – Kobe Bryant
Even though neither of them is an elite three-point shooter, we have to slightly go with Kobe here, mostly because he’s a way better jump shooter than LeBron, and way more effective in catch and shoot situations. LeBron has improved as a pull-up three point shooter, but when locked in, nobody could ever beat the Mamba.
Playmaking – LeBron James
This one’s not even close. As a matter of fact, if you compare LeBron’s playmaking to pretty much every single other player in the world, LeBron is likely to win by a long shot. James is one of the best playmakers in the world, as it looks like he has eyes in the back of his head and always seem to know where his teammates are supposed to be. Standing at 6’8’’, LeBron is a forward that has Magic Johnson’s vision.
Defense – Kobe Bryant
Kobe’s haters may argue he wasn’t much of a defender, but that’s flat out lies. When locked in, Kobe was never going to allow a star to score over himself, especially come playoff time. Yes, LeBron is a much more complete defender, but he only kicks it up in the playoffs, while Bryant did it on a nightly basis. If you disagree, take a look at Kobe’s 12 All-Defensive teams compared to LeBron’s 6.
Rebounding – LeBron James
Besides being bigger and stronger and spending a lot of time playing the four, LeBron has always been a way more committed rebounder than Kobe, constantly boxing out bigger guys in order to get his hands on a board. Also, he’s a slightly better offensive rebounder than Kobe. Over the course of his career, James has averaged 7.4 boards a game and never averaged under 5.5 rebounds (rookie season), which is better than Kobe’s 5.2 (career).
Ball Handling – LeBron James
When it comes to handles, both are pretty close, to be honest. Kobe was a crafty dribbler that could break dribbles in the blink of an eye, going over the back, between the legs and then turning around to hit a fadeaway. Even so, and once again, we have to give this one to LeBron because of the fact that him being a forward, it makes it way more impressive. James can and has run the point with ease, and has guard-like handles, so he wins.
Leadership – LeBron James
Even though Kobe Bryant led his team to 5 Championships, LeBron has always managed to find a way to take his teams to the Finals. Yes, it doesn’t mean he will win, but, for most of his career, he’s made it to the Finals with a weaker team. Kobe never got along with his teammates, and couldn’t lead the post-Shaq to success Lakers until Pau Gasol arrived.
LeBron James has played in 8 consecutive NBA Finals and counting.
Basketball IQ – Kobe Bryant
LeBron James is one of the smartest players in the world, he rarely makes mistakes, he knows where his teammates are supposed to be, and he doesn’t force many things. On the other hand, Kobe was a basketball mastermind. He could break down an entire defense before the ball was inbounded, and was a better off-ball player than LeBron, so there’s that. (Still pretty close, tough).
Better Career – Kobe Bryant
Obviously, Kobe has had a better career overall, even despite the fact that LeBron has won 4 MVPs and 3 Finals MVPs compared to Kobe’s 1 and 2. The fact that Bryant won 5 Championships in 7 trips to the Finals will always give him an upper hand over LeBron. Also, he made it to 18 All-Star games, 4 All-Star MVPs, 12 All-Defensive teams and 15 All-NBA teams.
Team Player – LeBron James
This one goes to LeBron without any kind of doubt. LeBron has been known for being kind of passive aggressive at times and forcing the team’s management to trade some players or make some moves, but even so, he’s also been known for being quite a supportive, easy-going teammate that would do everything in his hands to make everybody feel welcome.
Kobe, on the other hand, publicly bashed teammates, didn’t allow rookies to talk to him and had a strong beef with Shaq, Malone, and D12.
1-on-1 Game – Kobe
When it came to 1-on-1 scoring, there was no stopping Kobe. If you scored over him, you know you were going to pay the price and get torched at the other end. Kobe is a more versatile scorer and had an incredibly accurate shot and ankle-breaking change of pace and dribbling skills, although LeBron is also great himself in this regard.
Kobe had a greater career, almost perfect score in the Finals (5/7), he will be remembered as one of the biggest clutch players in NBA History and probably the best player who played like MJ.
He gave us a great passion to the game, and even though stats are not in favor of Kobe Bryant, he didn’t care too much about stats, but about winning and championships.
LeBron is an all-around player, he led teams to 9 NBA Finals, he is a great leader and lockdown top 5 player in NBA History. His biggest minus is his NBA Finals record and that he left the Cavs to create the Big 3 because of championships. But, he did come back to Cleveland and beat the Warriors after being down 3-1 in one of the most legendary NBA Finals of all-time.
They are very close to each other, and it will always be a debate who is better: Kobe Bryant or LeBron James.