Everybody’s talking about it. Slam Magazine just devoted a cover and a feature article to it. Jerry “The Logo” West gave his two cents on it. Nike and Vitamin Water have pumped a ton of advertising dollars into it. But is there really a debate on who’s better between Kobe and LeBron? I don’t think so, at least not yet. I’m of the opinion that for as good as LeBron James is, until he wins at least one NBA Championship the issue isn’t even up for discussion and he’d have to beat Kobe for the trophy at least once to even make the argument a legitimate one.
What are we comparing anyway? Kobe Bryant is 30 years old and has been in the league for 13 years. He’s already been where LeBron is trying to go. LeBron is 24 and has been in league 6 years. He has many, many more years ahead of him and his future is very bright. Physically, LeBron is unlike any athlete we’ve ever seen on the basketball court. A very unique combination of size, speed and quickness with a skillset that can cover all five positions on the floor. A virtual walking triple double on any given night. So does that make him better than the most dangerous scorer we’ve seen since Michael Jordan and a guy who is one of the most complete basketball players of all time in terms of offensive and defensive ability and overall basketball IQ? Absolutely not. Not to mention the fact that Kobe already has three NBA championships under his belt. That accomplishment alone speaks for itself.
LeBron James is probably the most dominant player in the league right now. Dominant on the same scale as Shaquille O’Neal during his heyday, but in no way is he better than Kobe. Especially not after watching the playoffs this year where Cleveland is down 3-1 and would’ve — and probably should’ve — been swept out of the playoffs by Orlando had it not been for his miraculous shot to win Game 2. So while this argument is good water cooler talk and as Kobe said in a recent post game interview “good banter”, I think the body of work of the two players so far speaks for itself. It seems as if people are trying to move Kobe out of the way and force him to pass the torch and make way for LeBron, but KB24 still has a lot of gas left in the tank and a few more years to play in the league so I know he’ll have none of that. He’ll pass the torch to LeBron when he’s ready and not a second before. Besides you can’t have a debate on who’s better when one party doesn’t even have a ring yet!
In the 80’s, the debate on who was better between Magic Johnson and Larry Bird was a lot more legit because both had championships and they actually had to play and beat one another for the trophy. So maybe Nike and Vitamin Water should’ve waited until the Lakers and Cavaliers were actually in the NBA Finals to start this discussion because the way it looks now, even though the ads are entertaining, it seems like a colossal waste of money at this point. King James is good and he’s going to dominate in the league for a long time to come there’s no doubt about that, but he has a long way to go and a lot more to do before he can be considered better than the Black Mamba.