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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Kobe Bryant Vs. LeBron James

You know it's the dead of summer when there's absolutely no new Laker news. Haha. Anyway, there's a debate on Hoopsworld about who's better between Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, and I'd like to put my input on it out there.

The writer arguing LeBron's side, of course mentions the thing that you always hear when saying he's better: he's stronger and bigger. Oooh wow, size and strength automatically makes you better? If anything, that's another point for Kobe being better since he's working with less size and strength than LeBron.

Another mention is that LeBron has a higher scoring average, and more specifically, more points scored in the beginning of his career than Kobe does. Well, let's see, Kobe had high scoring teammates already like Shaq, Nick Van Exel, and Eddie Jones, so he obviously didn't get the playing time or have as much of a scoring responsibility as LeBron did at the beginning of his career. Let's take the top 4 scorers from each team (other than Kobe or LeBron) from their rookie seasons. For the Lakers in Kobe's rookie season (1996-97), we have Shaq with 26.2 points, Jones with 17.2, Van Exel with 15.3, and Elden Campbell with 14.9 for a total of 73.6 points. For the Cavaliers in LeBron's rookie season (2003-04), we have Carlos Boozer with 15.5 points, Zydrunas Ilgauskas with 15.3, Jeff McInnis with 11.7, and Eric Williams with 9.4 for a total of 51.9 points. Their sophomore seasons tell the same story, with the Lakers' top 4 (other than Kobe) scoring 71, and the Cavs' top 4 (other than LeBron) scoring 50.

Basically, what I'm trying to get across in the above paragraph is that of course LeBron is going to score more in his early seasons, LeBron didn't have as much talent on his team than Kobe did, so he had to score more and got more opportunities to score more than Kobe. Put Kobe on a team with less talent when he was in his early seasons, and he would have done the same. Which brings me to a related point. The LeBron supporters in the debate point to the fact that he started more games early in his career than Kobe did. LeBron started 79 games his rookie season and 80 his sophomore season. Kobe started 6 games his rookie season and 1 his sophomore season. Again, the reason Kobe's numbers are so low is because of all the talent that he had on his team, not the talent of Kobe himself.

There's no doubt in my mind that LeBron is talented (can you believe LeBron is only 23 years old?!), but it seems like the majority of the reasons given why he's better than Kobe have an asterisk by that given reason. LeBron will be better than Kobe someday in the future, but until LeBron wins the NBA Championship, improves his defense, and becomes more of a clutch shooter with a killer instinct, Kobe Bryant is a better player than LeBron James.