I already wrote a post regarding who was the better overall player between Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers and LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers. The numbers seemed to favor LeBron. But the two are different types of players and have different strengths which makes the debate a fun one.
The responses I received here were overwhelmingly in favor of Kobe. The arguments were legit. Kobe is a better shooter. The numbers bear that out.
But LeBron averages more assists and is able to get more rebounds. Of course, James has an advantage because of his size and position. He is able to rebound better than Bryant as a result.
Also, Kobe has more experience which led to a number of comments (from the experts as well) that Kobe is better now but LeBron will be better when it is all said and done.
Finally, almost everybody who mentioned the player who was more clutch, mentioned Kobe as their preference. I read an article in Sports Illustrated today at the dentist that mentioned some statistics regarding Kobe and LeBron's game winning shots.
They polled a bunch of NBA players asking them who they would want to shoot the ball in a game winning situation and they voted Kobe in a landslide. One would say that poll is as valid as you can get since the sample polled is all people who play the game themselves and would know more than the common fan.
But here are some interesting notes they included at the end. According to 82games.com since the 2003-2004 season, Kobe Bryant has hit 14 game winning shots while LeBron has hit 17. LeBron's 17 leads the pack while Kobe's 14 is fourth. In addition Kobe has missed 42 possible game winners! James has missed 33.
At first that seemed like too many misses by the two of them but numbers are numbers. And the numbers state LeBron has been more clutch over the past 4.5 seasons. Yet, Kobe maintains the overall notoriety for game winners.
Why is that?
Is it a case of L.A. versus Cleveland? More popularity in Hollywood? More exposure?
I, for one, am not questioning Kobe's ability to win games. But I am bothered by the lack of regard James receives for being clutch. In the playoffs several years ago he hit clutch layups to win big games against Washington and New Jersey.
Also, he gets blasted for passing in game winning situations even though his pass to a wide open Damon Jones won a big playoff game as well. Personally, I think he deserves recognition for that as well. In fact, I mentioned that his trust in his teammates is a quality that makes him so special.
Kobe Bryant may have the reputation as a big shot maker and deservedly so, but a look at these numbers demonstrates that James is no slouch himself.