Per Chris Palmer of ESPN.com, there is "no question" as to who would win in a one-on-one battle:
Could Kobe beat LeBron 1-on-1? Kobe: "No question. As far as one-on-one, I’m the best to ever do it."— chris palmer (@ESPNChrisPalmer) January 17, 2013
Admittedly, Kobe was just verbalizing what we all know he probably thinks every second of every day of every year. But that doesn't make it any less awesome.
Some would look at this and call Bryant arrogant, ignorant and overly audacious—and to an extent, they could be right. I, however, see it as something much different; this is just another one of Kobe's mind games, laced with personal beliefs.
This is the same Bryant who put Carmelo Anthony on a seemingly infallible pedestal prior to their meeting. Are we supposed to believe it is a mere coincidence that he offers such sentiments on the verge of a Los Angeles Lakers and Heat showdown?
Only if we're the ones being ignorant.
Is Bryant really beyond implementing such a ploy, a tactic aimed at rattling James' ego heading into battle?
This is not to say Bryant doesn't believe the words, the intricately crafted—and slightly sadistic—taunts that are coming out of his mouth, because he does. He believes he's the best—the absolute best. Just ask Alex Rodriguez.
But this is something more, as it always is with Kobe.
In a now rare fit of self-righteousness, James attempted to downplay the trials and tribulations Bryant's Lakers are facing. The Mamba is merely retaliating.
Aside from debating (to no end) who we believe would actually win in a one-on-one duel, there's only one thing left to really say at this point: Your move, LeBron.