NBA: Kobe or LeBron? Not a question worthy of debate!

Ryan WelchCorrespondent IApril 24, 2008

The never-ending debate of who is the greatest has been discussed everywhere lately.

I recently wrote an article describing my all-time team, which to me is the best way to debate anything having to do with basketball. It is impossible to say who is the best, simply because it depends on the other players on the team.

Michael Jordan is arguably the greatest player of all time, but if given the chance, I don't think the 1980s Lakers would have traded Magic for MJ. LeBron verses Kobe is not a question we should be asking because it is impossible to answer.

If you break down the matchup into smaller parts—shooting, on the ball defense, ball handling, rebounding, passing—you inevitably find that one is better than the other. But how do you weigh what talent is more valuable? How do you decide whether defense is better than passing, or shooting better than rebounding?

To me the team is the deciding factor. 

Something else to consider: These two guys are not at the same place in their careers. Kobe is a veteran who has probably plateaued when it comes to physical improvement. That is not to say he can't become a more cerebral player, it is just rare for a guy about to turn 30 to get quicker or suddenly jump higher.

Kobe is a bonafide hall-of-famer right now. If he breaks his leg tomorrow he is in without question. If LeBron broke his leg tomorrow and never played again we would all think about how sad it was for him to never get the chance to gain the legacy that he so clearly is on track for.

They also don't play the same position. They have different roles on their respective teams, and they don't really play a similar style at all.

The only people debating this issue are the fans. LeBron defers to Kobe anytime the subject is brought up to him in interviews. He knows he has a long way to go before the discussions can truly begin.

Having said all of that (which makes it look like I am favoring Kobe), LeBron is the guy I would pick if I were starting a team today. He is 23. That's it. He has a good 10 to 15 years left, while Kobe simply doesn't have that much time.

There is no question that Kobe belongs in the conversation for greatest players of all-time, and there is no question in my mind that LeBron will someday very soon deserve of the same accolades.

Today they are the two best players in the league for completely different reasons so my choice is both. They are the co-best player because one is not head and shoulders better than the other, but they are both head and shoulders better than everybody else.