In the 1960's you had Russell and Chamberlain, in the '80's it was Magic and Bird, in the new millennium it's all about Kobe and LeBron. There isn't a person around lacking an opinion on this "great debate." Right or wrong, people pick a side, and there's no flip flopping, you're either a Kobe guy or a LeBron guy; you can not be both.
LeBron James has been called the chosen one and an unstoppable force in today's NBA. LeBron James is a monster, a machine, and a titan on the hardwood. LeBron shuns anyone and everyone that comes in his way and embarasses everyone with him on his journey; whether it be a Gold Medal or an MVP, it doesn't matter, LeBron is there to compete.
He is a god amongst mere mortals, sometimes you just have to look at his game and wonder if this guy is real. I have had to pinch myself several times to wonder how? How is he so good? A question that every basketball player wishes they could answer, but for now, the answer is an unknown.
LeBron makes everyone around him better. Unlike Kobe, LeBron has never had the luxury of playing with multiple future Hall of Famers, while Kobe has played with four players that are either in, or will be in the HOF. He's never had the best coach in the history of the game on his sidelines, and LeBron is yet to play with somebody that's been included in an all-star game.
One thing casual fans always seem to say is, "LeBron needs a defensive team around him to win a title." That my friends, is wrong. He could win a title with an offensive minded team, a defensive minded team, whatever team it doesn't matter. If you surround LeBron with a respectable supporting cast, and a coach that won't completely shut down half way through a playoff series, you'll win a title, period.
I'm also sick of hearing that Kobe is light years ahead of LeBron on the defensive side of the floor, because that simply isn't the case anymore. Considering that LeBron defended the other team's best scorer every night, played the free-safety role better than anyone since Scottie Pippen, defended four different positions, allowed his team to play small or big, and always seemed to have one momentum-altering block per game, I don't see how you couldn't give LeBron the nod on the defensive side of the floor.
Some people may say, "Oh, well all of that may be well and true, but LeBron is still a terrible on ball defender," again, that's wrong. Let's take a gander at a few of the players stats that LeBron was defending in the playoffs, shall we?
Tayshaun Prince's first round playoff stats:
PPG: 3.8 APG: 3.3 RPG: 3.5 FG%: .259 OWS(Offensive Win Shares): -0.4 PER: -0.4
Joe Johnson's conference semi-finals stats:
PPG: 15.0 APG: 4.3 REB 4.5 FG%: .419 OWS: -0.3 PER: 12.5
As you can see, Joe Johnson and Tayshaun Prince both exposed LeBron James for what he really is; an average help-side defender, who doesn't have the defensive skills, to hang with the best players of league, on that side of the floor.
I really hope you can sense the sarcasm.
Joe Johnson and Tayshaun Prince weren't the only quality players that had their stats drop significantly when they played the Cavs.Let's take those guys out of the discussion, let's use Kobe as an example, since LeBron is such a horrific defender, I'm sure Kobe took LeBrons lunch. He didn't. Kobe had a significant drop off in points, shooting percentage, and 3PT percentage, while also averaging nearly a turnover more per game against LeBron.
But yeah, LeBron is a bad defender.
The same people that continue to say LeBron is a bad defender, are the same people that are saying LeBron isn't clutch, when in reality, he's the best closer in the game. I truly feel sorry for the people that are failing to realize his greatness, and the people who don't see, what LeBron is doing at his age is simply unheard of. He's so far ahead of Kobe, and he's even ahead of Jordan, when those two players where at LeBron's age. There's a reason so many people (including the NBA logo himself, Jerry West) believe LeBron will retire as the greatest player that has ever lived.
For those of you who say Kobe is better then LeBron because he's won a championship, I want you to think about this. Robert Horry has 7 championship rings, does that make him better then Michael Jordan? Adam Morrison has a championship ring, does that make him better then Karl Malone? Of course not. Nobody wins a championship without help, Kobe's had help, time, and time again in his career, when he hasn't, he's failed.
The same can't be said for James. He's been out of the first round in each of the last four seasons, including one trip to the NBA Finals, and a pair of trips to the conference finals. LeBron has done far "more with less" then Kobe ever has. LeBron can single handily put a team on his back, and carry them deep into the playoffs, that simply isn't the case for Kobe. He's yet to get out of the first round playoffs, without another all-star big man playing along side him.
Kobe and LeBron both faced off against the Orlando Magic in this years NBA playoffs. LeBrons Cavs lost to them in the Conference Finals, Kobes Lakers beat them in the NBA Finals. Let's take a look at each of the players stats, from when they played the Magic.
Kobe's playoff stats vs Magic:
PPG: 32.4 APG: 7.4 REB: 5.6 FG%: .430 WS (Win Shares): 4.8 PER: 26.8
LeBron James playoff stats vs Magic:
PPG: 38.5 REB: 8.3 APG: 8.0 FG%: .487 WS (Win Shares): 4.7 PER: 37.4
The stats above clearly show, LeBron is the superior player between he and Kobe, the only reason this is even still a debate, is because Kobe is playing with one of the best supporting casts in the league, while having the greatest coach in the history of the game on his sidelines. If Kobe and LeBron switched places, the Cavaliers would be nothing more then a middle of the pack team in the Eastern Conference, whereas the Lakers would be the favorites to not only win next years NBA title, but they would be the favorites to win the next 12.