Kobe Bryant Says LeBron James the Player He'd Want to Play with in His Prime

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistDecember 16, 2017

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 10:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers match up during the first half at Staples Center on March 10, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and condition of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant said he'd choose Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James as the one NBA player he'd have loved playing with during his prime. 

On Friday, Matthew Moreno of Lakers Nation relayed comments Bryant made about the topic on the Holding Court with Geno Auriemma podcast.

"I think the player that would fit with me the most, I actually think would be LeBron," he told UConn's famed women's basketball coach. "He's a passer first, I'm a scorer, I'm a finisher. 'Bron is a facilitator by nature and I'm a finisher by nature. Those two styles, I think complement each other extremely well."

Most fans might have expected Kobe to choose Michael Jordan. He's spoken extensively in the past about the influence of the Basketball Hall of Famer, who led the Chicago Bulls to six championships en route to placing himself at the front of the GOAT conversation.

Last year, Bryant talked about trying to learn everything he could from MJ and then going up against him in the NBA with Baxter Holmes of ESPN.com:

"Because as a kid growing up in Italy, all I had was video, so I studied everything. I studied every player. Then once I came back to the States [and] I realized I wasn't going to be 6'9", I started studying Michael exclusively.

"And then when I came to the league and [was] matching up against him, what I found is that he was extremely open to having a mentor relationship and giving me a great amount of advice and an amazing amount of detail, strategies, workout regimen and things like that.

"Seriously, I don't think people really understand the amount of impact that he's had on me as a player and as a leader."

Bryant and Jordan were both aggressive, competitive alpha dogs on the floor, though. It sounds like the longtime Lakers stalwart thinks James would be a more natural fit as a teammate due to his willingness to distribute the ball.

The numbers back up that assessment. Jordan averaged 5.3 assists across his 15-year NBA career. James, who's playing his 15th season, has put up 7.1 assists per game, including a career-best 9.1 dimes per contest so far during the 2017-18 campaign.

As for whether Kobe or LeBron owns the better case against Jordan in the GOAT debate, MJ threw his support behind the former Lakers sensation back in August, pointing to his 5-3 NBA title edge over the Cavs small forward.

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