Conundrum: You can only choose one.
So, who's it going to be?
This is probably a question you've encountered before, whether in a bar, in your living room, or in the arena watching in awe as both players dominate their opponents.
But is this a tricky question or one that is all too simple?
Some will assume that choosing Lebron over Kobe is a no-brainer because of the age factor: Kobe is 31 and Lebron is 25.
But while Lebron's youth may benefit your team for years to come, couldn't you also argue that Kobe's plethora of experience, five NBA Championships ,among other things, will be just as valuable, if not more?
What about versatility?
Bryant can turn on his fade-away jumper just as easily as he can become a small-forward and demoralize anyone willing to defend him in the post.
Similarly, since Lebron has improved his outside shooting game over the last couple seasons, his pull-up jumper from the wing has become almost as threatening as his ability to drive through multiple defenders to the hoop.
Both players' statistics are absolutely off the charts as well.
Through the 2009-2010 regular season, Bryant averaged 25.3 points per game, 5.3 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and 1.5 steals.
But James was no slouch, averaging 27.8 points, 7.0 assists and 7.0 rebounds. Lebron has also recorded 34 triple-doubles in his career thus far, a testament to his unrivaled talent, strength, and consistency.
While each player's offensive capacity ranks among the best, it's the blending of their defensive abilities that distinguishes them from their peers.
Bryant has been chosen eight times for the All-Defensive First Team. He fuses his agility with his unparalleled grasp of basketball strategy to track the movement of the basketball. From picking the ball on a player's cross-over to boxing out, Kobe is as solid as it gets on defense.
But how many times have we seen the ESPN Top Plays highlight of James galloping across the court so swiftly that he robs a player of a fast-break?
At 6'8", 250 lbs., James rarely lets his man get past him to drive to the hole, let alone allows them to get a rebound over his colossal arms.
What both players share is that they have learned how to both improve their individual games while simultaneously making their respective teams better.
Kobe has developed his game to the point that he can recognize when the defense is laying off him, allowing him to pull-up and take his shot. He has also enhanced his court vision to find the player with the open shot, the player who is cutting to the basket, and how to effectively spread the defense.
Bryant has become the blueprint for a player who can identify when to be aggressive and when to share the ball, drawing repeated comparisons to Michael Jordan.
Lebron James has learned that he can drive to the hoop no matter who, or how many, defenders are guarding him. This recognition has led to his understanding that he can just easily drive down the lane and dish the ball out to the open man.
James is steadily progressing into one of the most resourceful players in the game, constantly being compared to Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson.
Time to start making decisions.
Hypothetical: 1.8 seconds left on the clock, down two-points, crowd thunderously roaring, and you decide that you want to go for the 3-pointer and the win.
Who do you give the ball to—Kobe or Lebron?
This answer is undeniably Bryant.
How many times has Kobe hit the clutch shot?
In fact, not only has he hit the needed or game-winning shot countless times, but he's done it with hands in his face, with thousands of fans yelling at the top of their lungs. He's done it both in the regular season and finals games, and most impressively, with all the pressure on him.
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