Kobe vs. LeBron: NBA Titles Are Overrated When Talking Indivudal Legacies

Gary PikulaContributor IApril 5, 2011

MIAMI, FL - MARCH 10:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat posts up Kobe Bryant #24 of  the Los Angeles Lakers  during a game at American Airlines Arena on March 10, 2011 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

It's the endless debate in the NBA. Who's better? Is it Kobe Bryant and his five championships, or is it LeBron James and his zero championships?

Often, the tiebreaker comes down to who has more rings, which doesn't make any sense when talking about individual legacies. Championships are actually overrated in this discussion.

Basketball is a team sport. No NBA superstar has won a championship alone. Everyone needs a supporting cast. Jordan didn't win a championship without Pippen, and in the case of Jordan and Kobe, both had Phil Jackson on the bench. 

LeBron James had a terrible supporting cast in Cleveland. In his last three seasons there, they went 0-11 without him, and look at them now without him. LeBron is a great player, but like every other superstar player in the NBA couldn't win it alone.

That's why he took his talents to South Beach last summer. 

Kobe has five titles, but are we forgetting that he wasn't even the best player on the first three of them? Shaq was clearly the best player on that team and in the league during the three-peat in the early 2000s. While Jordan needed help to win titles, he was still always the best player on each of those championship teams. 

Here's another example showing that championships are overrated: Would you rather have Derek Fisher or Steve Nash running the point for your team? How about Charles Barkley or Jim Loscutoff? How about Paul Piece or LeBron. Do you really think Paul Pierce is a better basketball player than LeBron?

Titles are certainly important when talking about who the better player was, but there are too many variables involved for it to be the most important criteria.

Next time you're debating with your friends on who's better between LeBron and Kobe, remember that championships are overrated. Not only did Kobe have the best player as a teammate for the first three titles, he was bailed out in Game 7 last season by Pau Gasol.