"What I'm doing right now, I'm chasing perfection.”- Kobe Bryant.
Perfection: the highest degree of proficiency, skill, or excellence, though known to Kobe Bryant as everyday life.
Since taking the court for the first time, Bryant’s motto is to be the best.
When entering the NBA in 1996 he wasn’t right away known as the best, as that torch was carried by No. 23 from Wilmington, NC, Michael Jordan.
However, this wouldn’t last long as Bryant didn’t like not being the best because he felt not being the best just wasn’t good enough.
Nevertheless, whether he liked it or not Jordan was the best. But not for long.
Bryant would win his first NBA Championship in 2000 at age 22. That following year he would do it again and then again, making it three straight titles and at age 24 and only being in the NBA for six years this dominance that Bryant was showing so soon was just unbelievable.
Unbelievable because this was the first time anyone had ever seen such dominance so fast; fast enough that it was faster than the great Michael Jordan.
It took Jordan eight seasons to get one title, where in that span it took Bryant only six seasons to get three.
However this still wasn’t good enough to prove that Bryant was the best, but it was good enough to put him in the conversation.
As Bryant’s career went on, he would continue to dominate season by season, basket by basket, and record by record.
Then in 2003 a new player would come onto the scene. Lebron James, an 18-year-old kid right out of St. Vincent St. Mary High School was coming in with the same mindset Bryant did; be the best.
So that brings us to the question that has turned into what has seemed to be a lifelong debate.
Who is better: Kobe Bryant or Lebron James?
Well usually when you compare two things or people, etc. you usually compare them head to head, right? Yes, so let’s do it.
James' averages vs. Bryant
Min FG% 3s% FT% Reb Ast St Blk TO Pts
41.6 .426 .289 .673 7.0 6.7 1.7 .50 4.1 27.7
Bryant's averages vs. James
Min FG% 3s% FT% Reb Ast St Blk TO Pts
41.2 .415 .205 .885 6.0 5.7 1.4 .40 3.8 28.9
After the statistics, then comes the most important thing: wins (and by wins I mean NBA Championships).
Let’s be honest. Having great statistics is great, but it only goes so far. Winning a Championship is something that doesn’t come often as it marks true greatness.
Take Elgin Baylor for example, a player that once averaged 38.3, 34.8, and 34.0 points per game. He once scored 71 points in a game—which at the time was a record-breaking performance.
In game five of the 1962 NBA Finals he scored 61 points. Yes, those are great accomplishments, however, do you put him ahead of Kevin McHale, Hakeem Olajuwon, Oscar Robertson or David Robinson?
Well according to the NBA’s Top-50 NBA Players of All Time, no. Why not?
Baylor averaged more points, more rebounds, and more assists (with the exception of Oscar Roberston) than all of them, but yet according to many voters, former players, analysts, etc. he’s not. Baylor never won an NBA Championship, whereas McHale, Olajuwon, Roberston and Robinson, all did.
So when it comes down to it, NBA Championships mean a lot.
Yes, that player may have averaged 35 points 16 rebounds and 8 assists and might have been the best player in that time period stat-wise, but being the best of all time, well that’s decided by the NBA Championships.
So who do you think is better?
Saying that there’s no debate here as Bryant with five championships and James with zero; Bryant wins.
Now you could say well James is still young and that he still has time to pass Bryant, etc. and your right. However, in his eighth year in the NBA still without at least one championship, James at the same point in his career during which Bryant was going for his third championship.
Next up is something that doesn’t really show up on the stats sheet and that’s time spent in the gym. Improving on jump shots, dribbling skills, go-to moves, and more.
As for who wins, it’s Kobe Bryant in a landslide. Remember the loss against the Miami Heat (94-88) on March 10th Bryant was caught by some camera crews as they were packing up shooting around and doing some light drills after the game.
“You’ve got to work at it,” Bryant said. “This is what you’re supposed to do. I mean, if you’re not comfortable with something and you feel like you can tweak some things, you’ve got to work on them. It doesn’t matter when you work on them. You’ve just got to get it done. You’ve got to work it out.”(quote from the associated press)
Those sorts of things usually go unnoticed to the everyday people because practice is usually done behind closed doors and at set times.
However, great players like Bryant and players who love the game play more than just during the scheduled team practices, the scheduled games, etc. and it shows.
Next up it’s a life lesson that your mom once told you; be a leader not a follower.
Both players are clearly leaders, however who’s the bigger leader of the two? For starters Bryant has the age advantage which comes with experience which then comes with knowledge, so it’s 1-0 Bryant.
Another thing is the teammate’s factor; how are they with their teammates on and off the court and during practice. This again goes to Bryant, because if you watch just one Lakers game you’ll see Bryant at least once going over to a teammate pointing somewhere while talking in that players ear after a dead ball or while they’re sitting on the bench or right after a mistake, etc.
Where with James you don’t really see that. Then the most important thing for a leader is to never quit or never give up, and that goes to Bryant without question.
Many questioned this aspect of James when they said that James quit in the playoffs last year against the Celtics.
Where with Bryant you never heard anything like that about Bryant quitting.
I mean, come on, Kobe Bryant quitting?
I think even if Bryant had two 1,000 pound weights tied to both of his legs and with those weights he had to climb the Rocky Mountains, someway somehow he would get to the top.
As for James, he would just go to Miami.
So who are you going to take?
A 32-year-old player with five championship rings, an MVP, a leade, and a dominant scorer; or a 27-year-old with zero championship rings, two MVPs, a dominant scorer as well, but a quitter.
I don’t know about you but I’m taking the 32-year-old in this one because the 27-year-old won’t pick the team up when their down, he’ll just pack up and leave.