Chris Paul vs. Kobe Bryant: Who Is Los Angeles' Biggest NBA Star?

Wesley HodgesContributor IIIDecember 14, 2011

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 20:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers stands next to Chris Paul #3 of the New Orleans Hornets in Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 20, 2011 at Staples Center 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 conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Just days after nearly being traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, Chris Paul is finally heading to LA. In a somewhat surprising twist of events, the down-on-their-luck Los Angeles Clippers have finally landed a big name free agent in Paul.

Now that he finally has a destination, it creates an interesting dynamic that will be one of the biggest storylines of the following season. Kobe Bryant, undeniably upset after his Lakers lost out on the Paul sweepstakes in the first place, is still regarded as one of the premier players in the league.

But is he even the best player in his own city anymore?

Many media members, when asked about him, are quick to jump on the Kobe bandwagon. They say that he is still the best player in the game, the most clutch, or the one whom you would prefer to have on your team over anyone else.

But with the burgeoning support for Blake Griffin as an up-and-coming superstar, and now the arrival of Paul, Kobe will soon be recognized as the third- or fourth-best player in Los Angeles.

I admire Kobe. He is one of the top 10 players ever to play the game, and has had an incredible amount of playoff success over the course of his career. But, he is not immortal. He has played a tremendous number of games, his body is starting to betray him, and he is no longer capable of controlling games on a consistent basis.

Paul is in the prime of his career. He, too, has his injury struggles, and he missed nearly half of the season two years ago because of them. Last season he was good, but not great; his averages were down, and he looked as though he hadn't quite recovered from what ailed him.

Despite all that, he is younger than Kobe, and, barring another injury, should still have five or six superstar-level seasons in him at least.  

The Lakers were famous in the 80s for Showtime, and now it is showtime for the other Los Angeles team. Paul to Griffin will be one of the most exciting plays of the 2011-12 NBA season. Despite giving up a large chunk of their roster, the Clippers will be a playoff team this year, while the Lakers are on the decline with key players getting older or leaving the team.

Kobe Bryant is the bigger name, the more recognizable star, and has by far the better legacy. There is no question that he is the better player and bigger winner when comparing careers. But, possibly for the first time in NBA history, the Clippers will have the biggest current star in town.

That star is Chris Paul.