LeBron Or... Kobe? Why No. 23 is that much better than everyone else

Adam LawrenceContributor IMay 12, 2009

ATLANTA - MAY 11:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers walks off the court after a win over the Atlanta Hawks 84-74 in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena on May 11, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  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 Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Recently, the NBA voted LeBron James its Most Valuable Player Award, and while this may come to the dismay of Kobe fans, it is one of the few things the voters have finally done right in the last several years.

As a longtime Utah Jazz fan, last season I thought that the MVP award should have been given to Chris Paul, not only because of his ability to penetrate defenses and create endless opportunities for a lacking supporting cast, but also because of his ability to re-energize a team as bad as New Orleans. Many people, especially Jazz fans, have asked me why I always believed that Paul was more valuable than D-Will, and my answer always stayed the same: it all deals with the supporting cast. While I fully believe that Deron Williams is one of the top point guards in the league, and that he is a quintessential element to a Jazz team whose offense is focused on the leadership of its point guard, I felt that between Boozer, Okur, AK-47, Millsap, Brewer, and even Korver, there was too much talent on the Jazz for D-Will to be considered for the award.  Conversely, Paul regenerated the career of the once bleak Tyson Chandler, as well as leading the Hornets to better regular season records than the Jazz in two consecutive seasons.

This is the same case as the LeBron-Kobe (even Dwight and B-Roy) debate. While Chris Paul and D-Will play on a level that does not reach that of LeBron or Kobe, they should have been considered for the award because of their ability to lead their teams (i.e. MOST VALUABLE PLAYER).


LeBron shouldn't have just won the award, but Kobe should have handed it to him. Gracefully. And with a big fat smile on his face.

While Chris Paul and D-Will struggled for the most part this season, they still carried their respective teams to playoff contention and lead often injured and mediocre supporting casts a long the way. But forget these guys; let's look at LeBron and his supporting cast. Actually, what supporting cast? Delonte West? Mo Williams? Hey, don't forget Big Z down low. Come on guys, this is unreal. I mean Jordan had Pippen, Rodman, and Kerr among others, and that team was known as ALL JORDAN. LeBron is playing with guys who could easily be replaced by anyone on the Lakers roster and that is saying a lot.

Kobe on the other hand? Gasol, Bynum, Odom (the most underrated player in the game), Vujacic, need I name more?  The fact of the matter is that no matter how good Kobe is, and while his game may be on the same level as LeBron, he is in no way more valuable than James is to his team. Let's look at Kobe a few years ago on a Lakers team that was almost always considered nonthreatening and lucky to be an eight seed in the playoffs. Who was his supporting cast? No one. And while this does indicate that he needed extra help to go far in the playoffs, it reiterates why LeBron is so much more valuable to his team than Kobe is to the Lakers. Kobe's supporting cast back in those days was arguably just as good if not better than LeBron's currently in Cleveland. And where does James have the Cavs now? Ready to hunt an NBA Title.

Now a lot of people will argue, and rightfully so, that it took LeBron several years to develop with his team, the same as Kobe. The thing is, the Lakers added several key components to their roster, increasing Bryant's chances to win a championship. The Cavs on the other hand, added Mo Williams. While Williams is actually a very productive point guard, he has nowhere near the talent to be the number two guy on any team. LeBron got better by himself, with no real additions to his team, and has turned Cleveland into a championship caliber team through his own play.

Also, the numbers are not even close. While Kobe insists he is a team-first player, I would love to see one game where he has more assists than LeBron. As Most Valuable Player, LeBron has also energized a fan base and team that has never had a shot at a title. In addition, he has a team that trusts him more than any other player in the league.

LeBron is not only on a higher level than anyone else in the NBA, but he is also making his team better in the process of achieving greatness. No one, not even Kobe can refute that. Gasol? Bynum? Odom? All players who did not revamp their careers by joining the Lakers; in fact Gasol's numbers have been down since partnering up with Kobe. LeBron on the other hand? He has taken guys like Mo Williams and Anderson Varejão and turned them into solid players who are helpful to a championship roster. Look at their careers, all of them, they have all improved with the help of James.

This years MVP race should never have been a debate, and while almost every voter agrees with me, it is importatnt to look at how much more valuable LeBron is than any other player in the NBA.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.