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Playoffs Prove That LeBron James Is Not On Kobe Bryant's Level

Brandon Ribak@reebokforthreeSenior Writer IJune 1, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 19:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots a jumper against LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers during the game at Staples Center on January 19, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.  The Lakers defeated the Cavaliers 105-88.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

All season long, discussions have been brought up about whether Lebron James or Kobe Bryant is the better player.

To know the true answer, you have to dig deep into the actual question.

So who do you choose?

LeBron James, the most dominate player in the NBA, or Kobe Bryant, the most clutch player in the NBA?

The answer for me is real simple.

To be the best, you have to beat the best.

Since LJ was not able to even advance to the NBA Finals to actually play the best, well, that just lessens his overall value.

Since Bryant has now made appearances in the NBA Finals for the last two seasons in a row, well, that just gives him a few bonus points.

One's true potential is shown during the playoffs, so let's take a look at both players overall postseason averages.

LeBron James: 41.4 MPG, 35.3 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 7.3 APG, 1.6 SPG, 0.9 BPG, 51.0 percent FG, 33.3 percent 3P, and 74.9 percent FT.

Kobe Bryant: 40.1 MPG, 29.6 PPG, 5.3 RGP, 4.9 APG, 1.7 SPG, 0.8 BPG, 46.6 percent FG, 34.6 percent 3P, and 89.5 percent FT.

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Free Throws

Both superstars obviously posted serious averages throughout the playoffs, but one thing that most people do not take a look at is free-throw percentage.

If you want to be the best player in the NBA, you have to shoot a great free-throw percentage, end of story.

During the Magic-Cavaliers series, James was virtually unstoppable. He excelled in every category, except in nailing his free throws. James proved that he was nothing more than a mediocre free-throw shooter from the charity stripe, shooting just 77.7 percent from the line (missing up to six free throws during one game).

Meanwhile, Kobe Bryant shot an incredible 93.1 percent from the free-throw line during the Nugget-Lakers series (missing a total of five free throws).

Producing in the big game

Game Six of the Cavaliers-Magic series was a do-or-die situation for LeBron James and the Cavs. After averaging over 40 points per game in the series, James was relied heavily upon to produce at a high level.

To be the best, you have to come up huge during the big games that really count. In this situation, James ended the game with the least amount of points that he has dropped all series long, just 25 points on 8-of-20 shooting from the field and 7-of-11 from the charity stripe.

In Game Six for the Nuggets-Lakers series, Kobe Bryant was relied upon to produce and ultimately end the series once and for all.

Since Bryant is obviously on a higher level than James, he did what he was expected to do, dropping 35 points on one of his best shooting nights in the series (12-of-20), with 10 assists, six rebounds, two three-pointers, and going a perfect 9-of-9 from the line.

Superstar condition

Now this last reason might be a bit controversial, but I am going to go ahead and plead my case anyway.

LJ and KB are clearly in phenomenal basketball condition. But if you want to win an NBA Finals and be the best, you have to be in immortal basketball condition.

What I mean by that is you have to be in such a ridiculous state of fitness, that even if you played every minute of every game throughout the postseason, you could still produce effectively.

Taking a look at games played in the playoffs, James managed to sweep the first two rounds, playing in a total of 14 games in the postseason, while Bryant has played in a total of 18 games thus far.

When watching James during Game Six, you could tell the man was fatigued. Even the commentators began pulling out excuses from their pockets stating that LJ had just played too many minutes to continue producing at such a supreme level.

At the time, Bryant had already played in more games than LJ had and still produced at a super stardom level.

Now I know most of you James fans must be saying, well LeBron has to do more work for his team, while Bryant has other players he can rely on.

I have to admit, that statement is 100 percent true.

But guess what? Even if Bryant was relied on just as much as LJ to produce for his team, Bryant would still be able to do it at the age of 30.

Why?

During the offseason, Bryant begins his conditioning (running, lifting, shooting) weeks before every other NBA player. He prepares himself physically and mentally for what is to come and knows how to pace himself throughout all 82 games of the year and as many games as it takes to reach the NBA Finals.

I hate to say it, but Kobe Bryant is on a totally different level than LeBron James. The proof has been shown in the playoffs; while James is sitting at home, Bryant is competing for the title.

No. 23? No, No. 24!

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