The ESPY Awards are the sports world’s Oscars.
Movie stars and athletes get all decked up in floor length frocks and tailored suits to celebrate the best in sports.
The operative word here is best.
During this year’s ceremony, the award for Best NBA Player went to one "King" LeBron James.
Now, this is not a travesty. James does have a lot of talent and there are several awards he deserves without question.
Best Drives To The Basket
Best Shot Blocker (sorry Dwight Howard)
Most Promising Future
Best Pre Game Ritual/Dancer
Best Looking As a Puppet in a Nike Commercial
But as for Best NBA Player, that award has to go to Kobe Bryant.
Bryant led his team to a Championship win this year, the fifteenth for the franchise, and the fourth (and possibly most important) ring for Bryant.
James is a bigger, stronger player so he can muscle his way up for more impressive dunks than Bryant can. On top of that, James’ outside shot has improved. He is, without a doubt, one of the most talented players in the NBA. James is great, and he has the potential to be the best.
But he is not a better ball handler or three-point shooter than Bryant. James is not as good from the free throw line either.
Yet the biggest difference between James and Bryant doesn’t jump off a stat sheet.
The truth is, the players who become the best, who go down in history as the best, have something you cannot really define. Call it the X-Factor, call it the killer instinct, call it whatever you want, Bryant has it, and James does not seem to be there yet.
This year, Bryant proved that he could still rise to the occasion and redeem his team after their loss in last year's Finals to the Celtics.
And while the eyes of the sports world were watching James, Bryant won games. Every game he had to win, Bryant led the Lakers to victory.
Not once during the Playoffs did the Lakers lose back to back games.
In James’ defense, Bryant does have more talent surrounding him in LA. But nobody thought anything of that before the Playoffs when the Cavaliers were heavy favorites to win in the Finals.
As for the argument that during the regular season James outplayed Bryant, there is some truth to that.
However, the Playoffs are when a team needs their star to play at their best, and that is what Bryant was able to do.
Bryant knows how to close out a game better than anyone else in the league, which basically means that he knows how to insure a win better than any other player.
Doesn’t that make him the best?
This past NBA season has been about Bryant vs. James. Everyone was (and still is) asking the question, “Who is better? Who will come out on top?”
James won the regular season MVP, and now he has the ESPY Award for Best NBA Player.
Bryant has his fourth Championship ring and was the Finals MVP.
There is no way to know for certain, but it’s doubtful that Bryant is missing any sleep over losing the ESPY to James.
As for who is the best, James can rack up all the awards and accolades in the world. Until he wins a Championship, Bryant should still be considered the better player.