The Kobe and LeBron debate started during James' second year in the league. There are many people who have already dubbed him the "next Jordan."
There are others who say Kobe is a better comparison to Jordan. Those people would be correct.
Kobe grew up idolizing Jordan, and patterned his game after MJ's. Kobe has even gone as far as making himself as the next MJ off the court as well.
From the fist pump, to the locker room celebrations after winning another title, there is a little bit of Jordan in every Kobe moment.
I caught myself listening to ESPN radio last week, and I thought it was Kobe talking...but it was MJ himself. I wouldn't have known it if they never told me.
As far as playing style and competitiveness goes, I will always place Kobe right next to Jordan. Who does LeBron most remind me of? The other MJ.
Magic Johnson, like James, was drafted with the first overall pick in the NBA draft. During Magic's rookie season, he averaged 18 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists. In LeBron's rookie season, he averaged 21 points, 6 assists, and 6 rebounds per game.
Magic was a 6'9", 255 pound player for most of his career, while LeBron is listed at 6'8" 250 pounds. Both were considered amazing athletes during their time.
There are some significant differences between the two. LeBron and the Cavs failed to make the playoffs his rookie year, but it was one of the worst franchises in the league.
Magic led the Lakers to an NBA Title his rookie season, while playing all five positions during The Finals.
LeBron obviously came straight out of high school, while Magic made a name for himself during his days at Michigan State, where he won a National Championship.
One of the things that makes both of these guys so great, is their court vision, and their ability to change a game.
LeBron is one of the best shot blockers in the league, and has the ability to make a block on one end, and finish on the other end with an alley-oop. Magic could steal the ball on a fast break, and turn it into quick points on the other end.
Both of these guys are floor generals that can run the offense from the point. While LeBron hasn't (yet) played at the center position, everyone knows he is capable of playing all five positions, much like Magic did.
With their size and athleticism, they can play inside the paint, and out on the perimeter.
The best attribute that these two guys have is their precise passing ability. Whether it comes in transition, or from a double team, they are always able to find the open man for an easy shot. LeBron has made some incredible passes all throughout his career, and Magic, the same.
Early in his career, LeBron was asked to handle the scoring load, much like Jordan did, but after the Cavs were able to give him a little help, he relied more on his passing and defense.
LeBron can get to the basket any time he wants, and is one of the best finishers in the game today.
Magic Johnson averaged over 11 assists per game over his entire career, and now that LeBron has some legitimate help, he is averaging almost nine assists per contest this year.
The absence of Mo Williams and other injuries to Delonte West have forced LeBron to take over the point over the last month or so.
This year, LeBron is ranked No. 6 overall in the NBA assists per game category, behind the five best point guards in the league; Paul, Nash, Williams, Rondo, and Kidd.
Many people think of it as some sort of disrespect to compare Kobe to Jordan instead of LeBron to Jordan. This isn't to say that Kobe is better than LeBron, or that LeBron is better than Kobe.
They are not the same type of player, but people don't seem to understand that. Kobe and Jordan are deadly shooting guards, but can't play every position like Magic and LeBron can.
To so that Kobe is the greatest ever, or LeBron is, would be like saying Joe Montana was better than Walter Payton. The two aren't the same type of player, but one thing is certain; they are the greatest players in the game today.
Magic and MJ, now LeBron and Kobe. We as basketball fans should appreciate their greatness.