Kobe Bryant or LeBron James? Breaking Down the NBA MVP Race

Divya ParmarSenior Analyst IMarch 21, 2008

I understand there are many candidates for MVP: Chris Paul, Kevin Garnett, and Tracy McGrady.

For the sake for this discussion, I will focus on who I think are the two main contenders: Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. I will compare them in various areas.

I won't pick one in this article (I've been ridiculed and harassed in other articles), but will compare them as I said. Here are the categories:

Leadership: Kobe is the seasoned veteran, and has a lot of experience. He keeps his teammates in line. He also makes his teammates better. His competitive attitude spreads among the rest of the team. LeBron can be a laid-back guy, but he is also very determined, and makes his (crappy) teammates better. Edge: Kobe

Clutch Play: Both LeBron and Kobe have had big moments and won many games for their teams. Both have the skill to take over games, and often do so. I see no clear winner here. Edge: Even

Big games: LeBron has been putting up games, and huge numbers overall. Don't get me wrong, Kobe has been excellent, with multiple games with over 40 points, and scoring 52 points in the win over the Mavs. But LeBron has put up 50 twice, including once at Madison Square Garden while receiving the "MVP" chant. LeBron also gets lots of assists and rebounds for his position, and has put up triple-doubles. Edge: LeBron (barely)

Carrying his team: I think LeBron definitely has the edge here. Kobe has a very good surrounding cast with Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom, and a deep bench. LeBron has Ben Wallace, Wally Szerbieck, and Boobie Gibson, or in other words, nobody. LeBron does it all with no help. Edge: LeBron by a mile

Offense (inside game):  I like LeBron here. He is so big and powerful that when he drives, he cannot be stopped. LeBron can finish in traffic with his strength. Kobe is also very good off the dribble, but LeBron is better here. Edge: LeBron

Offense (outside game): I like Kobe here. Kobe can consistently shoot from anywhere, including three-point range. Kobe is money when he pulls up for the midrange jumper. Kobe also is an excellent free throw shooter. LeBron, on the other hand, isn't as great of a shooter, but is developing his outside game. Edge: Kobe

Defense: Kobe is a great defender, and can lock-down anyone. He has the will and desire to shut-down whoever he is guarding. LeBron, in contrast, doesn't always play defense with intensity. LeBron sometimes takes defensive possessions off. Edge: Kobe

Quality of competition: Kobe wins this category by a mile. Kobe has to deal with the nine-team deep Western Conference, while LeBron gets to play the weak Eastern Conference teams. Edge: Kobe by a 100 miles

There you go, some of my thoughts to start a debate. I am not endorsing anyone in this article, just getting my thoughts out.