You got me, because they're nearly one in the same. Especially this season.
Sure, Kobe has everything that 'Melo doesn't. Championship rings litter his fingers, MVP awards line his living room and he's made it past the first round of the playoffs more times than Anthony has spent years in the NBA.
But when you really look at the two, you come to find how similar to they are to one another.
From their scoring preferences, to their roles, to what they have meant and continue to mean to their respective teams, Bryant and Anthony are of the same make and model.
Both athletes are two of the most formidable and versatile scorers in the game. Like Kevin Durant, they are able to score at will and from anywhere. Each has also spent the last decade averaging more than 20 points per game as their team's offensive end-all.
Where would the Los Angeles Lakers be, or have ever been, without Bryant?
Kobe currently leads the Lakers in points, assists and steals per game, and is the league's leading scorer to boot. He's also managed to squeeze his way into the MVP conversation on a team that was supposed to be too talented to have one.
Right now, his demonstrative offensive efforts are all Los Angeles has to lean on in Steve Nash's absence; he's all that provides his team with any kind of hope.
And the same holds true for Anthony.
Where would the New York Knicks be sitting without the man they paid an arm, a leg and a large portion of their future to get?
Anthony is third in the Association in scoring behind Bryant and Durant, posting the league's seventh-highest PER and generating serious MVP consideration for the first time in his career.
What's more is 'Melo has had such an impact as "The Man," a role that he was deemed unsuited to assume. Both the Knicks and Denver Nuggets stood to be more successful without his cancerous, me-first attitude.
No, Bryant has never been deemed malignant to his team's ultimate cause. His five championship rings state just the opposite, actually. However, his seemingly selfish disposition has been debated to no end.
While the Black Mamba has averaged four or more assists in 14 straight seasons (including this one), he was primarily considered an isolation scorer—someone who operated outside of a team-first concept.
The same can be said of Anthony, who was anything but able to constructively function within Mike D'Antoni's ball-movement promoting offense.
Many tend to overlook Bryant's tactical narcissism because it has culminated in five rings. What some would call selfish or antagonistic is construed as misperceived leadership. Because, after all, Bryant has those rings. He must be doing something right.
And he has. Bryant has done plenty right. But, bear in mind, he has never won a title without the luxury of a towering-yet-dominant seven-footer by his side. Just ask Shaquille O'Neal. Or even Pau Gasol (as long as he's wearing his big boy pants).
Again, none of this is said to spite Kobe, but Anthony and he are so seldom mentioned in the same breath because he has hardware and 'Melo doesn't.
Heck, Anthony was incessantly compared to LeBron James before he won his first ring. But then the championship came, a brief mention of it being 'Melo's time to step up was uttered but rarely discussed thereafter.
Is that fair?
Debating whether Anthony is in the same league as Bryant is futile. For nearly two decades, Kobe has exuded the type of two-way prowess Anthony is only beginning to discover. Defensively, there really is nothing to compare.
However, allowing Bryant's rings to cloud the correlation between this two is shortsighted. Sure, Kobe has distinguishable furnishings that 'Melo doesn't, but he's also had help Anthony never has.
If New York's star forward had the opportunity to play alongside a Dwight Howard or Shaq, wouldn't his career have gone differently?
Of course it would have. Anthony has never had the luxury of playing alongside an athlete who can spread the floor like a Dwight or Shaq, or even a Pau, consistently. If he did, perhaps he would have some of the hardware Bryant does now. Or maybe not.
But that's the point, we don't know. Both Bryant and Anthony have played for different caliber teams under very different dynamics. And subsequently, the results have differed as well.
Yet despite the differences, Bryant and Anthony have been fighting the same battle their entire career, the one that constantly puts their backs up against the wall.
If the Lakers don't win and Kobe dropped 30 points, he shot too much. Should the Knicks suffer a mid-game collapse or fail to advance in the playoffs, 'Melo is cancer.
Never before have two players meant so much to their teams, yet been chastised for the way they play to no end. Even without a title, James was never considered the sole reason why his team couldn't win or believed to be the driving force behind their seasonal failure.
Anthony and Bryant, however, have. And they continue to be.
Los Angeles is both enthralled and worried about Steve Nash's return. How will Bryant function alongside a ball-dominating point guard?
The Knicks are experiencing an equally elevated level of worry with regards to Amar'e Stoudemire. How is Anthony going to thrive next to someone who occupies the same space as him?
Fittingly enough, these two are, once again, neck and neck in the scoring department while being tasked with carrying their team. The difference is that the ringless 'Melo is propelling his Knicks team to new heights, while Bryant struggles to keep the Lakers afloat.
The results have been reversed, but the battle remains the same.
Each player is attempting to re-invent himself within a new system.
Anthony is being asked to defend by Mike Woodson, while Bryant will inevitably be tasked with playing off the ball at Mike D'Antoni's behest.
Yes, these are two players who have experienced varied levels of success. But the difference in success is all that separates them.
Achievements aside, Kobe and 'Melo are still movement-killing ball-dominators who have no shot filter. They're still two athletes whose devotion to a team-first concept will continue to be questioned—no matter the results—for the duration of their careers.
But Kobe has championships and Anthony doesn't.
As such, they've effectively become two sides of the same coin—operating under the same principles, but with two very different perspectives as to what genre of results their self-imposed design ultimately yields.
All stats in this article are accurate as of December 10, 2012.
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