Kobe Bryant vs. LeBron James: Is Bryant Better Overall?

Tuviere AkpogheneContributor IJanuary 27, 2010

Before I start with this topic, I want to make it clear that I do not support any comparison between these two very talented athletes. I believe comparing athletes as finished products.

A good example of finished product comparison would be Jordan vs. Magic, Hakeem vs. David Robinson, or even Wilt Chamberlain vs. Kareem Abdul Jabbar.

These guys played in the same era and against each other for years with memorable battles in the playoffs and the NBA finals.

Kobe and LeBron’s careers are far from over, and they are yet to play in any games that really matter—playoffs or NBA Finals.

Though I do not support the comparison, there is certainly a rivalry between those two.

Both guys continue to deny any kind of rivalry exists, especially Kobe.  Even if Kobe is not interested in there being any rivalry between he and the young man who would be King, the rest of us are. And that's why there's more info floating around the Web today than any of us have time to go through.

This rivalry has led to all this talk about who’s better.

I’ve been in Chicago since the beginning of the year and didn’t have any free time to get a haircut; needless to say I was looking like a cave man and had hair growing on my face in areas I didn’t know could grow hair.

A friend referred me to this barber shop called A+ Plus Cuts, and I thought to myself, "I sure hope they deliver an A+ Plus Cut :-)"

I walked into a very heated debate in the barber shop about Kobe and LeBron and who is better.

The main argument was: Who had the most complete game, and who has the better supporting cast?

I personally believe that Kobe has the more mature and effective game; very few people in the NBA have had a talent this refreshing, yet entertaining to watch.

Kobe breaks down opponents with finesse while hardly breaking a sweat. He reminds me of Jordan’s game after he came back from he’s first retirement for the 1995-1996 season.

For those of you too young to remember, and/or too busy to see those great games on ESPN Classic, Jordan came back from retirement with the post-up, fade-away jumper and really long, almost-flat three-point shot.

This helped to preserve his aging knees, and he went on to play 35 minutes or more a night for three more seasons.

For now, LeBron is still improving on his game and adding new assets to his portfolio every day. Last year, he added the long-range shot, and so far it seem like his three-point shots are getting better.

But for now, his No. 1 asset still remains driving it hard to the basket, over or around an opponent.

Kobe Bryant and LeBron James are both just above-average defenders, so comparison in this area is a waste of time. But the argument in the barber shop actually focused more on this area.

They talked about Kobe’s ability to actually shut down individual players and LeBron’s amazing shot-blocking ability on the glass (Reggie Miller still believes it was goal tending:-)).

Here’s the thing: Both Kobe and LeBron never really need to defend the best player on the other team, and when it does happen, it’s always on the last play of the game or the final seconds.

Most average fans never get to see all the games, but they do get to see five hours of SportsCenter and the nonstop repetition of a good defensive play by any of these guys.

But if I have to really choose between these two of who has the better defensive skill, I’ll go with Kobe again.

The only reason we keep singing the praise of LeBron as a defensive player is because of all those blocked shots on the glass. Have any of you really seen this giant called LeBron?

I don’t mean from the stands in a game; I mean have you ever stood in front of the edifice called the King? He’s listed at 6'8"; I say they lie. That guy is 7'11" (as in seven feet, 11 inches). I bet flat-footed he could touch the box just above the rim.

He’s young and athletic, and just like Dwight Howard (another giant), and he can really jump.

Kobe might not have the MJ or Scottie Pippen one-on-one lock-down ability, but he does hold his own against the best in the league.

When it comes to who has the better team around him, hands down, it’s Kobe.

Ron Artest, Derek Fisher, and Pau Gasol are absolute superstars. Yes, I know Pau Gasol can sometime be soft on defense and sometimes on offense, but when he does come up big, he comes up really big. Remember Tony Kukoc on the Bulls' championship squad? He is the Tony Kukoc of this squad.

Lamar Odom will start on 97 percent of NBA teams out there, but he comes off the bench on this Lakers team.

LeBron plays with at best B+ players and a Shaq with Patrick Ewing syndrome (No offense Shaq. The Big Aristotle is still my main man).

LeBron James will eventually be better than Kobe. Kobe, at this point, is playing the best basketball he will ever play. In other words: He has peaked.

LeBron is still growing as a player and already being compared to some of the all-time greats.

And with regards A+ Plus Cuts, they delivered an A+ Plus Cut :-)