Why Kobe is Better Than LeBron

If you had to bet the mortgage on who will win this year's NBA Finals, is it the Kobe Bryant-led Los Angeles Lakers or the Cleveland Cavaliers with LeBron James? Forget career statistics, don't worry about career progression, and stop thinking about starting a franchise with one of these players. The 2009-2010 playoffs start soon. Kobe and LeBron are the two most important players on the two best teams. Who has the edge in 2010?

The primary objective of the NBA is to win a championship and because sports teams are now considered businesses, the secondary objective is to make money. Three questions that shape the 2010 Kobe vs. LeBron debate are: who is in a better position to win it all? Who will have the better performance in the playoffs? Who is bringing in the most dollars to their franchise and the NBA?

Who is in a better position to win it all? Time and again, the argument is made that LeBron does not have the right supporting cast or right coach in Cleveland. This is the seventh year James has been in the NBA. It is generally thought that LeBron helped bring Shaquille O'Neal to Cleveland and James approved of keeping Mike Brown as coach.

It is also widely believed that Kobe welcomed Ron Artest, and wants to keep Phil Jackson as coach of the Lakers. Is Kobe in a better position to win it all, because LeBron's personnel moves are not as savvy as Kobe's? If this is the case, then advantage Kobe.

It is clear that each player has heavy influence in their organization's futures. Currently, LeBron is holding the Cavaliers and entire city of Cleveland hostage with all of the discussion surrounding his possible departure. While Kobe has just signed a three-year deal providing stability to the Lakers, LeBron continues to woo and be wooed by the bright lights of New York City. Is Kobe in a better position to win the championship by his design? Has LeBron jeopardized bringing in the right talent to win a championship by not signing a long-term deal and making the Cavaliers one of the least stable organizations in the NBA?

It is not a stretch to say that with LeBron, Cleveland is one of the most valuable NBA franchises and without him, they are a small-market team struggling to fill an arena in this economy. The NBA rollercoaster in Cleveland is dependent on King James and he has been in the front seat of this ride for over two years.

Who are the players and who is the coach needed for LeBron to finally win it all? This year, he has Shaquille O'Neal and Antawn Jamison. Does he need Mike Krzyzewski, Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, Camelo Anthony, and Dwight Howard to win an NBA title? Should the NBA require the USA Olympic team move to Cleveland so that LeBron can finally have the supporting cast he needs to showcase his talent?

Do the players around Kobe make him better or does Kobe make the players around him better? Is Lamar Odom a player who can win a championship as the star of a team? He wasn't when he was the Los Angeles Clippers and Miami Heat. Is Pau Gasol capable of carrying the Lakers to a championship on his own? He couldn't when he was with the Memphis Grizzlies. When Kobe had Shaquille O'Neal, the Lakers were unstoppable in the playoffs. Now that LeBron has O'Neal, will they cruise in the Eastern Conference? If not, why was O'Neal brought on the team?

Who will have the better performance in the playoffs? In 2010, there are two sides to this discussion: statistics vs. rings. LeBron dominates most, if not all statistical categories, against playoff teams when compared to Kobe, while Kobe has the hardware. If the games were played on paper, LeBron vs. Kobe is no contest.

LeBron would dominate every team in the playoffs regardless of conference. In a review of the following statistics: points per game, field goal percentage, three-point field goal percentage, rebounds per game, assists per game, steals per game, and blocks per game, LeBron is better.

A head-to-head comparison of the two players shows LeBron is better than Kobe against 10 out of the 15 playoff teams in points per game and field goal percentage. LeBron is better than Kobe against 8 out of the 15 teams in three point percentage, 14 out of 15 in rebounds per game, 10 out of 15 teams in steals per game, and 15 out of 15 teams in assists and blocks per game. In head-to-head competition, LeBron is better than Kobe in all of the above statistics with the exception of three-point percentage and rebounds per game.

Unfortunately, games are played on the court and it is tough to forget about Kobe's four championships and six Finals appearances. LeBron's only championship run ended at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs. Kobe has now proven he can without Shaquille O'Neal. LeBron will try to win with O'Neal coming off an injury; the Cavs may need his aging body to bang against the new Superman in Dwight Howard.

Entering the 2009-2010 playoffs, there is a much greater advantage to having a championship pedigree than not. The last 29 NBA championships have been won by only eight teams. Miami and Philadelphia are the only franchises that have won the title once since the 1979-1980 season. Will 2010 be Cleveland's first or the Lakers' ninth in 29 years? If one has to choose the Lakers vs. the field or the Cavaliers vs. the field, it is hard not to take Team Kobe.

Who is bringing in the most dollars to their franchise and the NBA? The hype machine tends to be in overdrive when it comes to superlatives describing LeBron James. He came into the league King James, while Kobe Bryant came in as the 13th pick behind Vitaly Potapenko. Hype generally translates to money, but upon closer inspection of four dollar-driving criteria, Kobe has an edge in three of the categories in 2010. The four criteria reviewed include: home attendance, road attendance, jersey sales, and team merchandise.

According to an NBA.com report posted on Jan 20, 2010, Kobe Bryant topped the NBA's Most Popular Jerseys list. He has had this title since the 2008-2009 season. NBA.com indicates that the rankings are based on sales at the NBA Store in New York City and NBAStore.com since the start of the 2009-10 NBA season. LeBron James is in the second spot. The Los Angeles Lakers topped the Boston Celtics for the Most Popular NBA Team Merchandise edging the Celtics, while the Cleveland Cavaliers were number three.

Attendance figures, tell a more even story. Through 37 home games the Lakers average 18,997 in home attendance while the Cavaliers have averaged 20,562 through 36 games. The Lakers are at 99.7% capacity while the Cavaliers are at 100%. This gives a slight edge to LeBron. The Cavaliers, however, are a slightly poorer draw on the road as their road average is 19,153, while the Lakers' average 19,172. Nineteen fans a game is certainly a very slight edge, but winning by 1 or 91 is still a win.

If dollars were votes, Kobe and the Lakers would win this election on three of the four "basketball is a business" criteria. It would appear as though LeBron James' goal of being a global icon will have to wait until 2011. Next season could be different as James has already requested a new jersey number, and he may change teams.

Overall in 2010, the edge goes to Kobe as it generally has since LeBron has entered the league. There will be a time of course, when LeBron is finally surrounded by the the right supporting cast and is paired with the right coach. All of this will come true eventually, because the NBA has invested too much for it not to happen. When it does, however, Kevin Durant will probably have the better statistics, more upside, and he too will be waiting for the right supporting cast and right coach. Actually, some scouts say Kevin Durant has already surpassed LeBron in terms of his basketball skill-set.

When comparing LeBron and Kobe in 2010, it is easy to see why Kobe Bryant is today's king, while LeBron is next in line regarding succession in the NBA kingdom. The ascension to the throne is getting longer, however, with the emergence of Kevin Durant.

Comments and Conversation

April 5, 2010


this was the most retarded article ive ever read..it dusnt Make sense

April 5, 2010


reading this article=biggest waste of time, ever

April 6, 2010


Yeah, you’re right. All that does prove Kobe is better than Lebron. What an effing joke!

April 6, 2010

this article is a joke:

what a stupid article, shaq is past his prime now. thats why him and lebron cant be like him and kobe were in the old days. and dont forget that kobe first drove shaq out of la, then whined and threw a tantrum about wanting to be traded. kobe is also a ballhog who got called out by gasol (his own teammate) this season.

get your facts straight. honestly.

April 6, 2010


I want those minutes back! For everybody else, this is an article by a guy who LOOOOOOOVES Kobe Bryant. You don’t have to read it.

April 6, 2010


the comments here are immature. The author is using a specific criteria for determining who the best player is. The MVP is a reflection of this, I didn’t like it when Steve Nash won 2 MVP’s. It’s a perception and popularity contest. I think as Jerry West said i think last year, Lebron has surpased Kobe. He has better vision, is better athlete, and good skill set to match. Kobe is proven. It depends on what you value. Either way, this is a big year for James, put up or shut up.

April 6, 2010


Was this written by a 16 year old kid?

Ron Artest is too stupid to learn the triangle while Shaq addressed the reason they lost last year AND Jamison fit in seamlessly with the Cavs. But Artest is the more savvy move? By the way, Artest has done a worse job guarding Lebron this year than he has any other year. At least Shaq can accomplish the 1 task he was brought to Cleveland for.

Lebron is heading into his prime. Keeping his options open till the summer will land him more money. Like you said, it’s a business. Kobe is heading out of his prime and is just seeking stability, which is why he resigned. You seem to be forgetting about when Kobe was DEMANDING a trade out of LA cause he didn’t have the proper talent around him. Yea, Kobe is such a class act.

The Cavs are only the 12th team in NBA HISTORY to have back to back 60 win seasons, but they’re unstable??

Lebron has yet to play along a great player in his prime. A 33 year old Jamison and 36 year old Shaq are the best players he’s played with. Kobe played with Shaq in his prime, Gasol in his prime, Fisher in his prime, and Lamar in his prime. To use the statement that Lebron needs a whole Olympic team to win a ring just illustrates that you have NO IDEA what you’re talking about, and you’re probably 12 years old.

Saying Kobe makes the players around him better moreso than Lebron once again illustrates that you know NOTHING about basketball. Kobe is not the team player that Lebron is. Kobe consistently puts up 30 shots when Lebron is looking to pass. Kobe doesn’t make Pau better. Pau makes the Lakers better. Meanwhile Lebron is leading the likes of Anderson Varejao to $50 million deals.

Take a look at the starting 5 of the Cavs team that made the finals. Larry Hughes, Sasha Pavlovic, Lebron, Drew Gooden, and Z. Kobe could NEVER take that team to the finals. EVER. And the argument that Lebron needs Shaq is furthermore idiotic since it’s well known that Shaq is far from his prime, while he was well in his prime in LA. Shaq is nothing more than a role player in Cleveland. There is NO ONE in the NBA who makes his teammates better than Lebron James. Even a Kobe homer will admit that. Once again showing that you are an idiot.

Kobe has more championships than Lebron therefore he’s a better player. How many years does Kobe have on Lebron? 7 years? Exactly. Idiot. MJ didn’t win his 1st ring till his 7th year in the league so if MJ in Lebron’s spot Kobe would be better than Jordan cause he has more rings. Wait till the end of their careers to make that argument. And by the way, Kobe was the headline player on only 1 of his 4 championship teams. Don’t forget that.

Kobe brings more money to his franchise therefore he’s a better player. If you don’t see the stupidity on that argument that you probably haven’t made it this far into this rebuttal. Kobe plays in the 2nd biggest market in the country. Of course he’s gonna bring more money. Not only is everything more expensive there, there are millions of more people. Divide the total revenue by the population of the market and see if Kobe is still on top.

Lebron has a more loyal following at home, but Kobe draws NINETEEN more fans on the road than Lebron, therefore Kobe is a better player. WHAT!?!?

Lebron is better in every statistical category and makes his teammates infinitely better than Kobe does to his teammates, but Kobe is the better player because his front office has done what was necessary to surround him with talent, Kobe brought Artest, who has been a horrible fit, to LA, Kobe already signed an extension, the Cavs are “unstable”, Kobe makes his teammates better than Lebron makes his teammates (FALSE!!!), Lebron needs past their prime big men while Kobe needs in their prime more skilled big men, Kobe has more rings even though he’s played 7 more seasons, and Kobe sells more jerseys. Therefore, Kobe is the better player. This is beyond a joke. I can’t believe ESPN linked me to this nonsense.

April 6, 2010


Points well taken, experience over youth, Lebrons time will come soon enough.

April 6, 2010


I liked the article it made think who is the better player. Keep up the good work I enjoyed it I look forward to the next one by this young author.

April 6, 2010


Very poorly written article with bad points and a nonsensical conclusion based upon said bad points.

Don’t waste your time reading this article.

April 6, 2010


Hey Stan, it said leave a comment, not write your own f-ing blog…

April 6, 2010

Kevin Fulmer:

Kobe actually has six finals appearances not five ( with the losses coming from the Celtics and Pistons)

April 6, 2010


Stan, you are an idiot. I understand you are a Labron fan, but this “16 year-old” is having his article linked by ESPN while you are only commenting on it. So don’t bash the writer for his opinions, come up with facts that prove him wrong.

Anyway, in my OPINION, Durant has been the clear MVP this year with what he has done with what he is surrounded with. Not saying he is better than Labron or Kobe, just this years MVP.

April 6, 2010


I recently started using one criteria to judge players: the Hall of Fame.

If LeBron were injured today and had to retire the NBA, would he join the Hall of Fame 20 years from now? With no rings, no outstanding contributions to the game, I doubt it.

If Kobe had to retire today, would he be nominated forthe Hall of Fame? I am sure Kobe’s historic contributions are far more significant.

April 7, 2010


Why to put the Cavs in the finals AGAIN.

They won’t get past the Dwight Howard lead Magic. Why DH and the Magic don’t get ANY respect is beyond me.

Also, the Lakers aren’t looking like the NBA champs right now either. I’ll be surprised if they get out of the west.

Another long-winded meaningless article about Kobe vs LeBron….go figure.

April 11, 2010


is this article a joke? Look, the majority of NBA fans know Lebron is better, just the last remaining Kobe fanboys reaching for anything to claim that their guy is better.

April 12, 2010

Andrew Jones:

I’m failing to understand how you are seeming to argue that Lebron James is keeping the Cleveland franchise alive in regards to money and filling the stadium and don’t find that more valuable than Kobe being in LA where the Lakers would sell tickets no matter who was playing. If the criteria is who will lead you to a championship, you have made your point. If money is as large of factor as your second paragraph says it is, I think the race is a lot closer than you’re admitting.

May 4, 2010


Kobe is better, Lebron is overrated and gets away with traveling more than any other superstar I have ever seen.

May 28, 2010


Its the playoffs now,and ya boy labron is not there in the end again.how do you kobe haters feel now.what more can kb do,4championships out of 6finals and on his way back to another.he’s proven once again why he is the best player in the world,better than dominique I meen labron “real good but not great”

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