The debate surrounding which player is currently better between Kobe Bryant and LeBron James is one that stirs up plenty of emotion these days. When you compare the legacies of each player it may be obvious that Kobe has an edge over James, but right now there’s no question that LeBron is the more productive player. While a lot of that has to do with his age, it’s still impressive to see what Bryant is able to do after all the mileage his body has racked up over the last 16 years.
Recently, Ken Berger of CBS asked the only man on the planet who has coached both James and Bryant to explain who he believed was the better player. The answer might surprise you.
“I think it starts when you look at championship rings. The guys who have multiple rings are the ones you mention when you start talking about people’s legacies. They should be mentioned first, because there are a lot of great players out there that I believe can put up great numbers and do great things, especially on a team where you don’t win. It’s a different type of pressure that you go through. To have five of them, and to have the possibility of getting more — six or seven or eight — it’s like, ‘Whoa.’ And that right there by itself is what puts you in a different category.
“If we’re just talking about talent, or pure talent alone, yeah, there are other guys out there that have a high talent level. Are they to the level of Kobe’s? In different aspects of the game. If you’re talking about who’s the most talented passer, LeBron or Kobe, well, LeBron is. Who’s the more talented midrange scorer? Kobe is. Who’s the better attacker? Dwyane Wade is. So they all do different things, I think, better than each other. But at the end of the day, when it comes to combining talent and skill with the most important thing, which is winning, I don’t know how you don’t give [Kobe] the edge.”
Now it’s little surprise that Brown gave the edge to the player he’s currently coaching, but ultimately his response is the same as most Laker fans – count the rings. James’ lack of a championship at this point in his career is the biggest detraction in an otherwise unbelievable career.
Brown explains that Bryant isn’t necessarily the most dominant physical specimen in the league, and that players like Dwyane Wade are better at attacking the basket than Bryant. There’s no question that this is the case in a lot of these scenarios, but if you look purely at the overall body of work throughout an individual’s career, in the NBA right now Kobe Bryant stands alone.