When asked if Lebron James is better than Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan emphatically said “no”.
Jordan: Kobe Bryant better than LeBron James
Kobe Bryant better than LeBron James… Really? His reasoning? The number of rings.
“Would I rank LeBron over Kobe in terms of best of all time? There’s something about five that beats three. … Kobe won five championships. LeBron won three. Although, he’s been to seven Finals or something like that.”
Or something like that.
Yes, seven straight finals, eight overall. The number of rings may not be the best way of determining who the better basketball player is.
While Bryant ended his career 5-2, and James is currently 3-5, Yahoo Sports’ Ben Rohrbach reminds us that based on this logic, almost every player from the 1960s would rank higher than Jordan. Just based on ring count.
What if they played for different teams during a different time?
It is acceptable to use titles as a measurement – but we also need to take into account whether both players in their prime could still be as successful as they have been, had they swapped teams and played during a different era. That is, James playing for the LA Lakers in 2004 and Bryant playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016.
Another way to compare them
It’s also wise to keep in mind that Bryant won two Finals MVP awards, amidst doubts that he deserved the 2010 one at all.
Meanwhile, James won Finals MVP all three times he won the title, with most fans agreeing he deserved that title in 2015 despite losing.
The important stats
Rohrbach supplied two key statistics that disputes Jordan’s ring logic.
James’ career averages: 27.1 points (58.4 true shooting percentage), 7.3 rebounds, seven assists and 2.4 combined blocks and steals, along with a 27.6 player efficiency rating and 205.4 win shares.
Bryant’s career averages: 25 points (55 true shooting percentage), 5.2 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.9 combined blocks and steals, along with a 22.9 player efficiency rating and 172.7 win shares.
James: 28.4 points (57.4 true shooting percentage), 8.9 rebounds, 6.9 assists and 2.8 combined blocks/steals, along with a 27.9 player efficiency rating and 45.8 win shares.
Bryant: 25.6 points (54.1 true shooting percentage), 5.1 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 2.1 combined blocks/steals, along with a 22.4 player efficiency rating and 28.3 win shares.
Statistically, James beats Bryant hands down.
Bryant was renowned for his great scoring ability, yet James is still ahead in points per game and shooting percentage. James’ rebounding, playmaking and flexibility in defending all five positions can easily put an end to all arguments.
So is Kobe Bryant better than LeBron James? You tell me. (in the comments section below)
by Yvonne Hew – contributor