On Fox Sports 1’s “Undisputed” show, the legendary Los Angeles Lakers legend Jerry West said he believes LeBron James is better than Kobe Bryant was at the same stage in their careers. “To me, it’s a no-brainer,” West said. “I think LeBron James now, at this point in his career, I think he’s a much better player than Kobe Bryant was at this time. I think LeBron James is much more complete at the game now. I think LeBron James is much more complete now. I think LeBron James can do a lot more things now.”
It was only a few years ago that Kobe Bryant was considered to be maybe Kobe maybe. At the end of the day, West had more rings, was a better scorer, more proficient shooter, and won his first championship at a later age. West was much more than just a defensive stopper and a solid penetrator. He was the ultimate competitor and was very tough to guard.
On the eve of the NBA Finals, Hall of Famer Jerry West chimed in on LeBron James and Kobe Bryant: “I’ve watched LeBron and watched Kobe,” West said. “When his career is over, LeBron will be a better basketball player than Kobe is now. I don’t think he’ll ever be better than Kobe Bryant. To me, it’s a no-brainer.”
When Jerry West speaks, people pay attention. One of the greatest players of all time, the 14-time All-Star and 10-time All-NBA First Team pick is one of the best players of all time. As an executive, he has also won eight championships and two NBA Executive of the Year awards.
The Logo, as general manager of the Los Angeles Lakers, was responsible for, among other things, executing the draft-day trade that brought Kobe Bryant to LA in 1996. West set the groundwork for a future Laker dynasty led by Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, West’s most high-profile free-agent acquisition.
Despite the fact that West and Kobe had a strong friendship, Mr. Clutch said that a 24-year-old LeBron James had already surpassed the future Hall of Famer.
The dispute between LeBron James and Kobe Bryant dominated the 2000s.
The puppet version of Kobe vs. LeBron is the closest we ever really got to a true rivalry pic.twitter.com/JxPV0jI369
July 28, 2019 — Yahoo Sports NBA (@YahooSportsNBA)
James and Bryant were born seven years apart and played different positions on the floor when they first joined the league. But it didn’t stop NBA fans from arguing over who was the better player of the two.
ESPN assembled a panel of experts and bloggers in 2009 to resolve the dispute. Bryant was still looking for his first title post-Shaq, while James had just one Finals appearance under his belt.
“The thing I see in Kobe is a pure assassin,” Royce Young, now a reporter for ESPN.com, said. That doesn’t seem to be the case with LeBron. LeBron James is a slow cooker, a player who can defeat you in 48 minutes. In one-on-one situations, he’s unstoppable; he can rebound, create for teammates, and man up. But, like Kobe, does he have a feel of the moment? Is it possible for him to just go onto the floor and tell his teammates, “I got this,”? I’m not sure whether he’s arrived yet.”
Former Lakers writer Josh Tucker stated, “Kobe Bryant doesn’t have a one dominating talent that greatly surpasses all others, like LeBron does.” “Instead, he has the NBA’s most comprehensive, diverse, and polished skill set.” “Kobe’s fundamentals aren’t simply superior than LeBron’s when studied closely,” Rob Mahoney, now of The Ringer, said. When seen from virtually any perspective, they are superior.”
One of the panelists, John Krolik, who covers James’ Cleveland Cavaliers, put his support behind the youngster from Akron.
“If you use any kind of sophisticated statistical study to compare these two players, LeBron is going to blow Kobe away,” Krolik said. “For years, LeBron James has been at or near the top of just about every method people have come up with to use statistics to quantify a basketball player’s value.”
“For me, as a person concerned with victories, James is more productive by just about every measure,” TrueHoop’s Henry Abbott said. If I had to choose just one player to start a team with or make a crucial basket, it would be LeBron.”
Jerry West was challenged to choose between LeBron James and Kobe Bryant… and chose LeBron James
While fans and experts debated, NBA legends also weighed in on the Kobe vs. LeBron showdown. West, who had just resigned as the Memphis Grizzlies’ general manager, is one of them.
West was interviewed by Bloomberg’s Scott Soshnick before of the 2009 conference finals, and he addressed the question on everyone’s mind.
West said, “Well, to me, it’s a no-brainer, it’s LeBron James.” “He’s a bit of a wild card. If you want him to play four positions, he can do it, and his ability to get everyone engaged in the game is amazing for someone his age.”
“In today’s basketball, it’s not necessarily the big men that win for you; it’s the people in the middle. LeBron James is a huge man, with a 6-foot-8 frame and 260 pounds of talent. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better athlete play professional basketball.”
West struggled to choose against Bryant, a guy he knew well from their time together in Los Angeles.
“I have a soft spot for [Bryant] since I was the one who brought him to the Lakers,” Wes said. “However, in my opinion, LeBron James has outperformed everyone in the game today. And obviously, I hate to say that because I like Kobe Bryant and all he’s done for the game and, more importantly, the Lakers organization. But, at this point in time, I believe [James] has exceeded them all.”
The Kobe-LeBron rivalry continues to boil.
Following West’s remarks, LeBron went on to win four championships and four league MVP awards. Meanwhile, Kobe became the Lakers’ franchise leader in total points and games played after winning back-to-back championships. However, the debate about who is the superior player continues.
Michael Jordan is the most recent former great to weigh in on the topic. In addition to West, Charles Barkley and Magic Johnson are two other luminaries that responded to the topic. But whomever you choose, both players belong to a small club of players who are even worthy of consideration as one of the GOATs.
Even so, debating is entertaining.
Basketball Reference provided all statistics.
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Before LeBron James won his first ring, Jerry West said LeBron James was a better player than Kobe Bryant: ‘To Me, It’s a No-Brainer’.
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