Evolution

“Caught a glimpse of myself in the Barney’s shop window…kinda see my father’s features creepin’ in a little…”


Nas – War

There is a debate within the NBA and various media outlets that asks the question of who is the better, or best NBA player, Kobe Bryant, or LeBron James. Most recently with Bryant netting 61 points, and 3 assists last Monday in Madison Square Garden, and James following that up with 52 points, and a near triple-double in the same building…the discussion has escalated to a fever pitch. Last week LeBron was on the cover of GQ, and Sports Illustrated, and Gentlemen’s Quarterly outright claimed King James as the best while SI alluded to the fact that both he and Kobe are the best.

Boys II Men

The Eastern and Western NBA Conference players of January are KB and the King, as they have helped their respective teams to the best records in the league, as the questions of supremacy linger on. Nevertheless, I believe that there is no argument, because LeBron James, is essentially a younger Kobe Bryant, in terms of basketball…they are one in the same.

By 1998, Bryant had come into his own, no longer the rookie, as he was ready to carve out his niche and take what he felt was rightfully his. The only person in his way was Michael Jordan, so the talks of Kobe being the next Jordan, or better than MJ started, when Bryant was merely part of the youth movement, just as Michael was in 1984.

As Michael Jordan grew in statue and name…becoming Air Jordan, the “so-called” experts figured that he was the next Julius Erving, however all the great players evolved from the players before them. The good Dr. played a similar game to the high flying and scoring Elgin Baylor, so you see the torch is passed down from generation to generation. The mainstream media will mislead you to believe that some athletes are “better” than or possess more basketball prowess than the “other”, when in reality they are very similar, bringing their own idiosyncrasies and desire to their team, and ultimately their game.

A few years ago LeBron was at that same crossroads as Bryant before him, being compared instead of people appreciating him for being his own man. Do Kobe and LeBron want to be the best and win championships…yes…do they want to be compared to one another, Michael Jordan, or Magic Johnson, in the process…no.

They are competitive so when James played in New York 2-days after Kobe, you need to understand that winning the game, and setting the new Madison Square Garden scoring record was a high priority. I knew that from the confident look on Jay-Z’s face, when I he gave me dap leaving the game on Monday, and that my friends is the beauty of basketball.

I do not believe in words like Jordanesque, therefore I choose not to use it in my lexicon. I don’t feel that there is one player better than all the others that have played the game, rather each era has it’s dominant player or players, and while LeBron James is the future of the League, the heir to the throne…the chosen one, we must remember that Kobe Bryant was also chosen, and until he retires, the great debate will unfortunately continue.

Photo: LeBron James – Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

41 Responses to “Evolution”

  1. KevDog says:

    LeBron’s skilset is pathetic. His J ugly and I got a headache this afternoon when those bricked FT’s made such a loud “clank.”

    Sorry but LeBon is like Robert Frost-Miles to go before he sleeps.

  2. michelle says:

    KevDog,

    And I have promises to keep……… I had to recite this poem in 7th grade. LOL! I’m going with Kobe to. I do however see AXG’s point. Nice article. No matter the sport each great athlete brings something special to the game.

  3. Origin says:

    “I got a headache this afternoon when those bricked FT’s made such a loud “clank.” ”

    LOL!!!!!

    Kevdog you are killing me…………LOL!!!

  4. AXG says:

    I’m a BIG Kobe fan, however LeBron James is a very special player and he and Kobe are very important to my job as a journalist. The League is in good hands when Kobe retires, after his 4th ring that is!

    And thanks Michelle, I appreciate you.

  5. KevDog says:

    Kobe ain’t retiring after 4. he’s going for 7. And with this core, he’ll have a good shot at it.

    And yeah, LeBron is a very special athlete, but as a player, he’s, well, a great athlete. His skilset sucks. His foot work sucks. He has no midrange game or post up game or outisde game and his shot is off-balanc e and prone to him sticking out his elbow. He gets by on shear athleticism alone. There is no comparison between the players.

  6. Mizzo says:

    Great work as usual fam. Thanks for putting this in the proper perspective.

    Kev he’s 24 and murdering the league. He will be one of the best of all time. That’s saying something.

  7. GrandNubian says:

    I’m still taking D-Wade over them both……….

  8. kos says:

    KevDog –

    Try being honest sometime! lol Seriously, no comparison. KB 24 all the way.

    The game yesterday between them just further illustrated how much better Kobe is than LeBron. The fact that Kobe, being at least 50 lbs. less than James and having the flu, could post him up, fend him off, and get his shot off tells you all that you need to know. LeBron has the body of a linebacker, but his game is severely lacking. The worst thing that ever happened to him, was when his owner fired Paul Silas for being a real coach, and making decisions best for the team, not for the owner’s ego. Mike Brown isn’t doing LeBron any real favors by letting him play however he wants.

  9. KevDog says:

    kos-That’s what I’m talking about

    GN-You’re just being contrary.

    Mizzo-We’ll take that top ranking now please.

  10. Mizzo says:

    We’ll see Wednesday brothaman.

  11. KevDog says:

    LOL, playing coy, that’s cute.

  12. GrandNubian says:

    KevDog,

    I may be contrary but that’s how I feel. 🙂

  13. Temple3 says:

    I’m with the Grand Nubian, too.

    LeBron’s game is very interesting. It is all those things that KevDog and kos say that it is. It’s very compelling, though, to watch this Bull in the China Shop routine. One can only imagine what he’d be able to do if he was a more accomplished basketball player.

    I don’t find myself drawn to watching his games. I can just watch the highlights and I’m good. Still, the sky is the limit. Maybe I’m just aging like old-ass KevDog. 🙂

    Young Mr. James appears to be a student of the game and will definitely improve. My wish list for him would include:

    1) Mid-range offensive game. The better he is inside the arc and below the rim, the easier it will be for him to get to the hoop and play above the rim.

    2) Free throws. If he can get his percentage up to the Kobe range (or the Ray Allen range), he would effectively guarantee that the Cavs can stay in games by virtue of his OFFENSE. The difference between high 70’s and mid to high 80’s is 2 or 3 post-season wins.

    3) Keep ignoring the haters.

    KD — you’ve gotta let the young man grown into his GAME, much less grown into his body. Give him a minute — it’s not like he’s the one who started the debate. You just focus on keepin’ your boy outta Colorado! 😉

  14. BettorFan says:

    They both elevate the game to a new level. Who’s the best – I don’t know, but you can’t discount what they do to the game.

  15. KevDog says:

    GN-Wade ain’t in the conversation with Kobe, honestly, he just ain’t.

    T3. Thing about James is, He has gone on record as saying that his goal is to be as famous as Ali and richer than Tiger. But he also went on record after his team lost in the ECF last year as saying that he didn’t have anything new to his game, just a little refining. Now Kobe OTOH, it’s all about being the GOAT. That’s why I;m so down on Lebron. His athleticism is his crutch, it’ll diminish one day, as will his athletic advantage. Then what will he do?

  16. Mizzo says:

    Man you are talking ten years. The only thing that will stop him from being top five all time is a Hill, Kidd or Webber like injury.

    He will work on his game and clashes with Kobe will expand his learning curve exponentially.

  17. KevDog says:

    I’d have a hard time seeing him go down as top 5 of all time. You’ve got Kareem, Wilt, Russell, Shaq, Akeem, Jordan, Kobe, Magic, Oscar, Bird, Malone, Elgin, Garnett, Duncan all being at least as good as he’s likely to ever get without developing other facets of his game.

  18. Temple3 says:

    KevDog:

    I hear that. “Want to” shows up first every day…just like Mr. Bryant.

  19. Temple3 says:

    Mizzo:

    How many rings does LBJ have to win to crack that group?

    I’d say he’s gotta win about 5.

  20. Mizzo says:

    I totally disagree. He’s as athletic as any on the list and likely will develop a game to rival any and possibly all. He’ll definitely have the numbers–triple doubles, mvp awards, possible rings, first team all pros, all star appearances…what else?

    Were any this good at 24 except Mike, Kareem, Oscar and Wilt? Those aforementioned (in your list) had the luxury of playing on great teams with the exceptions obviously being Shaq and Garnett.

    Put him on the Lakers in ’80 and he would have been Magic. Same with the Celtics with 33.

    He and Kobe’s mirror year is this season. He’s already taken one team to the Finals, what else does he have to do.

    I’ve been very critical of LeBron off the court but speaking with him on occasion and being able to see through the production levels of being a “corporation”, I see he’s on the path to historic greatness.

    I’d add Julius Erving to that group and he has one ring. He was the Donovan McNabb Sixer before Moses arrived.

    Does he have to win multiple rings to be considered the GOAT, damn right, but he’s 24. There’s time.

  21. KevDog says:

    Well Miz. I hope he does contnue on that path. I’m a fan of great basketball, it’s the only sport I watch now except for when the Williams play Tennis or Tiger plays golf and Kobe will start to decline in about 5 years. So I’m hoping someone makes the game as fun to watch for me as Kobe does then.

  22. KevDog says:

    I never saw Dr. J play in the ABA, but I wouldn’t put his NBA career in the same league as the others in the list. And interestingly enough, recently someone asked him when did he develop his mid-range J and he said when his athleticism started to fade. Let’s hope that LeBron doesn’t follow the same path.

  23. Mizzo says:

    Dr. J was the best player in the NBA until Moses arrived. He was the best in the ABA before making the jump with rings and mvps. I think we have short memories because of his ambassador glare. Without Doc, there is no Kobe.

  24. Mizzo says:

    As far as LeBron developing a mid-range game….he has to. Doc had specialists around him so all he had to do was slash. Toney was beginning to hit his prime when they were top dog.

    Let me finish this piece…damn 😉

  25. Temple3 says:

    Is LeBron already in your top 5?

  26. Mizzo says:

    Of course not.

  27. Mizzo says:

    As far as Kev’s list, LeBron is one of the few players (Magic, Dream) whose skills transcend the entire list.

    The name I’m beginning to hear from the all time greats in comparison is George Macginnis.

  28. GrandNubian says:

    KevDog,

    He’s not in your convo but he’s definitely in mine. He plays team ball, he gets his teammates involved, he takes over the game when he has to, he plays great defense and he’s led his team to the title while having perhaps the best finals performance of ANY player in NBA history.

    And he’s not in the conversation? If you say so bruh.

    Regarding Lebron vs. Kobe…..

    At this point in his career, Lebron has things to work on to close the gap but at the same time, there are things that he does better than Kobe:

    1. Rebounding
    2. Passing the ball
    3. Getting teammates involved
    4. Defending in the paint
    5. Blocking shots

    Lebron has to work on his low-post and mid-range game. I have no doubt that he will do that, just like he worked on his defense. Right now, Kobe is the more skilled of the two but Lebron is better than Kobe was at 24.

    But as i’ve been saying since 2005, i’ll take Wade over them both.

    Kobe in the top 5 of all-time? You’re kidding me, right?

  29. Temple3 says:

    Check out McGinnis’ last year in the ABA: 30, 14, 6.
    http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/m/mcginge01.html

    I was just skimming through “Loose Balls” on line….great stories about McGinnis. I’d say 6’8″ and 235 in 1975 is probably the equivalent of about 6’10 or 6’11 and 275 or 280 today. If I see that coming down the lane — with a handle, I’m out.

  30. KevDog says:

    GN, you can’t be serious.

    Wade’s finals MVP was a complete referee deciding the outcome sham. I won’t even go into the statistics regarding that particular outrage. But just looking at skillset you’d be hard pressed to show exactly where Wade is better than Kobe. Here’s what Wade can do. He can drive to his right. He can drive to his left for 1 or 2 dribbles and then spin back to his right and finish there. He can pass from the to of the key and cross court, he can play the passing lanes and steal balls, he can rebound and he can make blocks from the weakside. Kobe can do all of those things but he can do these things that Wade can’t. He can finish with either hand. His range is out to 27 feet legitimately, he can post up players up to and including LeBron James size and athleticism, he can play lock down on ball and denial D. He can guard 1-3 sometimes 4 as LeBron knows all too well, he can make the interior pass, he can consistantly hit the big shot. Wade lacks the post game and outside game and the size to be in Kobe’s class.

    LeBron is a better rebounder than Kobe and he finishes better than Kobe and makes weakside blocks better than Kobe and that’s it. He isn’t close to being the passer Kobe is and he hasn’t a clue how to defend his man on the perimeter or to deny his man the ball.

    And please, all this talk about Wade and LeBron being better at getting teammates involved is simply nonsense. You need to look at the standard NBA offensive set, versus the Triangle to understand why assist totals in the Tri can’t be compared. In the Tri, the man on the block has the option to either take advantage of a mismatch or wait for a double to develop and then exploit that. Since Kobe has a mismatch virtually every time he goes down in the post, he shoots the ball because he has that shot in his bag. LeBron and Wade don’t so they much more often from the post make the cross court pass. In the Tri, the man up top with the ball initiates the offense and more often than not makes the pass that leads to the pass that is the assist. In standard NBA set, that ball that comes out of the hands of the man up top goes straight to the shooter. Look at the game man.

    As far as Kobe top 5. Absolutely. He does things no one has ever done from the perimeter including Jordan. Do you want me to list them?

  31. Mizzo says:

    What is all this about LeBron needing to up his passing game?

    You can’t be serious. I think he’s up around 9 or 10 per 48 minutes (averaging 7 plus). How many trip dubs does he have already? I think he has 3 this year and numerous games of ten plus assists.

    His court vision is sickdiculous. I don’t know why you all are selling the brotha short.

  32. Temple3 says:

    This is great stuff.

    I don’t agree that the refs merely rolled over and gave that finals series to Wade. He’s the one who consistently drove the lane and forced the issue. The Mavericks didn’t have a single player step up and say, “I’ve got this.” They spent the series reaching and grabbing and clutching and playing out of position.

    Wade can finish with either hand — and in traffic. That’s just not compelling as an argument. He routinely finishes with both hands above and below the rim. Kobe has a better handle, shoots better from the line and from deep. He’s a better rebounder. Wade averages more assists — and I agree with the points you made about the triangle (sort of), but low assist totals — even in that offense seem to be a better indicator of scrub teammates. Wade, to my mind, is a better passer regardless of the stats. In other words, I think he throws more and better passes to players in a position in which they can do something. I think that’s the case on the perimeter. I don’t believe Kobe takes a back seat to anyone when it comes to interior passing. He’s very good there.

    Wade is an excellent rebounder — but he doesn’t have to do it all the time. He’s 3 to 4 inches shorter than Bryant, but he’s very effective on the glass — particularly when it comes to leading the break from the glass.

    Ultimately, it comes down to a preference here. Kobe is hands down statistically superior and he’s got the hardware to back it up…and every thing else. Still, if you like Wade, you KNOW he can win big games with his deep shooting and from the line…he’s got the hardware to prove it.

    One day, we may finally get to see the proof put to the pudding.

  33. GrandNubian says:

    KevDog,

    I’m as serious as a heart attack.

    According to you, it’s always a sham with the refs when Kobe is not involved. 🙂

    Wade averaged 34.7, 7.8 rebs, 4 dimes and brought his team back from 2-0 to win it all. The most efficient performance in Finals history. If that’s a sham then i’ll take it anyday over being 0-2 when leading your team to the Finals.

    Listen, the only aspect of the game where Kobe has the clear advantage on Wade is his shooting range and free throws. Wade can do everything you credited him with and those things you slighted him on. It’s obvious that you haven’t been watching dude play, or maybe you have but chose not to admit it. 🙂

    Like I told you in another thread, don’t let his height (6’4) fool you. Dude is deadly in the post near the baseline.

    The reason Lebron is a better passer than Kobe is because Kobe doesn’t pass the ball with efficiency. He’d rather take a low percentage shot to appear on Sports Center instead of keeping his mates involved by making the pass.

    I understand the Tri-angle because I watched the Bulls use it en route to 6 NBA titles. But I’ve also watched Kobe on several occasions force bad shots while having an open teammate on the weakside. Up until last year, he wasn’t trusting his teammates, which was the biggest flaw with his game.

    “As far as Kobe top 5. Absolutely. He does things no one has ever done from the perimeter including Jordan. Do you want me to list them?”

    By all means, please do……

    So, just because Kobe alledgely does things from the perimeter that no one else has ever done, that automatically puts him in the top 5? This should be good.

  34. GrandNubian says:

    “What is all this about LeBron needing to up his passing game?

    You can’t be serious. I think he’s up around 9 or 10 per 48 minutes (averaging 7 plus). How many trip dubs does he have already? I think he has 3 this year and numerous games of ten plus assists.

    His court vision is sickdiculous. I don’t know why you all are selling the brotha short.”

    Exactly Mizz…..I don’t know why people hate on Lebron. Dude has over 20 triple dubs in his career and is only 24. The way he sets up his teammates and puts them in position to score is ridiculous!

    Sure, he has things he needs to work on (and he will) but to say he can’t pass and doesn’t play defense is asinine.

    According to media pundits, if the season ended today, Lebron or Wade would be defensive player of the year. Having watched them both all season on NBA League Pass, they may have a very compelling case.

  35. Mizzo says:

    Magic pg
    Jordan sg
    Erving sf
    Russell pf
    Chamberlain c

    Robertson
    Kobe
    Baylor
    M. Malone
    Abdul-Jabbar

    Thomas
    West
    Pippen
    Duncan
    Dream

    Frazier
    Gervin
    Bird
    K. Malone
    Shaq

    Stockton
    Iverson
    Wilkins
    Barkley
    Robinson

  36. Temple3 says:

    I can see this is going nowhere.

    KevDog is blind and GrandNubian is deaf and we’re all dumb. 🙂

  37. GrandNubian says:

    LOL…… 🙂

  38. kory says:

    kobe above baylor lol hahaha please