I’ve heard it all: “5 > 3” “Killer Instinct” “Mamba Mentality”, but is Kobe really better than LeBron? No.
In LeBron’s rookie season, he put up 21 ppg , about 6 rebounds and 6 assists per game, (albiet on 42% shooting). From the moment the King stepped on the basketball court he showed Ohio that he was not just their high school phenom, but that he was going to be a champion.
Kobe would not match any of these stats until his fourth year in the NBA. Bryant took longer to develop into a superstar than LeBron for sure, but at least Kobe played incredibly when it mattered, right?
Kobe fans will often point to LeBron’s 2011 finals performance against Dirk Nowitzki and his Dallas Mavericks as the reason why Bryant was a better player. Part of the reason Kobe is 5-2 isn’t because of Shaq, Kobe put up stats of 16 ppg 6 rebounds and 4 assists in a finals WIN! In easily LeBron’s worst finals he put up stats of 18 ppg 7 rebounds and 7 assists, and these stats would be put in a loss and contribute to his 3-5 finals record.
Another argument Kobe fans use to say their idol was better than LeBron are his clutch percentages, but was Kobe more clutch than LeBron?
Kobe shot: 34% in the last two minutes, 25% in the last 30 seconds and 22% in the last 10 seconds to tie or take the lead in playoff games.
LeBron shot: 42% in the last two minutes, 39% in the last 30 seconds, and 37% in the last 10 seconds.
And yes, LeBron took more shots than Kobe did in these time frames.
So the arguments that Kobe fans use to say he’s better than LeBron are invalid, but yes Kobe does have a better finals record than LeBron, and this is a fact.
But can we really criticize LeBron for losing to the Spurs in the 2007 final series with THIS team around him?
Rather we should be impressed by him MAKING it to the finals almost by himself; LeBron is the first player to average a triple double in the NBA finals, he did this while averaging 34 points 12 rebound and 10 assists on 56% shooting. He also beat the 73-9 Golden State Warriors, while averaging 30 points 11 rebounds and 9 assists per game.
Kobe’s best finals performance totaled 32 points 6 rebounds and 7 assists. These statistics are incredible, and nobody argues that Kobe is not one of the greatest basketball players ever, but could he have done much better than LeBron in his 8 finals? Probably not.
Now I know you’re thinking that I have only brought up clutch percentages, points per game, assists per game, and rebounds per game, but how do the two legends’ advanced statistics pair up?
In what is considered Kobe Bryant’s best season (02-03) his offensive rating was 105.5 and defensive rating was 108.1.
And what is considered LeBron’s best year (12-13) LeBron’s offensive rating was: 113.5 and defensive rating of 99.3. Kobe was a better defensive player, but LeBron was a better offensive player.
LeBron has 4 MVP’s and Kobe has 1.
LeBron has one more Finals MVP despite winning two less than Kobe.
Kobe only has two more all-NBA selections despite playing 6 more years, LeBron will surely pass him.
LeBron has better career averages in all of the major 5 statistical categories in the regular season and the playoffs. (Points, Assists, Rebounds, Steals, and Blocks per game).
LeBron tops him in field goal percentage and three point percentage while Kobe beats him in free throw percentage.
LeBron throughout his career has played consistently better basketball than Kobe, and by the end of his career LeBron should beat him in every career statistic.