ESPN Roundtable: Kobe v LeBron

The hype machine is in full effect as former and current “next Michael Jordan”s get set to meet up in Cleveland tonight. ESPN polled it’s group of NBA scribes (Henry Abbott, J.A. Adande, Chris Broussard, Ric Bucher, John Hollinger, Chris Sheridan, & Marc Stein) on 5 questions relating to the Mamba & LBJ.

The piece is a fascinating look at how Kobe is viewed from a national perspective as opposed to how we that see (and cheer for) him on a daily basis view him.

Question 1: Fifteen seconds left, down by 2. Who do you want with the ball?
Kobe takes this one in a landslide. The main factors sited are Kobe’s experience with such shots in big games, his ability to make the impossible shot, a propensity to get his shot from anywhere, and his killer instinct.

Bucher makes an interesting point by quoting Stephen Jackson when he said that Kobe has no tendencies. Adande brushed the dust off this classic moment from the 2004 playoffs.

Question 2: Who’s the better leader?

This one gets a little tricky, as Lakers fans could have imagined after the summer of discontent. Neither guy exemplifies a true leader, but it can be argued that Kobe’s supporting cast is better than James’ and yet LeBron has never made any negative public statements about anyone. While much has changed since last year’s exit interview and today, what’s happened has happened. LeBron by default is the consensus.

Question 3: What is the key difference between them?
Plain and simple–Size & Body. Hollinger put it like this, “Kobe looks like an NBA shooting guard; LeBron looks like an NFL defensive lineman.” That pretty much nails it. Kobe likes to play on the perimeter while LeBron takes it to the rack at every opportunity.

Kobe’s killer instinct (“On the basketball court, it’s better to be coldhearted”, says J.A.), experience, and shooting ability are also mentioned.

Question 4: Choose one: Kobe’s previous 10 years, or LeBron’s next 10 years?
The unknown versus the results. The eternal debate among GMs worldwide. Do you take LeBron’s massive upside (which already includes an NBA finals appearance) or Kobe’s three rings and extraordinary play over the past decade. Final tally: Split Decision.

Question 5: Who is the better player now? Is he the greatest player in the NBA now?
Kobe’s the better player, but LeBron is playing better right now. Tim Duncan gets some love for best player out there.

Read the whole piece and form your own conclusions.