Is Kobe close to surpassing Michael Jordan, or Lebron?
In the last three seasons or so has James really established himself as the top player in the game, confirming it with a magnificent last season during which he earned every conceivable accolade, but above all a championship.
But it is a single title, one, which makes such lofty prospecting of Lebron James confusing when he has not even bypassed Kobe Bryant.
To this point in his brilliant career, James trails Bryant in game and accomplishment, so how is it that he is the next best thing to Jordan?
This is not to minimize the remarkable skill set James has displayed. He, indeed, has played better than anyone in the world in the past two seasons, improving his game exponentially each summer. But before he can pass Jordan he has to pass Bryant, and he has not.
Just three years ago, all the talk was how Bryant was the game’s best player. At the same time, many pundits wondered aloud if he would be Jordan’s equal if he matched him with six championships. So, here’s the confusing part: If observers were prepared to begin the debate about Bryant’s place in relation to Jordan only after he won six rings, why now are they giving James so much love after just one title?
Not only that, but many of the same high-profile people leading the discussion of James passing Jordan — Magic Johnson, Charles Barkley, Phil Jackson — are the same people who ridiculed James for bolting Cleveland to team with superstar Dwyane Wade and all-star Chris Bosh. Remember that?
James had a season for the ages — league MVP, NBA championship, NBA Finals MVP and Olympic gold medal. But that one season does not push him pass Bryant’s five NBA championships. How can it? Why is the criteria for James’s place in history different from Bryant’s, especially when Bryant has been a remarkable player in every facet of the game, including winning?
As a winner? Bryant has five championships, James one. That criteria cannot be underplayed. In a very real way, James has to surpass Magic Johnson before he can catch up to Kobe Bryant before any serious discussion can begin about surpassing Michael Jordan.
So tell me who do you think, is James or Bryant or neither one?