The comparison between superstar NBA players and future Hall of Famers Kobe Bryant and LeBron James may never be able to be settled unanimously. Both of these living legends came out of high school and were universally recognized as the best players on the planet throughout the primes of their careers. There is a big advantage on James’ side that basketball fans often fail to realize when comparing the two players’ career accolades: James still has a long way to go with much more to accomplish as this is his 13th season in the NBA and he is still in his prime at 31 years old. This is opposed to Bryant who is in his 20th and final season on a laughable Los Angeles Lakers team.
Bryant will go down as the second greatest shooting guard of all time, deferring only to the greatest player of basketball history in Michael Jordan. It is undeniable what Bryant has accomplished thus far in his career, and certainly has the better resume as far as championships go, but James still has time to catch up in that department. Bryant will retire from the NBA with five championship rings and two Finals MVP’s. James already has two NBA championships and two Finals MVP’s to match Bryant, and who knows how many more championships James has in him. Maybe he can add one this year. Only time will tell.
As far as career honors and awards go, it is pretty even thus far, but James has the slight edge if you factor in the fact that he has at least six more quality seasons in him. James has already received four regular season league MVP honors to Bryant’s one MVP in 20 seasons. Bryant has the edge in All-NBA First Team selections with 11 to James’ nine First Team selection. The thing is that James has at least four more selections in the tank and any genuine NBA fan knows that. Bryant has two regular season scoring titles and James has just one. However, Bryant’s best quality of his game was his ability to shoot and score the basketball, not for getting others involved. LeBron’s game is a combination of creating offense for others as well as scoring at a high rate, not for his shooting. Their career statistics back up that statement. James has the better career numbers with averages of 27.2 points per game (ppg), seven assists and 7.2 rebounds per game in his career. Bryant has averages of 25.0 ppg, 4.7 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game.
Bryant is one of the most cold blooded assassins to ever step on the hardwood, he never backed down to anyone and has the killer mentality you need for when the pressure is highest. James is not known for his clutch shooting ever since he missed that shot against the Spurs in the 2012 NBA Finals and was bailed out by seasoned veteran Ray Allen, who hit a legendary corner three. Shockingly, since James has entered the league, he has hit one of the highest clutch field goal percentages — meaning in the final 24 seconds of regulation or overtime, a go-ahead or game tying shot in the playoffs, not regular season. In clutch field goal situations, Bryant is just 7-for-25 (28 percent) compared to James 7-for-16 (44 percent) on those shots. James’ 44 percent shooting in clutch field goal situations is good for the highest percentage in that situation since he entered the league back in 2003.
The two of them will both go down as top-10 players of all time. James is hands down the greatest small forward to every play the game, and Bryant is the second greatest shooting guard the NBA has ever seen. If both careers were to end today, it would be Bryant with the slight edge. Unfortunately for Bryant that is not the case. James has so much time to catch up and surpass Bryant’s career accomplishments and awards. James will be retired over the next eight seasons, but for now is still running loose and shattering NBA records.