MANILA, Philippines—Almost everywhere around the world, the raging basketball debate that rivals boxing’s Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather issue is centered on one question.
Who’s better, Kobe Bryant or LeBron James?
Surprisingly, among visiting NBA Legends here, the answer is unanimous.
“Kobe is still the best in the game today,” five-time All NBA Team member Chris Webber told Inquirer Sports Tuesday during the 2010 NBA Asia Challenge Press conference at the Dusit Thani Hotel in Makati.
“He (Bryant) showed that by winning a championship, he showed that by leading his team,” Webber added.
Gary Payton, the 1996 NBA Defensive Player of the Year award and nine-time All NBA Defensive Team member also picked five-time NBA champion Bryant as the best defensive player in the league today.
“He’s the guy who’s like me. I want to go out and guard the best player on the other like me. And that’s what he does,” said the 2006 NBA champion Payton, who named Hall-of-Famer John Stockton as the toughest defensive assignment he had throughout his 17-year tenure with the NBA.
“When you see a basketball player who does that, it tells you something that he is now deciding that he wants to be one of the best players and Kobe does that every night,” added Payton, who won his only ring with the Miami Heat in 2006.
However, Webber, the 1994 NBA Rookie of the Year, also made a case for James in terms of the sheer out-of-this-world talent that James possesses.
“LeBron is from outer space, he’s like a Martian and he’s not real,” uttered Webber, who also said that Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett was his favorite player to go up against during his NBA days.
The 6-foot-10 Webber couldn’t help but to be astonished at James’ skill set to go along with his burly physique.
“He’s bigger than an American football player and he’s faster than a track sprinter,” said Webber in awe.
With multiple individual accolades across their household names, what breaks the two apart are championships. Bryant has already five titles while James still seeks for his first.
“Kobe Bryant is the best player but LeBron is the best all around player in the game,” said Mitch Richmond, who apart from his glorious NBA career with numerous All-star appearances and an NBA title also suited up for Team USA twice back in 1988 and 1996.
The six-foot-five shooter won his lone NBA championship with the Los Angeles Lakers alongside Kobe Bryant back in 2002 as part of a three-peat.
Another former NBA marksman, Glen Rice, also a teammate of Bryant back in 2000 with the Lakers, conceded that James is an outstanding player.
But until LeBron wins one, Rice, the three-time NBA All-Star and 1995 NBA Three-point Shootout champion, would pick Bryant.
Webber, though, believes that it will only be a matter of time—and championships—before James, who joined forces with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to form a super team with the Miami Heat, will go down as the best that ever laced up his kicks.
“I think Kobe is still the best but LeBron will take over very soon,” Webber said
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