November 01, 2011
Kobe Bryant(notes) is a five-time champion, current superstar, and one of the best basketball players to ever suit up in an NBA uniform. He's also 33 years old, which in NBA terms means that he's on the downside of his career. Kobe's still one of the best players in the league, but he's not the overwhelming force he once was. In truth, he's been bypassed by players like LeBron James(notes) and Dwyane Wade(notes) when it comes to individual effect on the game.
One-on-one contests aren't the same as five-on-five NBA games, though, so it's not crazy to imagine if Kobe could beat LeBron in that setting. In fact, the Los Angeles Times put that question to several NBA stars and players, including Kevin Durant(notes), John Wall(notes) and Trevor Ariza(notes). Answers were mixed, but Durant, the only player who seems like a legitimate challenger to either, chose Kobe. You can watch all the answers above.
Really, it's hard to know which player would have the best shot to win, in part because we've never seen them in a remotely similar situation during their primes. What's interesting about these answers isn't just the opinions, but the respect still afforded to Bryant even when only the most dogmatic Lakers fans would claim he's still the best player in the league. He may not be the top dog, but he still commands the most respect. As well he should.
(via Larry Brown Sports)