Posted January 17, 2013

Kobe Bryant thinks he could beat LeBron James one-on-one, ‘no question’

Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Rob Mahoney
lebron-james-kobe-bryant

Kobe Bryant would give up size to LeBron James, but insists he could win a one-on-one matchup. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

By Rob Mahoney

It’s around this time every year that attentions naturally start to drift away from the slow development of the NBA season and toward more hypothetical matters. Some fiddle with the trade machine. Others have abstract arguments about this player or that, divorced from the context of a complete game and narrowed to a hyper-specific degree. Who is the best pure shooter? Who is the best clutch scorer? These are the questions that pass the time in the lull just before the trade deadline.

ESPN.com’s Chris Palmer brought one such hypothetical to Kobe Bryant for a response:

[Palmer]: You versus LeBron? Who wins?

[Bryant]: Me. No question. As far as one-on-one, I’m the best to ever do it.

[Palmer]: Damn. That’s pretty confident.

[Bryant]: LeBron is a terrific all-around, five-on-five basketball player who’s an all-time great. But I’d get him.

Ah, the classic one-on-one game that will never happen. We’ve been down this road with Kobe v. Jordan and so many others, and even this particular pairing has likely been publicly entertained at some point in time. That Bryant — who gives up a listed two inches and 40 pounds — would be so confident is as foolish as it is unsurprising. We shouldn’t expect anything less from Bryant, but in this purely hypothetical scenario I think there’s plenty of doubt about the winner. James isn’t just a great team player, after all, but an elite defender, an imposing physical presence and an improved shooter. The confidence is expected, but hardly indicative of the actual matchup of these two players.

Interestingly, Bryant seemed a bit less sure of his ability to beat the league’s second-best player behind James:

[Palmer]: Who could get you?

[Bryant]: Kevin Durant is the guy that would give me the most trouble. With his length and ability to use the dribble, he’d be tough.

Take from that what you will. In the same interview, Bryant also claims to have never lost a game of one-on-one and hints with a wink that he sparked Tracy McGrady’s back spasms with a one-on-one beatdown. All classic Kobe stuff that’s worth a read as further character study on one of the most fascinating people to ever come through the league.

35 comments
Yankee0359
Yankee0359

Since MJ was brought up in this column and is no longer playing, I feel I can bring up another person who's no longer plays and not alive (sad to say)  I'm sure we all agree there have been many great players throughout the NBA over the years.  But it pisses me off that no one ever brings up this person - his name - WILT CHAMBERLAIN. I've been watching the NBA for over 50 years and I haven't seen anyone who could ever beat him 1-1.  Short memory Kobe has.  Kobe, you would have had to take "every shot" from 3 point range - %'s not with you here.  Now you have to stop him inside (in your dreams).  And how Kobe would you defend Wilt?  So Kobe, there / here is your 1st 1-1 loss.  And sorry MJ and all you so called Sports Writers (SI/ESPN), Wilt was the best.  The basketball world has yet to see anything like him - then, now, or ever.

alxnick
alxnick

KOBE has FORGOTTEN that DEFENSE will have an effect on the outcome. Kobe cannot handle LeBron's power, size advantage. KOBE's jumpshot is the best offensive weapon in this match, but he CAN'T consistently POST the BIGGER and STRONGER 1st team DEFENDER. LeBron will DEFEND Kobe very well where I dont know how KOBE will stop a HOT LEBRON since he CANNOT stop LeBron once he gets into the lane with some STEAM.  I think in other years KOBE would have won but this years  LeBron can a good SHOOTING touch.  

BenSmith
BenSmith

One of the most fascinating people to ever come through the league, or one of the most arrogant? Bryant would have possessed plenty of trouble with Jordan, who was far more explosive, and any number of more explosive athletes. 

Unbiased
Unbiased

Kobe just sounds dumb on this one...I hope he's joking, he can't be that delirious...

prokks
prokks

Nah lebron guarded you on the closing minutes of your game against the heat and you struggled to shoot the ball.

 

SukeMadiq
SukeMadiq

1 on 1 is the only game Kobe can beat anybody at these days.   The ball hog makes his team worse.

marsof
marsof

not a kobe fan. but i gotta say this. most men think they are god. this man kobe in the nba just happens to be right. i hate this dude but there is no way you can compare anyone else besides jordan to him. wade ur awesome, but u think ur old ...no excuses

Bakabez
Bakabez

Kobi time is up, he is just winding up his career, the best player right now is Lebron james, he is the one who is breaking all kobi's previous record and he is doing it in a fashion way "triple double threat"

If Lebron takes kobi seriously he can embarrass him at his own building at staple centre, there is no way banged up kobi can compete one on one with a freaking nature of lebron james.

Kobi is a scorer and his aim is to surpass Kareem Abduljabar as the leading scorer of all time, Lebron has a team mentality, unselfish, can guard any best player in the league and does it all on the court and that why he is three times MVP compared to showtime kobi with one mvp.

In terms of rings, kobi had shaq while lebron had mo williams and playing on a very small market compared to LA, however lebron is the main contributor to the ring he earned + final mvp whereby kobi did not get final mvp during shaq era.

Go lebron kick kobi's ass....

 

 

 

Yeah I Said It So What?
Yeah I Said It So What?

Kobe would beat Lebron just like the 2012 Olympic team would beat the 1992 Dream Team...

 

Yeah, right@

KalEl
KalEl

Ya right! In your dreams Kobe! Coming from a guy who's scared to take charges, LeBron can just run over you! You'll just end up complaining of no calls like always.

adam.wolf
adam.wolf

@alxnickprime vs prime kobe wins hands down though  you forget kobe was an elite one on one defender in particular back in the day and his array of moves quickness footwork and his ability to hit tough shots would come into play  because lebron gets alot of dunk and layups with his speed in open court  he would not have that in a one on one game. Kobe is the best tough shot maker ever and the most complete scorer ever in terms of all around fundamentals including long range mid range floaters hook shots step througs mid post low post jab steps etc he is like the definition of the ultimate one on one player   even though he would at times take extremely questionable shots with guys all over him that is a reason why he is so high regarded  81 points? 62 points in three quarters vs mavs outscoring their ENTIRE team? 4 straight 50 point games? thats crazy! lebron is clearly just the better teammate in terms of who you would want to play with because of three guys are on him there is no way he is shooting the ball  he will find the open guy different styles of complete basketball world dominance

Arque Gray
Arque Gray

Lebron has never been able to guard Kobe or Carmello. James is not the basketball god & everyone needs to stop kissing his ass. Everyone one brags on how good he is. His game comes easy with 2, sorry I mean 3 future hall of famers playing with him. How good would Kobe be with Bosh, Wade and Ray Allen. When Kobe won his rings all he had was Shaq.

EricCallahan
EricCallahan

 @alxnick The media hype machine strikes again. 1) Check Kobe's defensive pedigree. 9 first team all defense, (last one in2011 for all that will say that it was when he was younger), and 3 second team in, (including last year), and you think he has forgotten the importance of defense?. And his specialty is on the ball defense not help defense. He is every bit the elite defender Lebron is. 2) Kobe's post game is one of the best in the league while Lebron went to work with Hakeem over the summer to develop one...ie he doesn't have a strong post up game. 3)Kobe is a way better one on one scorer. Deep, mid range, post...Lebron defending Kobe well is laughable. $ you cant get up a good head of steam in a 1 on1...its half court, generally from 3 pt range in.

Arque Gray
Arque Gray

Please!!!!!!!! Lebron didn't guard him. They double teamed him. Something that rarely ever happens to Lebron because he has Wade, Bosh & Allen on his team.

Arque Gray
Arque Gray

"Look Kobe" said Lebron, I got a ring. "1 ring? How cute" replied the Black Mamba.

Yankee0359
Yankee0359

 @SukeMadiq

 Agree.  And unlike Jordon, he does not make his surrounding cast better.  One of the most selfish player's I've ever seen...

Yankee0359
Yankee0359

 @marsof

 And you're going to tell me he could have beaten Wilt 1-1???

adam.wolf
adam.wolf

@Bakabez dude spell kobe right and realize that you dont just appear in the finals shaq would have never made the finals without kobe ridiculous career in the western conference finals with 50 point dominating performances amazing feeds and big time clutch plays  and even once in the finals who took over and one two more with a completely different crew as the main guy?

Arque Gray
Arque Gray

What records of Kobe Bryant have Lebron broken??????????? Don't worry I'll wait. Stop watching highlights and watch the games.

EricCallahan
EricCallahan

 @Bakabez And yet selfish Kobe has 5rings, 2 without Shaq where he was the MVP TWICE. He wanted to do it with out Shaq where as Lebron ran to Wade to get one, (with Bosh). Being able to stick any star and being able to do it well is two different things. Durant kills him, Melo kills him, he cannot guard Howard or duncan so please ...wipe the drool and but the twig and berries back in his shorts

EricCallahan
EricCallahan

 @KalEl You guys have never played basketball at all have you? when the hell have you seen a fast break in a half court game of one on one?

70rancho
70rancho

@Arque Gray lebron a the best !!!!!

mantree
mantree

 @Arque Gray all he had was shaq , did u ever watch shaq play. i could name u 20 sg u could substitute kobe with and the lakers would still have won!

achen07
achen07

 @EricCallahan  @alxnick You're an absolute fool if you still think Kobe is an elite defender.  All defensive metrics (and the Lakers' overall defensive struggles) have shown that he is a below-average defender.  Only Tony Allen, Andre Igoudala, and a few other guards have as good of a perimeter D as Lebron and none of them have the size and post defense that he has.

Yankee0359
Yankee0359

 @EricCallahan  @alxnick

 Keeping this strictly between Kobe vs Lebron, Kobe would wear him out. 10 out of 10 games Kobe wins each by an average score of 21-16.

70rancho
70rancho

@Arque Gray lebron shut his asss down woooooo!!!!

achen07
achen07

 @Arque Gray Statistically speaking Lebron James' career averages are far superior to Kobe's in every aspect (FG%, PPG, RPG, APG, even 3PT%, FTM, FTA, fewer TOs, BPG).  Pretty much the only thing Kobe has been better at is FT%.  Lebron is obviously younger than Kobe but he's on pace to break all of Kobe's records pretty easily.

70rancho
70rancho

@Arque Gray youngest to get to 20 thousand, and to get 15 thousand points and he beat him by about 2 years and he is just a way better rebounder and passer so expect more records to break

mantree
mantree

 @EricCallahan  @Bakabez Kobe  had the lowest shooting percentage (97 missed shots out of 163) in NBA history for a Finals MVP. (ouch)

JorgeCandelario
JorgeCandelario

 @EricCallahan  @KalEl

 ur an idiot kobe is a fossil hes running his mouth cause his legs cant anymore lebron would rape kobe on one on one u imbecil

adam.wolf
adam.wolf

@mantree @EricCallahan @Bakabez and lebron averaged 17 points per game and pissed his pants in the fourth quarter of the 2011 nba finals vs the mavs that series dwyane wade statistically had one of the best series ever scoring and was easily the best player and lebron couldnt even support that performance  lebron shot 35 percent on 22 points per game in his first finals by the way

imutau
imutau

 @JorgeCandelario  @EricCallahan  @KalEl Yeah a fossil that just happens to be in the top three for the scoring title this year LeBron being in (4th) and recently had two 11 assist games as a "Shooting" Guard.  Also the pne most likely to pass WIlt's scoring record (4th) and possibly MJ's (3rd) if he can play at this level for another season.

 

A side from that we are talking 1-on-1. Kobe is old school like Bird and MJ. Not one of the kinder friendlier NBA players you have now a days. He would humiliate him just with the trash talk without even having to make a shot. 1-on-1 is as much a mental thing as a physical thing and Kobe would break down LeBron mentally and make him his woman.

 

People always seem to forget how before Miami's second season Cleveland has made playoff showings and during those times "King" James just couldn't get it done. If he made his team SOOO much better why did he have to leave to win a championship? Because he needed the pressure of being the main sole scorer. He more or less admitted this in the press. Kobe? Totally fine with the role.  

 

LeBron is great no doubt. Probably top 10 greatest of all time if he can finish his career at a high level. But I just don't think he could take Kobe at 1-on-1.