In the last couple of years, one of the most popular debates among NBA fans, primarily through social media, is whether LeBron James is a better player, then the late great Kobe Bryant. People have their preferences towards individual players, and these conversations often end up nowhere because of the lack of valid arguments and people's biased opinions. In one of his earlier interviews, former NBA player Gilbert Arenas gave an excellent comparison when asked which of these two legends was better in their prime years.
Arenas had the opportunity to play against both players in their prime years, and some of these battles were genuinely epic. During his time with the Washington Wizards, Arenas was almost unstoppable, able to drop 30 points against any team in the NBA. In some of his games against Kobe Bryant, they would go after each other on offense all night long, often scoring 70 or more points on a combined effort. Arenas had several great battles with LeBron as well because they were in the same conference, and a bit older fans remember their playoff series in 2006 that the Cleveland Cavaliers won in six games.
Arenas studied their games and saw a significant difference in their playing style, having the chance to play against both LeBron and Bryant several times. He noticed that the main difference between them is that Kobe is capable of going on a scoring tear on any given night. He was able to score 40 or more points multiple times in a row and overtake games if the Los Angeles Lakers fought for a win that game. LeBron, on the other hand, had a more balanced game. LeBron will involve his teammates more and can finish every game with a monster triple-double if that is what it takes to win.
"It's a tough question because Kobe is a killer. He is an assassin, but it depends on how you are starting your lineup. If you need somebody who will take over at any moment in the game, you are always going to Kobe. If you're trying to build from the beginning and you need an all-around player, you are going to LeBron. At the end of the day, it all depends on how you start your lineup. One is an assasin, period. One is a set up man. He's not going to give you 60,40,40,60 points, that's Kobe.
Despite having greater respect for both players, Arenas would take Kobe in his prime before LeBron. Arenas always respected Kobe's skill set because, in some way, was similar to his. Diplomatically, Arenas doesn't want to bash LeBron, because he knows what he brings to the table every single game and believes you can't go wrong with either of these players.
If you ask me in their prime, who is better, probably Kobe. All-around he is just a better player in the sense of skill work, knowledge. But it's hard to knock what LeBron does. LeBron is amazing. What he is good at, that's what he is. I wouldn't be mad at either of them, to be honest.
At the end of the day, stats and accomplishments when it comes to LeBron and Kobe don't mean a lot because they won multiple NBA championships alongside many other accolades. Their impact when playing the game was different only because of the difference in their playing style. They both achieved greatness and surpassed all the expectations that were set for both when they initially joined the NBA coming straight out of high-school. Measuring greatness is difficult, and it usually comes down to what type of basketball players people admire watching the most.