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Larry Bird shares why he would play with Kobe instead of LeBron if he wanted to win a championship

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The “Who’s better?” debate between LeBron James, the late great Kobe Bryant, or Michael Jordan continues to rage at irrelevant times, and it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Every NBA fan or sports analyst has their perspective regarding this specific topic, and it’s usually based on personal preferences rather than facts. It’s always refreshing to hear what other NBA legends have to say about this debate, and nobody is better to address it than Hall of Famer Larry Bird.

In an older interview with Bill Simmons, Bird said if he were to choose between players with whom to play, he would take Kobe Bryant over LeBron James–even though he thinks James “by far is the best player” in the NBA.

Bird’s Celtics won three NBA championships and lost in the Finals two other times, during an era when the league arguably had its best depth of outstanding teams.

Bird’s absolute priority on the basketball court was always winning. Given that, Bird picks the late great Kobe Bryant when asked to choose which NBA player he’d like to play with and have as a teammate. But in classic Bird fashion, he suggests Kobe would have to shoot less if the two were to be teammates, implying that Bird needs his shots during the game.

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"Well, probably Kobe, because of the fact that … well, of course, he wouldn't have been shooting as much as he does now … but his desire to win, his dedication, to always get better, uh, and he's just, he's just tough," Bird said. "He's just a tough cat.

Larry Bird

Even though Bird believes he would have more success and wins playing with Kobe, he admires everything LeBron does on the court and thinks he would enjoy playing alongside him. According to Bird, the main difference between the two was Kobe’s willingness to be better and come prepared at any given time.

"But, if you want to have fun like I did with Bill Walton, play with LeBron. It would have probably been more fun to play with LeBron, but if you want to win and win and win, it's Kobe. Not that LeBron's not a winner, just that [Kobe's] mindset is to go into every practice, every game, to get better."

Larry Bird

Some fans would say Larry disrespected LeBron with this statement somehow, but the reality is totally different. Larry has been so long around the league that he understands when someone has the same competitive mindset as he once had, and Kobe was that guy. On the other hand, LeBron never had the same killer mentality even though his dominance comes differently, and he showcased it numerous times throughout his career.


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