Not that we needed further confirmation of Kobe Bryant’s place in NBA history but Larry Bird has become the latest all-time great to confirm what we already knew.
Larry Legend sat down with Laker hater extraordinaire Bill Simmons for a little chat. During the course of the conversation the inevitable Kobe or LeBron debate came up. Simmons asked Bird who he’d rather ball with and his answer made an interesting comparison between the two talents.
“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. He’s just a tough cat. “
Simmons was shocked by Bird’s choice but I’m sure that’s only because Bill’s purple and gold phobia runs much deeper than Larry’s.
Now what Bird had to say about Kobe was nothing noteworthy. Most every NBA legend has in some way supported Kobe over LeBron. Last year it was His Airness himself who told a group of youngsters that he’s taking Mamba over the self-proclaimed King any day of the week.
What was a bit surprising was what Bird had to say of playing with LeBron.
“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.”
To be fair Bird did call James the best player in the game. However, if you ask the likes of Herm Edwards what the game is all about, then you can read between the lines just who the legends revere currently.
Without getting too carried away with one person’s opinion, even if that opinion screams louder than Skip Bayless at Tim Tebow’s birthday party, it is very revealing how those that have played the game at a high level view Bryant and James. Clearly Kobe is seen as a pro’s pro while James comes across as a spectacular talent yet lacks the drive to be a champion.
While James is still young in age, he is a vet in the game of basketball. At what point will opinions of James change if ever? His shortcomings in big moments are impossible to ignore.
Being a great talent is not in anyway tied to be a great player. Many have been incapable of separating the two ideals. Perhaps we’ll have a much different discussion years from now. Until then this topic should be closed but will inevitably continue.