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Laker wins without Kobe do not make LeBron MVP

Feb 11, 2010, 12:03 PM EDT

Thumbnail image for nba_james1_250.jpgKobe Bryant has now missed three straight games due to his sprained ankle. Each game was decisive Lakers victory, complete with ball and player movement that have been all too rare this season. The Lakers have looked as good as they have all season.

For some, that is proof that LeBron James should be MVP.

The theory is that if a team is without its star player, and still plays well, then said player must not be very important to his team. So, if the Lakers are 3-0 without Kobe, is he that valuable to his team?

That’s some horrifically flawed logic. Teams often over perform without their stars (Bill Simmons called it the “Ewing Theory” for when the Knicks played over their head without the great center). Last year’s Rockets team played the eventual-champion Lakers tough without center Yao Ming. Where the Rockets a better team without the best center on the planet (when healthy)? No. Not even close. No, but they were scrappy and had some matchups that worked for them.

This happens all the time in sport, it proves nothing about the worth of the player. You can make a good case for LeBron as MVP without denigrating Kobe. Bryant’s fans could do the same thing. But for some reason this debate always devolves into insults and why one isn’t as good as the other.

Two different players. Two different games. It is possible to appreciate them both, to exalt them both. And to say one should be MVP without that being a slight to the other.

  1. Rich - Feb 12, 2010 at 10:02 AM

    I am going to keep it short and simple.
    Lebron age: 25
    Kobe age: 31
    Kobe has 6 more years on Lebron and he is still playing at a high level. He has fought through numerous injuries the past few years and our team is still first place. I highly doubt Lebron would be able to do what Kobe is doing. It’s hard to do what Kobe is doing at his age. Talk to me when Lebron is 31
    Lebron is awesome and I think he will be a force to reckon with for many years to come. I don’t think Kobe is MVP this year because he is dealing with a lot of other issues but there are many other players doing a great job.
    Has everyone forgot about Kevin Durant??????
    I am a Lakers fan but I would give the MVP if I had to vote to Kevin Durant

  2. bobdevo - Feb 12, 2010 at 10:10 AM

    Kurt, Kurt, Kurt . . . what a masterpiece of illogic. Sorry to correct you, but the talent of the Lakers without Kobe illustrates just exactly how good LeBron is. As Charles Barkley said this week: if you put LeBron on the Lakers instead of Kobe, they might NEVER lose.
    LeBron can make decent team mates good, and good team mates great. If LeBron ran the Lakers offense, every other Laker’s numbers would go up. If you put Kobe on the Cavs, every Cav would beg to be traded so they wouldn’t have to play with The Sociopath.

  3. bobdevo - Feb 12, 2010 at 10:12 AM

    Robery Horry has two more rings than Kobe – I suppose that makes him 1.5 times better. And there’s some guy named Russell who has eleven (11!) of the damn rings.

  4. Tman - Feb 12, 2010 at 10:27 AM

    King James – pass first mentality, like Magic Johnson
    Black Mamba – shoot first mentality, like Air Jordan

  5. Tman - Feb 12, 2010 at 10:30 AM

    LBJ is Magic/Pippen on steroids…

  6. JJ - Feb 12, 2010 at 10:45 AM

    So Kobe is the King??? How many rings does he have? 4? There are 24 players that have gotten MORE Rings than Kobe, including Steve Kerr and Ron Harper…. So yeah we can all talk when both LeBron and Kobe are retired about who is best ever. And guess what? LeBron might be in that conversation in 10 years, but Kobe is no where near the best ever in the NBA. Russell, Jordan, Jabbar, Havlicek…the list goes on. But there is no way Kobe makes that list. Without Gasol Artest Shaq and more, Kobe would not have won a title………LeBron still has time in front of him to make that happen.
    And talk about selfish…. Lebron came to the worst team in the NBA when he got drafted and took them to the Finals in 2007 and the best record in the NBA last two years…. Kobe? got drafted by Charlotte, refused to play there and went to an ESTABLISHED team in LA…. Who should get more CRED??? Cavs picked Vitaly Potapenko with the previous pick in Kobe’s draft. What if Cavs had drafted Kobe instead…. He still would have ran….

  7. Ray - Feb 12, 2010 at 11:05 AM

    3 rings came DUE to Shaq. Kobe pouted about how he didn’t need Shaq till they kicked Shaq out but Shaq left & immediately won a ring with DWade while Kobe struggled to win another until he got Gasol. So I think its a matter of having the right piece to the puzzle inwhich if Lebron was missing last season.

  8. Navvy - Feb 12, 2010 at 11:36 AM

    Lebron’s game is limited compared to KB. Mostly slash to the hoop. Not to knock his season its fantastic. I would say that he is the clear front-runner for the MVP thus far. But when you talk about better basketball play–hmmm.
    not even close
    Defense on ball
    Bron has no peers
    Kobe> Lebron
    Post game
    I like LeBron unlike some of you haters. There are parts of his game that need work. Kobe doesn’t slash as much which is where the ooh aah factor comes from. There is a point where athleticism won’t be an advantage, and that’s why you continue to improve. Wilt found that out going up against Russel. He’ll get there. Kobe is silky smooth on the court. There is a difference between the best and MVP.

  9. Brownsac - Feb 12, 2010 at 12:34 PM

    When comparing Kobe’s sills to Lebron’s, lets not leave out the ones that don’t prop up Kobe. Here is the real breakdown of their respective skills.
    jumpshooting- KOBE
    3 point shooting- LEBRON
    foulshooting- Kobe
    slashing- LEBRON
    postup- KOBE
    transition- LEBRON
    passing- LEBRON
    man to man defense- TIE (Lebron shuts people down at the end of games, and Kobe is overated in this department but I’ll call it a tie)
    help defense- LEBRON
    blocks- LEBRON
    steals- TIE
    playmaking- LEBRON
    makes teammates better- LEBRON
    All evidence (sills included) points to Lebron as the best player on the planet.
    People usually shoot long fadeaways because they have to…why would Lebron shoot lower percentage shots when he can get to the rim? Eventually Lebron will perfect a post game when he needs to. Michael didn’t start using it until his athleticism went, so until then enjoy the best player we’ve seen since Jordan; Lebron James.

  10. KAT - Feb 12, 2010 at 12:48 PM


  11. Tsunami - Feb 12, 2010 at 1:12 PM

    This is so ridiculous.
    I don’t know why we have this debate.
    This is a fan-debate. Who has more fans? Kobe or LeBron?
    The facts speak for themselves, LeBron is a much more complete player than Kobe. He does more for his team, his efficiency is insane despite his very high usage. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that in a vacuum, LeBron is a superior player. It shouldn’t take anything away from Kobe’s greatness that there is someone better. I don’t know why Kobe’s fans can’t just appreciate him for what he is and leave the “best” arguments alone. It’s really no competition anymore.
    LeBron owns head to head matchups, he plays better when they are on the same team (look up Team USA stats and a quote or two from Coach K where he says LeBron was their MVP), he’s statistically superior in every category except steals and FT% and has been for years. The biggest argument Kobe fans had for Kobe > LeBron the last few years was defense and shooting. Can’t say that anymore. LeBron is a superior defender and his TS% is world’s ahead of Kobe’s.
    Kurt is right, Laker wins without Kobe do not make LeBron MVP – LeBron makes LeBron MVP. And Laker wins without Kobe show that Kobe doesn’t get the most out of his teammates, and if he figures it out the Lakers have a great chance to repeat.

  12. LakerTal - Feb 12, 2010 at 1:15 PM

    The Cavs are the best team?? Where would they be in the standings with LeBron carrying them on his shoulders. The Lakers are proving they are the best team in the league by smoking their opponents without two of their starters.

  13. KAT - Feb 12, 2010 at 1:54 PM

    Lebron has superior numbers because he has to. Kobe doesn’t have to with the team he has around him but he is def capable of mathcing or surpasign LBJs numbers. Kobe is far more reliable and works consistently to perfect his game (Spending the summer with Hakeem Olajuwon to work on his post moves and mid range). When Lebron matures he will no doubt be great. The only question then will be, is LBJ sitting at the table with Charles B, Karl M, AI, and all the other great players with no rings or will he have a seat at the table with Jordan, Bryant, Magic, Bird etc…

  14. johnny - Feb 12, 2010 at 3:38 PM

    and lebron has the rings to prove how good he is, right? Damn crybaby couldn’t shake the hands of the team that beat him last year in the playoffs he’s a real MVP

  15. Dinakar - Feb 12, 2010 at 4:27 PM

    I am from India and doesn’t know much about BasketBall and it’s history. However I am a big fan of the sport and enjoy the plays of Kobe and Lebron alike. Lakers might be winning with out Kobe but the game is not the same with out him and it has easthetic value whenever Kobe has ball in his hand. Lebron is all about physique, strength and athletism. There is nothing much to chose between these two and they can literally win matches on their own against any team if they are in their zone.

  16. Edward, Los Angeles, CA - Feb 12, 2010 at 4:35 PM

    Rich, I’m a lifetime Laker fan and I agree with you that Durant should be considered in the MVP discussions. He is playing on a lottery team in the West.. and they’re 30-21 (currently #7 in the West, but #5 if they were in the East and maybe higher).

  17. HotRod - Feb 12, 2010 at 4:45 PM

    LBJ is MVP. It’s not even close and anyone that says otherwise doesn’t have a clue.
    I’ve got to address the ring thing. That’s not an argument until LBJ has been in the league as long as Kobe. When did Kobe get his first ring without Shaq? How old was MJ when he got his first? Not only will LBJ get his, but he will surpass nearly every record of Kobe’s and do it at a younger age.
    Let it be written. Let it be done.
    I can’t believe this is still up for discussion, maybe 2-3 seasons ago…

  18. Bill - Feb 12, 2010 at 5:24 PM

    You hit the nail on the head. Good reply.

  19. NickLA - Feb 12, 2010 at 5:30 PM

    Labron can have all the MVP he wants, all Kobe wants is rings, got 4, 3 more to top MJ and become the greatest MVP of all time. simple as that.

  20. Bill - Feb 12, 2010 at 5:36 PM

    Lets all stand on the side of the road and have a p contest. When we’re all done, it absolutely means nothing. NASH has two MVP and will never win a title. Remember, people who never play (fat writers) vote for the MVP. LaBron is the Most Narcissistic Person anywhere. No education, but he thinks of himself as Warren Buffet, NOT!

  21. Rick - Feb 12, 2010 at 8:04 PM

    This is what i’m getting from you laker fans. Kobe is better cuz of the rings and the mid-range jumper. And he should be mvp y? the mvp should be the playa w/ the better team and the most points and most assists and stastistically overall better playa. That Is King James. More points then Kobe. Even though he doesn’t attempt as much as Kobe, More assists then Kobe, even though Kobe has Pau,Odem,artest, and maybe Bynum. LBJ just makes subpar playas, like Hickson or West look good. And Kobe has never been able to win with out a big guy. Like when Shaq left. In 06 they were Garbage. then He got playas like Pau. I will give it to you that Kobe is more competitive then Lebron and wants it more. but lebron is still the overall better and most valuable player. If someone asked you who they were gonna build a team around? You would be retarded if you didnt say Lebron. He’s a PASSER and yet he has more points then Kobe. DUHHH. Its so obvious. ALL the experts say Lebron is better. AND BTW THE CAVS HAVE BEATEN THE LAKERS IN ALL OF THE GAMES THEYVE PLAYED TOGETHER this season. UHHH. also the only reason why the cavs lost to the magic is because we didn’t have a big strong guy to go to or to defend Dwight. What? were we gona use Illquaskas? the awkward white guy? Now LBJ has shaq, an old shag at that but still a defender. there is no doubt that the CAvs are gonna win it all.

  22. MAX LAYNE - Feb 12, 2010 at 9:19 PM

    Rick…..winning the two games in the regular season doesnt mean anything……Orlando won 3 of 4 in two years against the Lakeshow and we saw the beat down the Lakers handed them…Kobe has the killer instinct the buzzer beater edge BIGTIME.and is a better man on man defender even at his so called older age…..kobe is doing all this this season with a broken finger on his shooting hand and f–ked up finger on his other hand…Lebron is incredible and is definitely an MVP canidate but we’ll see when the year ends…..and this assist claim. in the past two or three years kobe has averaged 5 or 6 assists a game which is just under Lebrons average…and the cavs arent winning anything and he will leave at the end of this season mark my word

  23. Blahzay - Feb 13, 2010 at 8:37 PM

    The moment Lebron gets a ring all this bs is finished. Kobe is a champion and all time great. Lebron’s game is a bit better. Take your lame ring argument to the toilet and flush because Oscar Robertson only won once and I dare you to say Kobe ranks higher than the Big O. When LBJ gets his first your Kobe argument is void.

  24. Nick - Feb 13, 2010 at 11:44 PM

    I hate the ‘Kobe’ defense talk. He is perhaps the most overrated defender in history. He has terrific defensive instincts, but considering he only tries to play defense for an average of 5 minutes a game, it doesnt really matter, does it.
    He always makes first team all-star, but there are way better defenders who dont make that team, just b/c they dont have the big name and play in LA.
    Rondo, artest, battier and duncan are way better defenders, but they are 2nd team.
    Not like Lebron is a better defender, but he is a more complete offensive package, and he plays team basketball, which is a foreign concept in Kobe’s world. Statistics dont lie

  25. dave - Feb 14, 2010 at 3:56 PM

    You guys all make me sick. Everyone who says the MVP race isn’t even close are a bunch of retards. I’m so glad they leave the voting up to writers/coaches/etc instead of the lousy biased fans on here. Take Iverson’s voting into the all-star game for instance- a complete joke by the fans! Shoot, everyone is going to pick their favorite teams’ player to be MVP. I’m sure there’s a bunch of Clipper’s fans out there making a case for Chris Kaman to be the league MVP. If all of you freaks want to keep stroking Lebron or Kobe’s junk, go do it somewhere else.

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