It all started with Michael Jordan claiming yesterday that Kobe Bryant was a better player than LeBron James simply because he had more rings.
James at first shook it off, but clearly he's been thinking it over enough to realize that by Michael Jordan's own logic, Michael Jordan would only be tied as the eighth best basketball player of all time.
"Five beats one every time I look at it," Jordan said yesterday when asked whether Kobe or LeBron was better. "And not that (James) won't get five. He may get more than that, but five is bigger than one."
LeBron originally took a "It doesn't matter to me" stance, but obviously has thought about it a bit more.
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"He said he would take Kobe over me because ... five rings are better than one and last time he checked five is better than one,'' James said according to Fox Sport's Christ Tomasson. "But that's his own opinion. At the end of the days, rings doesn't always define somebody's career. If that's the case, then I would sit up here and say, I would take Russell over Jordan. But I wouldn't. I wouldn't take Russell over Jordan. Russell has 11 rings, Jordan has six. Would I take Robert Horry (who has seven) over Kobe? I wouldn't do that. It's your personal opinion. Rings does not define somebody's career ... Charles Barkley doesn't have one ring ... Patrick Ewing is one of the greatest of all time (and doesn't have one). Reggie Miller is one of the greatest of all time (and doesn't have one). Sometimes it's the situation you're in, it's the team you're in. And it's about time as well. I don't play the game and try to define who I am over what guys say or what they feel about me. It doesn't matter to me, I go out and I play for my family, I play for my coaching staff.''
LeBron makes a good point. This focus on individual players on their ring count tends to ignore the fact that basketball is a team game. Would Jordan have six if he didn't have help from Scottie Pippen? Would Kobe have five without Shaq? Would Robert Horry have seven without the actual star players on all the basektball teams he played on?
LeBron certainly outranks Kobe in some measurable individual matters. LeBron has three MVPs (and may well be on his way to a fourth). Kobe just has one. LeBron is also currently on an NBA record breaking streak. No one else in the league's entire history has gone six games in a row scoring at least 30 points while shooting 60 percent from the floor as LeBron just did. Not Kobe. Not even Jordan.