Well, of course he was not kidding — Kobe’s unfailing belief in himself and his abilities is at his core. Like a character out of a Greek tragedy, that belief is both Kobe’s greatest strength and the cause of his downfalls.
But Kobe’s was correct in his belief that he could best LeBron in a game of one-one-one — he’s got the stats to back him up.
Look, if you built a robot, designed to replicate Michael Jordan’s intensity and scoring ability, combined with the frame of Hakeem Olajuwon and the defensive ability of your pick between Shane Battier and Bruce Bowen, and asked Kobe Bryant “Could you beat the robot one-on-one?”, he’s going to say yes. Quickly. That’s how he’s programmed. That’s what makes him who he is. It defines him as a human being, practically, philosophically, in all ways.
So when HoopsFix decided to ask Kobe a few months back who would win, you’re never going to guess how he answered. Take it away, Kobester!
In the crayon box, there should be a neutral color crayon called “Kobe thinks he can beat someone one-on-one.” Then you can color me with it.
Thing is, though, Kobe’s right. LeBron is a Magic Johnson type. He is more focused on the all-around game. He is better setting up his teammates. He is focused on the all-around game versus breaking down his opponent face up. Which is what would make a Heat-Lakers Finals so compelling in the unlikely event it were to occur (lots to happen between now and then.. you’re not buying this, are you?). It would be a stunning contrast in philosophic approach between the two biggest stars in the game, contrasted by their attitudes. Kobe is focused on individual greatness, being the best you can possibly be, even though he doesn’t care what you think about him. LeBron is focused on setting up his teammates and helping them succeed, even though he’s unarguably one of the most arrogant people on the planet. You know, outside of the whole “hype so high it would threaten to destroy the planet” thing, that would make the Finals pretty entertaining.