Ron Artest’s top two in the NBA: Kobe, Durant… and no LeBron

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There are guys whose names consistently come up in the “best in the game” discussion — Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and now Kevin Durant.

So, if you ask somebody — anybody — to list them, one of them has to come in third.

If you ask Ron Artest (like ESPNLosAngeles.com did), he says Kobe is tops and Durant is second.

“Kobe’s got five rings, six game winners [last season], 23-straight points in [Game 5 of the Finals] off mostly jump shots,” Artest elaborated. “[He’s] the biggest shot maker, big shot maker. So, that said, Durant’s the second best player in the NBA.”

“He’s the second best player in the NBA,” Artest said of Durant, ranking the youngest scoring champion in league history behind only teammate Kobe Bryant.

So what about LeBron?

“I only count to two,” Artest said. “I’ve been out of school 15 years, so I only count to two.”

Let the Lakers/Heat smack talk begin. Only 70 days until Christmas.

Certainly you can make the case that James belongs in the top of any list of the three, that he is better than Kobe now and has accomplished more than Durant in the league.I could make a solid argument for virtually any order of the three (maybe not Durant on top of the list, that one would have holes). Is LeBron getting as much out of his physical gifts as Kobe and Durant?

But really, is this some dramatic insult? I know, we need to start hyping Lakers/Heat now so sure it is. Only 70 days of hype left…