ESPN: This month, I’ve realized two things are overrated: New Year’s resolutions and determining who’s better between Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.
We put so much emphasis on the start of a new year without thinking about just how random the date is. All it marks is a point on the Earth’s orbit, and if we’re not going to use in our everyday lives the days the Earth is closest to or farthest from the sun, one day is really no different from any other day. To us, nothing really changes on Jan. 1. Where is the start or finish on an ellipse? Someone (apparently, Julius Caesar) happened to pick Jan. 1, so that’s the date after which the waiting times for the treadmill at your health club increase thanks to all the extra people who resolved to lose weight. It’s arbitrary.
Maybe the paths of Kobe and LeBron are circular, not linear, so we’ll never really know who’s ahead. The common assumption was that LeBron was chasing Kobe, owner of three championship rings by the time LeBron reached the NBA Finals and the first between them to win an NBA Most Valuable Player award. But in the past couple of seasons, in the category that matters most — postseason accomplishments — LeBron has held the edge. LeBron was the first to take a team to the Finals on his own as the primary star. And LeBron’s team took three games from the Boston Celtics in last season’s playoffs, one more than Kobe’s team managed.
The data at 82games.com suggest LeBron is better in the clutch, but why is it so much easier to call up the litany of Kobe’s late-game heroics?