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Michael Jordan proclaims that Kobe Bryant is better than LeBron James

July 12, 2010 | 12:18 pm

All it took was a one-word answer for Michael Jordan to settle the Kobe Bryant-LeBron James debate. When he was asked at a basketball camp who the better basketball player was, Jordan simply said, "Kobe."

You can counter that Jordan's talent evaluations leave a lot to be desired. He did draft Kwame Brown, you know. But his reputation as the game's all-time greatest player speaks for itself. This is hardly a new revelation. When James won his second best most valuable player award, I presented in detail why Bryant is still the NBA's best player. But as James continues to be rightfully derided for how he went about making "The Decision," The Times' Mark Heisler correctly observes that Bryant's reputation has improved as James' has fallen.

And to think, the storyline appeared much different only one season ago. Former Lakers General Manager Jerry West, who acquired Bryant out of Lower Merion (Pa.) High in 1996 in trade to Charlotte for Vlade Divac, and has remained one of his most ardent supporters, argued that James surpassed Bryant as a basketball player. When Cleveland made the Finals and the Lakers endured another first-round exit in 2007, the conventional thinking said James had proved he could lead a team while Bryant hadn't. In reality, neither person has really changed. James' one-hour special served as the latest example that he has looked out for No. 1 with little regard for anyone else. Bryant's tempered attitude has coincided with the Lakers adding more talent around him and winning championships.

But as of right now, Bryant is prevailing in the court of public opinion, a notion that's further cemented with Jordan's endorsement.

-- Mark Medina

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