Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 10/19/14
In the NBA and, really, any professional league, money doesn’t talk when it comes to greatness, and championships create the chatter. That’s why, for Michael Jordan — the best player in NBA history — Kobe Bryant gets the nod over LeBron James. In an interview on NBA TV,  Jordan was asked whether he would favor James or Bryant. His selection is No. 24′s  five championships over No. 6′s only title. “Five beats one every time I look at it,” Jordan said. “And that [James] won’t get five. He may get more than that, but five is bigger than one.” While the former Bulls star’s math is precise, the current Miami Heat star does not receive the credit he should be getting. In Thursday night’s 110-100 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder, James scored 39 points. But the big news was that the game marked the end of his impressive record-setting streak of high scoring and efficiency. Until that point, James had six straight games of scoring at least 30 points and shooting 60 percent from the field — something that has never been done before in the NBA. Thursday night’s performance isn’t the argument — it is just an example of what No. 6 has displayed throughout his nine-year campaign in the NBA. James, who turned 28 in December, still has a lot of miles left to catch up to Kobe’s five championships. Prior to his championship in 2012, James had his back against the wall as he turned away from his native land for South Beach. With the Cleveland Cavaliers, general manager Danny Ferry reeled in players such as Antawn Jamison, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Shaquille O’Neal, but to be a champion, there must be a complete team. The Cleveland Cavaliers were only equipped with James and complimentary pieces, which ultimately led him to join Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Pat Riley in Miami. Currently, the 28-year-old James is averaging  27. 3 points (third in NBA), 8.2 rebounds, and 6.9 assists in 38.5 minutes per game. In the past, he has been right around those numbers, but the pieces that Riley has added are substantial. Whether or not James can lead the Heat to “not four, not five, not six, but seven titles” remains to be seen, but at the steady rate at which the all-around athlete is pursuing the goal, all signs look to be a bright flame in the fire. Bryant has spent his Lakers days with many talented figures around him, including 15-time NBA All-Star O’Neal, three-time All-Star Glen Rice and buzzer-beater phenomenon Robert Horry. Recently, he sits next to many intriguing players in 39-year-old point guard Steve Nash and one of NBA’s top centers in Dwight Howard. But Bryant’s 26.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.6 assists are all LaLa Land has to show for that setup. Jordan does present an accurate case, but in today’s NBA, Bryant and James have shifted roles. The Lakers great is declining in Los Angeles in the same way that James failed to reach the top in Cleveland, and James finds himself with an immense future in front of him, and the tools to show why he could be called the best.
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