Thanks to LeBron James' epic buzzer-beater on Friday and Kobe Bryant's follow-up 41 on Saturday, the Kobe-Bron debate is raging hotter than ever.
So how do we settle it?
Until they meet in the NBA Finals (an assumption that Dwight Howard says is disrespectful to his team), it's a matter of opinion. That's where we come in.
For a fresh look at 23 versus 24, we've devised 25 categories for LeBron and Kobe to compete in. For each category, we've asked a "best-of-7" group of experts to weigh in.
HA: Henry Abbott
JA: J.A. Adande
CB: Chris Broussard
JH: Jemele Hill
SJ: Scoop Jackson
JR: Jalen Rose
CS: Chris Sheridan
So until we can get them together in the Octagon, on the track or in the NBA Finals, here is the next-best thing:
Who has better nicknames?
"Black Mamba" is better than both "King James" and "The Chosen One," but Kobe's not nearly as identifiable by his nicknames as LeBron is. Plus, LeBron's nicknames have more commercial appeal than Kobe's, kind of like how "Air Jordan" fared versus "The Human Highlight Film." (Broussard)
Who would win a spelling bee?
Kobe speaks multiple languages, so I'm thinking spelling is like breathing for him. (Hill)
In Italian, Kobe. In Mandarin, LeBron. (Sheridan)
Who makes better commercials?
LeBron. If Kobe and Bron are at a club, Kobe is probably up in the VIP section looking untouchable, while Bron is probably on the dance floor pop-locking. Bron never takes himself seriously, but you get the feeling human contact irritates Kobe. (Hill)
Who will have the more interesting life after basketball?
LeBron has so many other interests and has such an outgoing personality. He's so business-savvy that, unlike many other superstars, he'll truly distinguish himself away from the court, kind of how Magic Johnson has done. (Broussard)
From what I can gather, LeBron relishes the public spotlight a bit more than Kobe, and he shows his human side far more often than Kobe. Both are wittier than one might imagine, but LeBron's wit is more creative. That kind of stuff matters when you are in your 40s. (Sheridan)
WORLD'S GREATEST ATHLETE?
Who would win a 100-meter race?
LeBron, because of the length of his stride -- it's what makes him all the more dangerous and effective when he uses his first step to get past his initial defender and explode to the basket. In the 100 meters, that first stride would have Kobe eating mud for the final 90 yards. (Sheridan)
LeBron would, I guess, although I'm so unsure about it that I think we really should stage this race. (Abbott)
Who would win in the MMA Octagon?
Neither guy is a fighter. Kobe certainly has the heart and confidence of a fighter, but I remember both Chris Childs and Reggie Miller getting the best of him. LeBron is not exactly Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, either, but I give him the edge solely because of his 60-pound weight advantage. (Broussard)
In terms of physicality, it's not even fair. LeBron should kill Kobe. But I don't think LeBron wants to kill Kobe. Can't say for sure that Kobe wouldn't be able to summon his inner assassin. (Abbott)
Who would be the better football player?
Kobe. For proof, see video of Bron versus that NBA ref. (Rose)
High school years: Lower Merion Kobe or St. Vincent-St. Mary LeBron?
LeBron took a nonprep high school on a national schedule, began his senior season ranked No. 23 in the nation and went undefeated. LeBron missed two games, yet his school still finished as the No. 1 team in the country. Nuff? (Jackson)
Who has had the greater career so far?
Kobe, because of the three titles. LeBron has had the better individual career, but rings talk, so Kobe has had the better career overall. (Broussard)
Yes, the three rings help, and playing alongside Shaq hurts Kobe as much as not playing with another superstar hurts LBJ in this category. But at this point in their careers, Kobe has done things that we may never see again (81 points versus Toronto, 62 versus Dallas, 61 in MSG, etc.). Plus, that last-second shot LeBron hit to win Game 2 on Friday? KB does that in his sleep. (Jackson)
Who will finish with the greater career?
That is a really, really tough one, and you have to factor in what they'll be remembered for off the court as well as on the court. Shaq helped give Kobe his current 3-0 lead in titles, but LBJ has plenty of time to catch up. I believe he will. (Sheridan)
Who has had the greatest dunks?
Kobe has had many legendary dunks (the preseason one in Las Vegas, the one over Steve Nash, etc.), but LeBron had one during practice in his rookie season that those who were witnesses say was one of the greatest of all time. Only on the basis that I've heard the testimonies of that dunk do I give LBJ the U2 (The Edge) on this one. (Jackson)
Who will finish with more MVP trophies?
Kobe's best years have been played, and unfortunately, he was hurt in the MVP race by those years he spent with Shaq. LeBron likely will never play with another player who is as dominant as he is, and I won't be surprised if he has a couple of years when he seriously flirts with averaging a triple-double. (Hill)
Who is a truer heir to Michael Jordan?
From a beyond-basketball, marketing and public acceptance and carrying-the-league perspective, LeBron has had to hold down that responsibility. But on a pure basketball level, Kobe has been Jordan's reincarnation to the point that it's scary. (Jackson)
Whom would you rather have on your pickup team?
Whom would you pick? The super intense guy who often reams out his teammates ... or the freakishly big, strong guy who passes willingly and loves a good joke? (Abbott)
Who would win a 1-on-1 game?
I don't know that either guy could stop the other. LeBron is quick enough to get by Kobe and could back him down. Kobe obviously could blow by LeBron and has the more varied offensive arsenal. LeBron's size and weight could wear Kobe down throughout a long game, but Kobe has the better jump shot to fall back on, so he gets the nod. (Broussard)
Quick Olympics story: Both guys played P-I-G against commoners last summer. LeBron almost lost to Sean Gregory of Time Magazine. Kobe used a dunk on his first shot to give Adam Wright of the U.S. water polo team a 'P,'" and it was all but over. It's Kobe. (Sheridan)
Twenty-four seconds to play, down by two. Who gets the ball?
Derek Fisher. Sorry, I was channeling Phil Jackson from a couple of games ago. I'll go with Kobe, because his career résumé includes far more last-second daggers than LBJ's. (Sheridan)
Who gets the last shot?
Kobe's killer instinct is more mature, and despite Da Shot that Bron hit against Orlando, I think Bron would rather make the correct basketball play than try to win the game solo. Kobe understands those aren't mutually exclusive ideas. (Hill)
Who is better?
LeBron, only because of his leadership ability. What he's done and how he's been able to get a team of players up to seven years his senior to follow and believe in him the way the Cavs have (and the ease with which he seems to make it happen) put LBJ over Kobe as the better player right now. Not even Magic was this good a leader at this age. (Jackson)