If Kobe and LeBron play, we all win

Kobe Bryant claims he's a better one-on-one player than LeBron James. But which player would win if they actually played and be crowned the real king of the court? AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

If you have the correct answer to the following question, you can be part of the largest pay-per-view sporting event in American history:
Who would win in a one-on-one game between Kobe Bryant and LeBron James?

Kobe Bryant (in London last week): I'd win. That's what I do. One-on-one -- that's easy for me. One-on-one is how I grew up playing. It's, like, my thing. LeBron is more like a Magic Johnson. He's a great passer and plays an all-around game. At the core of me, I'm a one-on-one player. I'd do that in my sleep.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban: It depends on the rules. Is it, "no blood, no foul"?

Yes, the players would call their own fouls. There would be no referee. Who uses refs in one-on-one?

Cuban: Then I take LeBron. He's too big. Regular refs, I take Kobe.

Note: James is 2 inches taller and 30 pounds heavier than Bryant.

Cuban: Because if you let them call their own fouls, then the audience gets to make their own judgments, and that makes it more interesting.

Yes, they'd call their own fouls. So how much would you pay for Bryant versus James on your HDNet?

Cuban: A lot.

Denver Nuggets guard Chauncey Billups: I think Kobe is probably a better one-on-one player, but just in a one-on-one game, I think Bron is probably too big and strong. So Bron would probably win.

Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony: [laughs] I have no clue, man. It'd be a good game, though.

Note: James and Anthony are about the same size, and Anthony has fared well one-on-one versus Bryant.

ABA/NBA legend Rick Barry: I'd say Kobe would beat him. Kobe has more moves. And Kobe's the better shooter. LeBron might beat him in one game, if LeBron got hot with outside shooting. Would there be "three seconds"?

There would be no ref, so it would be up to the players to call three seconds. And in the entire history of one-on-one basketball, nobody has ever been weenie enough to call three seconds.

Barry: Well, then, Kobe would be in trouble. Because LeBron's a beast.

Isn't it true that you played one-on-one versus George "Iceman" Gervin at Trump's hotel in Atlantic City?

Barry: Yeah, George edged me, but I was sick. And Kareem played Dr. J and beat him. J never could shoot from the outside.

Former L.A. Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy: I'd pick Kobe because of his shooting and defending. He moves his feet better. He'd force LeBron to shoot from the outside. LeBron's a freight train in the open court, but there wouldn't be any open court.

Note: Bryant and James have played head-to-head 13 times. In those games, James has outscored Bryant eight times and beaten Kobe's team eight times.

The record for a PPV event is 2.4 million viewers for the Floyd Mayweather versus Oscar De La Hoya bout in May 2007. Considering basketball is miles more popular than boxing and considering these are the game's two princes, I'm guaranteeing 5 million viewers.

Former NBA star Jalen Rose: Kobe Bryant is one of the all-time greats, but beating LBJ at one-on-one after a summer of knee surgery while heading into his 15th year ... I don't think so!

Note: Bryant is 32 years old. James is 25. Bryant is coming off arthroscopic surgery to his right knee in July.

Trainer Tim Grover (Attack Athletics in Chicago), who has trained Bryant, James and Michael Jordan: Hard to say. Kobe could back LeBron down, too. He's that strong. Don't put me in this spot. I'm not picking.

How about Jordan versus either man?

Grover: Oh, Michael. No question. From a physical and mental standpoint, he's the best I've ever seen. If he were playing now, with the way the refs call everything, and with all the padding these guys wear, he'd average 40 or 50 a night if he wanted.

Saint Louis University coach Rick Majerus: If there's no ref, then I pick LeBron. He's bigger, stronger and longer. Kobe would brace up and get more charges, but who calls charges in one-on-one? LeBron's length will bother Kobe, too. He'll block shots from behind. He's got that huge tight end body.

If there's a ref, I pick Kobe because he's relentless and because of his heart. Kobe wouldn't take a possession off. LeBron might. LeBron doesn't always treat the game with the seriousness and determination that Kobe does. Kobe is the ultimate in efficiency. He has the most beautiful economy of motion.

People! No refs! Sheeesh.

Steve in Los Angeles: Would there be 3-pointers?

Yes. And although both players shoot about the same from the field (Bryant shoots 45.5 percent, James 47.5 percent), Bryant is the better 3-point shooter -- 34 percent to James' 32.9 percent. Slight advantage to Kobe.

Note: In the Nike ad with the puppets, LeBron seems to get the best of Kobe.

Bill P. from Denver: Would it be make-it-take-it or alternating possessions?

Oh. My. God. Make it take it! Who plays alternating possessions in one-on-one? Where are you from, Sweden?

Bill P.: Then I pick Kobe because he'd get hot and never give the ball back. But if it's alternating possessions, then I'd pick LeBron. Kobe would get tired out having to guard the larger man every other time.

Note: In a recent Slamonline.com poll, readers picked Bryant 71 percent to 29 percent.

Former NBA coach Jeff Van Gundy: I have no idea of who would win, but this is exactly what the All-Star Game needs. Forget the dunk contest, the rookie-sophomore game, the skills challenge, the 3-point thing, give us Kobe and LeBron to 21 and they call their own fouls. Get sponsorship and give money to charity. You have to get this done!

Sorry, the money is much bigger with PPV. Besides, I already called the NBA, and the league wouldn't bite on it.

Kevin Grigg, Detroit Pistons media guy: Do you have to win by two?

Yes, you must win by two. Because of the higher point value for baskets, the games would be to 35. Best of five. Coin flip to determine who gets the ball first, then winner gets ball out each game thereafter.

Grigg: In that case, the game might never end.

Dunleavy: Man, I'd pay to see that.

Which is what we're counting on.

Consider that both players are fans of the Boys & Girls Club of America. In fact, when LeBron announced his decision to play for the Miami Heat, he sold it as a fundraiser and made them more than $2 million. That would be couch-cushion change compared to this.

At $50 per head, 5 million viewers would produce $250 million. If the average cost of building a Boys & Girls Club is $10 million, the proceeds would build 25 clubs around the country.

So the answer to the question: Who would win in a one-on-one game between Kobe Bryant and LeBron James? It's neither Kobe nor LeBron … it's kids.

July 4, 2011, work for you two?

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