Thursday, March 6, 2014

Kobe vs. LeBron: Why 61 was more impressive than 81


To say that LeBron James’ 61-point performance is more impressive than Kobe Bryant’s 81 might, at first glance, appear to defy mathematical logic. On Monday night, LeBron scored from everywhere. But he was still a staggering 20 points behind what Kobe poured in on a January night in 2006 against the Toronto Raptors.

I’m here to say that even with that differential in mind, LeBron James scoring 61 points is more impressive and important to his legacy than Kobe’s 81.

One of the huge (and valid) critiques of his game earlier in his career was the fact that LeBron couldn’t hit a three if he could jump far enough to dunk from behind the three-point line. His rookie season he shot less than 30 percent from beyond the arc and only averaged 33 percent there for the first eight seasons of his career. For a man who could rebound, facilitate, play outstanding defense, his one major flaw was the fact that he couldn’t shoot...from outside.

This performance put a stamp on LeBron’s effort to improve his three-point shot. Since losing to the Mavericks in 2011, he has shot 39 percent (!) from deep. And in his 61-point effort, he hit 8-of-10…a number that would be considered absurd shooting for a game, LeBron did from 3 as part of a 61-point show. By comparison, Kobe hit 7-of-13 in his 81-point game. In Michael Jordan’s 69-point game, he was 2-of-6.

Here is a one-minute clip with all eight of LeBron's threes from Mondaywith the final one being a good 30-feet from the basket.



Keith Olbermann went on a rant just a couple days ago proclaiming all of the reasons why LeBron’s performance was far from memorable. He was quick to mention that Carmelo Anthony scored 62 just 38 days earlier. (Of note: Anthony, too, did not make more or shoot more efficiently from three than LeBron.) That was also followed up by a discussion of Kobe’s brilliant scoring performances. Olbermann forgot one big thing that most other people neglect, as well.


Kobe, Carmelo, and Jordan all are shoot-first players whose teams depend on them to put points on the board. While LeBron gets his shots, he is known for being an efficiency player. His FGA per game has decreased over each of the last four years. His FG% on the other hand has increased in each of the previous eight seasons.


For an efficiency scorer, as opposed to a volume scorer, you wouldn’t expect a LeBron James-type player to score 60+ simply because that’s not what his game is predicated on. We know that LeBron brings to the table a playmaker’s mentality as opposed to just a scorer’s mentality. This is well exhibited in the fact that LeBron already has more triple doubles (30) than Michael Jordan did in his entire career (28) and Kobe Bryant thus far (17).

High scoring performances are needed to validate the greatness of someone like Kobe Bryant. One of the defining moments in Bryant’s career is that performance because it is the top of the mountain of a career built on scoring. LeBron’s 61, on the other hand, validates the fact that he can score in bunches. It adds another piece to the growing masterful puzzle of a great career.

LeBron’s 61 may not be more than Kobe’s 81, but it is more impressive.

2 comments:

  1. If we're going to talk about efficiency, look up Kobe's game against Dallas where he had 62 points in 3 quarters...Lebron had a great night, but other players have had just as good if not better games.

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  2. Kobe shat on Lebron's face. Author is obviously a Lebron dick rider. Good luck garggling Lebron's nuts this season faggot 8===D~

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