Kobe Bryant and LeBron James Will Ultimately Be Judged By History

The never-ending debate concerning Kobe Bryant and LeBron James has entered a new phase with James' recent free agency defection from Cleveland to the sunny beaches of Miami.

For the first time in his career, James has a team that is able to match the Los Angeles Lakers in talent and star power, and the perception is he will assert his dominance as the game's best player.

In some people's eyes James is already the game's best player, and this may be true, but instead of continuing to argue an infinite debate, why not let history be the final judge between the two players?

NBA history has a way of separating the great players from the legendary ones, and although a player's career numbers factor heavily into the equation, the ability to win championships is the distinguishing factor.

For instance, many people view Karl Malone as the greatest power forward in NBA history, but when Tim Duncan's name is mentioned, history will elevate him because of his four championships.

Championships are a team achievement and Duncan had great teams, but so did Malone, and the fact Utah was never able to defeat Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls doesn't diminish Duncan's titles.

But it does help provide a good closing point for an argument for history's greatest power forward, and when comparing great players most of the debates end the same way.

If Bryant's career ended today he would be remembered as one of the greatest players the NBA has ever seen, and perhaps the best player in the history of one of the league's most storied franchises.

That's not a claim James can make right now, and under that light, Bryant's career and five championships far out-distance James' career, but the tale is far from done.

It's presumptious to think James is not capable etching his name among the legendary greats of the NBA, because a title appears to be much closer to reality ...

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