Kobe Bryant vs. LeBron James: Who Is More Important to His Team?

Asking that question is like wondering whether Steve Jobs is more important to Apple than Bill Gates is to Microsoft.

Or whether Mark Wahlberg is more important to the movie "The Fighter" than Russell Crowe is to "Cinderella Man."

Or whether chocolate chips are more important to chocolate chip cookies than sugar is to sugar cookies.

The same goes for Kobe Bryant and LeBron James and each superstar's importance to his team.

Bryant and James are very different players. They play different positions, have different body types and possess different strengths and weaknesses.

They also play very different roles on their respective teams...roles only they are capable of playing.

Take Bryant, for example. He is the ideal player for the triangle, triple-post offense: the same offense the Lakers have employed since 1999 when Phil Jackson became head coach.

Bryant's versatility and skill set are geared toward this very offense, presumably because he's been playing within it for 11 of his 15 seasons in the NBA.

The first option in the offense is the strong-side post, which Bryant can play as well as any guard in the league.

His back-to-the-basket footwork and fundamentals are among the NBA's best, but he also has the profound ability to face up to the basket and shoot over his defender, take him off the dribble or effectively draw a double-team and find an open teammate.

Bryant also plays just as well on the perimeter, where he can shoot from 13 feet or 30 feet at a high-percentage rate. Additionally, the Black Mamba can create shots for himself and for his teammates...anytime, anywhere and seemingly at will.

James, on the other hand, has always played in a less constrained offense, at least compared to the triangle. The offenses he has played within, in Cleveland and now with the Heat, have been built around him and his ability to create mismatches and draw ...

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