The Difference Between Kobe and LeBron Is That Kobe Works

There was a time when Kobe Bryant was a premier athlete in this league. But even in his prime he would never compare to the Paul Bunyan-esque physical attributes of LeBron James. However, physical features are not the biggest difference between Kobe and LeBron.

In fact, they're similar in many ways. They're both alpha dogs on their conference leading teams. They're the two most popular players in the league. And this marks the fourth year of "Kobe or LeBron" discussions, with LeBron taking the lion's share of the votes this season.

The "greatest player in the world" discussion is saved for a rare few, but Kobe and LeBron have owned it for years. So how did they get here?

Kobe earned it.

LeBron was handed it.

LeBron was last year's MVP and will continue that trend, not just this year, but for many years to come. His team once again leads the league in regular season wins. And if "the best player in the world" means putting up numbers and dunks right out of a video game, he's got that title locked up.

But if it means something more, then has there ever been a player so universally acclaimed that has done so little? That is LeBron's life. The NBA's golden boy before he ever stepped onto an NBA court. "The King" before attaining his first win.

It's old news that Kobe is the most polarizing figure in sports. Coming out of high school it was love him or hate him, but thirteen-years later those who hated Kobe now respect him. They respect his legendary work ethic. They respect his accomplishments.

Kobe has earned every shred of begrudged respect there is for him.

He had to rebuild himself time and time again. First overcoming selfishness and aloofness early in his career. Then the Colorado sexual-assault case. Then the messy divorce with Shaquille O'Neal that rocked Los Angeles. Then his own trade demand.

He moved past it all. He answered by winning. He started the 2007-08 season by g...

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