Leading up to LeBron James passing Kobe Bryant on the All-Time scoring list On January 26, 2020. Many NBA experts and fans have been comparing the two players and their playing types. Kobe Bryant is a shooting guard that shot the ball, while LeBron James is a pass-first player that will score when he needs to.
Both are basketball savants in their own right, but who has the higher IQ. To answer that question, I reached out to veteran journalist Michael Tillery, who covered both players during their careers.
“It’s interesting because I think they are two different robots. Two different models that are just as effective, I would watch Kobe [Bryant] when he would come to Philadephia, and there was a writer named E. James Beale. He said to me. I wonder if Kobe sees the floor as a grid. So, after the game, we went into the locker room and asked him the very question, and he confirmed it,” said Tillery.
“So, Kobe has this mind that was seeing the floor, separately than even basketball. So, a lot of people walk with a basketball they use the basketball court. They shoot at the rim, they look at the lines, but they are not looking at in boxes like Kobe did. To be where he could be in certain places on the floor to score. He did this thing where it was this elbow jumper maybe eight to ten feet from the basket. He would incessantly before he moved out, other spots. So, that’s where that grid started from for him.”
As for James, “Lebron and you when he was with the Heat, he would do this, spin move, and he would spin opposite and shot a jumper usually from the baseline. So, he looks at the floor with crazy IQ as well. As I said to you earlier, LeBron is the only athlete, I’ve ever encountered that answered my questions before I finished asking the question. He’s that smart. I was asking him before the Beijing Olympics what he would bring back. He was very hesitant to describe what he may bring back because he was confident in his own skill. But he brought back vigor and a priority to play defense, and he should have been Defensive Player of the Year in 2013, but Marc Gasol won it without being the first team that year.
He would continue: “However, If I were to put LeBron James [& Kobe] and maybe describe them in superhero terms, I would say either one was Batman, and the other one was Superman. They are both effective for history, but it is really, who you want to choose. If you want a facilitator that when things break down you want LeBron. If you want a straight killer, you are rocking with Kobe.”
LeBron James is a year removed from winning his fourth championship Los Angeles Lakers and is one way of tying Kobe Bryant with five rings.