Playing the Field: Kobe Bryant can ‘cook’ (almost) anyone

Anyone who follows this space regularly knows about our huge man-crush on Kobe Bryant. The guy is the GOAT (well, behind Michael Jordan) — and not just on the court. His personality is a rare one in sports these days, as Bryant answers reporter’s questions with honesty, candor and he’s never afraid to throw verbal jabs or call people out. It doesn’t matter if you agree, it’s refreshing.

(Case in point, when he told Pau Gasol to put his “big boy pants” on, or when he claimed the latest re-incarnation of the Dream Team would beat the original, or how about his latest ad campaign for The Kobe System).

In a recent Q&A with ESPN’s Steve Palmer, the Mamba didn’t hesitate when grilled about playing his peers 1-on-1. Michael Jordan? Split the series. LeBron James? I’d get him. Kevin Durant? He’d be tough. Tracy McGrady? I cooked him.

We agree. Here’s our breakdown on those matchups.

» Kobe vs. Jordan: The pair have virtually the same game, from the dribble drive to the fall back floater to the under-the-hoop reverse lay-up, this would come down to the last shot every time. Kobe is the better three-point shooter, but Michael can do that if you challenge him (ask Portland). We want to say tie but that would be a cop out, so we’ll give it to his Airness.

» Kobe vs. James: The strongest part of LeBron’s game is his passing, in that regard he’s been compared to Scottie Pippen. How many times has he passed on the last shot to find an open teammate? All the time. In 1-on-1, there’s no one else on the court. It would be very, very close, but the Mamba would indeed “get him.”

» Kobe vs. Durant: Kevin Durant is the best pure scorer we’ve ever seen and while his defense has been steadily improving, we’re not sure if he could get a crucial stop here. But, as Kobe points out, Durant’s length would give him fits all game. Kobe in his prime takes Durant. Kobe right now falls a bucket short.

» Kobe vs. McGrady: C’mon man, there’s nothing to even analyze here. Put the over-under on T-Mac’s buckets at three.

For the record, as fair unbalanced journalists, we must point out that Bryant’s Lakers lost a tough one to LeBron’s Heat Thursday night.

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