Why Can’t Kobe and LeBron just Play one-on-one?


By Jake Fowler

Enough with the puppets.  Enough with the vitamin water commercials. Enough with the endless Kobe vs. Lebron debate on the talking head shows and in magazines.  I’m sick of it.  Let’s settle this debate once and for all.

Here’s the proposal: The Black Mamba vs. The King play one-on-one at the 2010 NBA All Star game in Dallas.  First player to fifteen points, ones and twos.

In order for this to ever work, one would obviously have to take some logistical considerations in account. First of all, there would have to be major cash involved, because neither player would want to take a major ego hit for free if they lost.  I’m sure Nike would happily throw some money into the pot to get its two largest basketball stars onto a never-seen-before stage.  The game could also be pay-per-view.  kobe-and-coach-k

The May 2 Manny Pacquiao vs. Ricky Hatton fight drew about $50 million in the U.S. alone, and this is in a sport considered to be dying.  A once-in-a-lifetime showdown, in a much more popular sport, would certainly gross more than $50 million.  That’s not even taking into account the money that would trickle in globally.  The All Star game this past season was broadcast in 215 countries.  The NBA could definitely use a payday like this at a time when season ticket sales and merchandise purchases are declining because of the recession.

The timing may also be just perfect for this showdown to actually happen.  Kobe will probably be coming off his fourth title and his first without Shaq.  He will be on top of the world and his career as one of the all-time greats will be cemented.  If he were to lose to Lebron, Kobe could quickly silence his doubters with a quick, gleaming flash of his knuckles.  You know Kobe would play like his wife were being held hostage; and a win like this, in front of 70,000 people in a domed stadium and millions more across the world, would continue to feed Kobe’s insatiable appetite for success and his gigantic ego.   51534076

I could also see Lebron doing it.  He seems to have a flair for the dramatic and embraces the hype and the big stage.  His personality would be entertaining and would play antagonist to Kobe’s cut-throat and less vivacious persona.  Lebron could use the event to help him achieve the global icon status he covets.  Face it: James doesn’t have much to lose.  He’s still young and has many MVP seasons and championships ahead of him.  Lebron’s all-around talent would also make losing a game like this less devastating.  Scoring itself doesn’t define James.  Even if he lost, his passing, leadership, athleticism and rebounding would be enough for many to maintain that he is the better player.

There’s no doubt in my mind the game would be close.  No one is getting embarrassed here.  How awesome would it be to see Kobe’s perfect fundamentals and surgeon-like precision matched up with the power and freakish athleticism of Lebron?  Think of the strategy at play.  Kobe trying to force Lebron away from the basket and hit mid-range J’s and Lebron trying to bully Kobe out of his comfort zone on his fadaway.
I know this is optimistic thinking on the part of a diehard basketball fan who just wishes the Lakers and Cavs would play each other in the finals already, but just dream with me.  I know their games are different, and this is one-on-one, and this in no way wouldactually prove which is the better basketball player, but think of how much fun it would be.   Forget the dunk contest Lebron.  Get out of the stands Kobe.  Come on fellas, let’s have some fun.

Powered by


  1. prowriter0923 says

    I think this is a GREAT idea! I don’t know if I would pay to see this, but I would definitely re work my schedule to make sure I could see it.

    Jordan should referee the one-on-one battle and Magic can do commentary.

  2. Peter Christian says

    Lose the pay-per-view part and I’m in. There is one person that needs to hear this proposal: Mark Cuban. If you sell him on the idea, he can make it happen. He’s publicly said that he is going to make the 2010 All-Star Game the best the league has ever seen, this could be the ticket.

  3. Evan Frank says

    Having the two best players in the game play each other would be a gigantic event. Bringing up the Hatton/Manny fight is a good parallel. That was a second round KO that didn’t really live up to the hype. This however, would have a better chance to catch the publics eye. As the writer mentioned, boxing is dying. LeBron has revolutionized the game since he came into the league. Kobe just proved he can win a title without the help of Shaq. The NBA is thriving right now. Having this matchup happen is a great idea and people would pay for this (if they pay for a boxing match that may last 2 rounds, they will pay for this). As mentioned in the article, this would not determine who is the better basketball player, but I certainly would love to see it.

  4. KnowitAll says

    First of all this could not be done in a single game. Rather, it would have to be a best of 3, or even 5 for it say anything about the better player. A single one on one game is simply not enough of an event to really determine what’s at stake here. Secondly, I’m not entirely sure it’s a fair match up given the body types of the two players. Lebron is clearer the bigger player of the two and has a clear cut advantage in his post game. Kobe’s signature pull-up jumpers and tenacity at the hoop really won’t be an advantage given Lebron’s speed and defensive abilities; Kobe simply has no strength over Lebron in a half court game. Finally, I am not entirely sure this would really be all that fun to watch. It’d be hard to imagine any vicious dunks being thrown down because of both guys’ defensive abilities so one could at best up for tricky layups and high-flying floaters. Sure, you could argue that something might be drawn from the final score of the game, but is the game itself really going to produce enough intensity to keep fans interested. I’d like reference the all-star game’s re-introduction of the HORSE contest. Yea, it was something I was interested in watching, but in no way was it entertaining or engaging.

  5. Jenna Weber says

    This is by far the best sports article I have ever come across. Ever.

  6. paulmbanks says

    It should be best of 5, I agree. cuz if its just up to 15, and one game- its not indictave of who could be better overall

    I agree with Pete that Mark Cuban would be the guy to truly make this happen

  7. Mark Cuban says

    this would be sick. great idea

  8. this is a great idea, whoever came up with this should definitly be getting paid for his work

  9. garethsucks says

    i agree that a one-on-one would not accurately settle the lebron v. kobe debate, but nonetheless it would be fun to watch and espn would have a field day hyping it

  10. ChiTown Lady says

    I would watch it for sure, I would plan a party to watch it, really make it
    an event. I’m not even a huge NBA fanatic but I would FOR SURE get
    excited for that. Where’s the petition to ESPN, count me in.

  11. Knickerbocker says

    I think the hype for this would be huge, but I don’t know if Kobe and Lebron would go all out on each other. I feel like they might mess around and just be fancy to protect themselves if they lose, which would still be entertaining. I think they should change the skills competition to include a 1-on-1 drill, and make the other drills less about speeed and point guard skills. If you had, say, K Dirty and D Wade with Kobe and Lebron, and had them run through a series of tough timed drills (ex. how many fadeaway baseline jumpers can you make in 20 seconds…), and 1-up 1-down game where if you score you stay on the floor, if you miss, the defender gets the ball and the next person is up game (to 5, 7?. I think the players would be more into this, because if they lose it’s less of a shot to their pride.
    Either way… It’d be sweet, but Lebron would probably win because his size, and I don’t want that to happen because Kobe is better.

  12. Kobe's wife says

    As long as I get to keep score!

  13. paulmbanks says

    “give you ice like Kobe wife” –Twista

    There was some dude who commented here “hey this is a really great article and this author is the only reason I would ever visit this site at all” So I deleted his the douchebag. Although I agreed with him on the first part, How would he like it if I showed up at his work to heckle him when he’s driving a fork lift?? or collecting tolls on the freeway or whatever job he does. What a dildo

    Still…love to see all the positive feedback here. this idea really struck a chord with the audience

  14. paulmbanks says

    That doesn’t mean I delete all critcism and just leave in praise. I want people to criticize, but “your site sucks” brings nothing to the table. “your site sucks because of reason x” does add value to the discussion.

  15. Goose is Fat says

    Great Idea, Great Writer, keep up the good sports writing

  16. SERF veteran? says

    I would definately pay money to see this. Although it has come a little ways since LeBron entered the league, the NBA is still not up to par with the success it had in the early 90s. I feel that if this happened, it would jumpstart many other opportunities that would be felt not only by NBA fans, but also perhaps other sports as well. This is a great idea and if it ever happens I will for sure be watching.

  17. G Dizzle Graham says

    One of the best articles I have ever read. Two thumbs up.

  18. I really like the idea and believe that if proposed and promoted correctly that it could make gargantuan profits because it would be bringing together arguably the two best players in the game today. The media, especially ESPN, would have a field day both before and after the event breaking down every minute detail of each players games. I know that at the heart of the idea is resting the kobe vs lebron thing, but why not make the event even more fun. Make it a bracket of 8 players…. maybe only 4 and have them duel it out over two days, having the final game played right before tip off of the game itself. I would love to see d-wade, carmelo, dwight, cp3, and agent zero (if he still knows how to play by then). Lets be honest it most likely would en with a lebron kobe final, the two of them being the lead vote getters, as well as the best players of the bunch. The way seeding would work is by the amount of votes received in the all star balloting, having players 1-8 in the competition. The only difficulty I see, which the article touched on, is getting the players on board. I´m sure behind close doors they would be more than willing/maybe even have done such a thing, say during the 2008 olympic training sessions. Yet, publicly they would be more hesitant worrying about their reputations. Large sums of money would need to be thrown their way to coax any uneasiness about tarnishing their reputations.

  19. great article mr. fowler. really enjoeyd both reading and responding to your work

  20. Cali Kid says

    Very interesting concept except there are two obstacles to overcome and those are egos. Ego’s of the players and the ego of the NBA. You made a very good point of how to overcome the loss as from the point of view from each player, so that may soften the blow to their ego, but it would still take a lot to get them to agree to this. I guess the legendary of winning could convince them to play. Also I think the NBA wouldn’t want to take away from their regular season and wouldn’t want their league turning into some sort of circus act with multiple events like this. Although many probably bring this idea up, your idea is the first I have seen as legitimate and covering all bases. Very well though out and incredibly intelligent insight instead of some random dude blogging from his couch. Great article.

  21. chase kieler says

    I’m glad the author pointed out that the best one on one player in the league is not necessarily the best overall player. I definitely like the idea of holding this game, I think it would be one of the most entertaining things to watch in sports.

    Maybe the fans could vote on a player to challenge the winner of tbe previous year. Since I think the author was right in the fact that whoever lost the game would suffer a huge ego blow, I agree with the idea that there needs to be lots of incentives for the players to play in this game. Maybe a million donated to a charity of their choice, for example. Maybe the game could be a mandatory requirement to play in as part of league rules.

    Overall, I definitely like this idea. I think I would give Kobe a slight edge (but maybe for only another year or so) There’s also this cat by the name of Dwayne Wade who could do some serious damage to kobe/lebron egos. Before I leave I want everyone to just take a deep breath, sit down, and remember these words……….. manu ginobili

  22. Dan Rather says

    i agree with chase. he’s a smart kid.

Speak Your Mind