Blog Entry

LeBron James tops Kobe Bryant in NBA 2K12 ranking

Posted on: September 17, 2011 6:13 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver


An eternal -- and eternally exhausting -- debate about who is better, Miami Heat All-Star forward LeBron James or Los Angeles Lakers All-Star guard Kobe Bryant, has been re-opened in the video game world.

This week, NBA 2K12 unveiled player rankings for James and Bryant in a post on the game's Facebook page. James is shown rating as a 98; Bryant is shown rating as a 94. In NBA 2K11, both James and Bryant rated 97 according to The Real 2K Insider. Chicago Bulls Hall of Fame guard Michael Jordan was ranked as high as 99 in NBA 2K11 and will re-appear in NBA 2K12.

It's understandable why, by video game measures, James has surpassed Bryant. James is 26 and entering his prime; Bryant is 33 and has exited his prime. James is a statistical monster, averaging 26.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 1.6 steals and .6 blocks per game last season, better than Bryant in every category. He also played significantly more minutes per game, shot a much better field goal percentage and the Heat advanced two rounds past the Lakers in this year's playoffs. 

That won't matter to Bryant's diehards, though, who point to his five NBA titles and James' lackluster showing against the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 NBA Finals. For comparison, our Eye On Basketball Elite 100 player rankings listed James as the unanimous No. 1 player in the NBA, with Bryant ranking No. 6. 

While James deserves to rank higher than Bryant, it's fair to ask whether Bryant was dropped too far in this year's rankings.  Bryant appeared in all 82 games last year despite a knee injury and his numbers in 2011-2012 -- 25.3 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.7 assists -- were very similar to his numbers the previous season, despite the fact that he played four less minutes per game. His shooting percentages were virtually identical across the board. A video game rating drop from 97 to 94 is fairly steep; Bryant's real life statistics didn't reflect that type of slippage. 

If we presume that Jordan at his prime will rank 99 then it's also fair to question James' 98 ranking. There's still a noticeable gap between the two players; anyone trying to dispute that needs only to rewind the tape from NBA Finals Games 4, 5 and 6. It's not even close. In this non-expert's opinion, James deserved to remain at a 97, he took no major leaps forward in his game last season, and Bryant should have fallen no lower than 95.

Hat tips: and

Images via NBA 2K12 on Facebook.

Since: Sep 21, 2011
Posted on: September 27, 2011 5:06 pm

LeBron James tops Kobe Bryant in NBA 2K12 ranking

NBA 2K12 Ratings Released



The reason LeBron went up from last season is merely due to a change in the ratings formula (all SFs that play excellent defense went up).

Since: Sep 21, 2011
Posted on: September 25, 2011 9:11 pm

LeBron James tops Kobe Bryant in NBA 2K12 ranking

Since rings are apparently everything I guess you think Robert Horry and Steve Kerr are better than Karl Malone and John Stockton too.

Since: Sep 25, 2011
Posted on: September 25, 2011 8:47 am

LeBron James tops Kobe Bryant in NBA 2K12 ranking

People stop all that talk. No matter what is said Kobe has 5 rings LeBron has none. This, why both play the game. LeBron don't know how to be humble. He is very good, he put points on the board, but before we say he is better than Kobe, let him win 6 rings, then we can have a disscusion as to who is better. I know you guys enjoy the video games, but it's a "VIDEO GAME". By the way if you can help win a game for your team in the last 5 mins, doesn't that say how good you are....

Since: Sep 21, 2011
Posted on: September 21, 2011 1:25 am

LeBron James tops Kobe Bryant in NBA 2K12 ranking

Would like to thank CBS for linking to my blog, the Real 2K Insider.

All one has to do is visit an advanced statistics page to see where LeBron's advantages over Kobe. 

LeBron James

Kobe Bryant

LeBron lead the league in PER, Win Shares, and Win Shares per 48 minutes.  He has lead the league in those 3 categories for the last 3 seasons.  He has been without a doubt the best player in the NBA over that period.  LeBron shoots a higher percentage because he is a better finisher at the rim.  Kobe is not as athletic as he once was, but he never rivaled LeBron's domineering efficiency at the rim even during his prime.  LeBron's jumper was once a weakness but this season he surpassed Kobe from the mid-range (16-23 feet) according to

Defensively, it isn't even close.  Kobe has lots a number of steps defensively and it is embarrassing that he makes all-defensive 1st teams while Ron Artest doesn't even get selected to 1st OR 2nd team.

Using Synergy Sports which tracks each and every individual defensive possession...

LeBron: 0.76 Points Per Possession (21st)
Artest:  0.80 Points Per Possession (50th)
Kobe: 0.89 Points Per Possession (216th)

LeBron posts especially high defensive marks in the post, off screens and hand-offs, EITHER END of the pick and roll (the ball handler or the roll man), and spotups.  Artest has similar marks (though his are slightly worse than LeBron's).  The one major difference is that Artest has better Isolation defense (26th to LeBron's 121st) but his post defense was awful this year (248th to LeBron's #2 ranking).

Kobe is comparable to LeBron on Iso and Post defense, but does not do nearly as good a job closing out on shooters.  Spotup shooters and shooters coming off screens hit 38% of their threes against Bryant.  LeBron allowed 3pt shooters to hit only 34% (Spotups) and 19% (Screens).  Kobe simply doesn't have the quickness anymore that LeBron does.

At the end of the day, 2K Sports actually has Kobe overrated (for the 12th year in a row).  They still think he is an elite defensive player and that is simply not the case anymore.  In my rosters (used with 2K's formulas), LeBron is rated 97 due to his All-Around game, but Kobe only manages 91.  This is still good enough for top 5 status.  Of couse, as we learned with LeBron, top 5 status doesn't mean you can beat the Dallas Mavericks (speaking of LeBron's "choke", have we all forgotten the Heat won 2 more games than Kobe and the Lakers did?).

Since: Mar 22, 2010
Posted on: September 20, 2011 12:58 am

LeBron James tops Kobe Bryant in NBA 2K12 ranking

Lebron James gets 2 weeks worth of rest when his season is over then he gets right back into the gym. He practices 6 days a week sometimes twice a ady and not only shooting but with weights and yoga and a whole lot more duration excercing. No body works harder than Lebron in the off season. I live in Cleveland and before Lebrons last season here he told his trainer to be at the gym the very next day after cleveland lost in the playoffs. His trainer refused telling Lebron he needs 3 weeks at least to let his body heal. Lebron told his trainer he would take 2 weeks and not another day longer.

It was easy to see in the finals that Lebron looked tired, passing instead of shooting, standing around,   and the coach was an idiot to not rest him. He played in most of the finals 44 minutes a game when Wade played only about 37 minutes a game. I hope Miami learned from this crucial mistake.

Since: Sep 20, 2011
Posted on: September 20, 2011 12:31 am

LeBron James tops Kobe Bryant in NBA 2K12 ranking

Kobe's FG % was 45% last year and 32% from deep. Lebron FG% was 51% and 33% from beyond the arc.

Where are you finding these numbers? 

Since: Sep 19, 2011
Posted on: September 19, 2011 11:44 pm

LeBron James tops Kobe Bryant in NBA 2K12 ranking

Hater . did you know LeBron made 52% of his shots last season? he was 37% from beyond the arc. kobe bryant shot a mere 37% last season , on all his field goal attempts . LeBron averages like 3 more rebounds than Kobe . like 5 more assist than Kobe . Kobe has 5 rings . thats nice , but Shaq won the first 3 finals MVPs . Pau Gasol wouldve won the last 2 if the NBA business wasnt on the kobe bandwagon .

Since: Sep 19, 2011
Posted on: September 19, 2011 6:24 pm

LeBron James tops Kobe Bryant in NBA 2K12 ranking

I agree with you 100%. In the finals I believe that LaBron just got tired and over anxious to win. Not enough rest periods. Every superstar is human. WE ALL GET TIRED IN THE END. The coaches seem to be unaware of that these days. There just simply is not enough support from the bench What in the hell are those guys on the bench doing in practice these days. It's the bench that should get you over the finish line in the heat of battle. To take up the slack while the superstar refreshes on the bench Even a jaguar needs rest.

There are basketball gym by the millions. Don't just settle for the bench. Everyone is needed when the time of the end, especially when the superstar runs out of energy. I put the blame on some of the trainers.

But the blame really goes to each player. NO ONE CAN BECOME GREAT WITHOUT PRACTICE, PRACTICE AND PRACTICE. Everyone, after a hard workout should practice free throws. I have seen more games lost in the fourth quarter due to missed crucial free throws.

When I got to college and was consistently missing my jumpshot, I ASKED THE COACH WHAT WAS I DOING WRONG. My coach was coached by the GREAT JOHN WOODEN. The coach told me that I was fading backwards instead of straight up and slightly forward. And I was releasing the ball too late. Release the ball at the top of your jump. Now I know some can perfect fadeaways, but I was just learning. I'm too short for fadeaways. I'm only 5'5".

I began to PRACTICE, PRACTICE AND PRACTICE until I was shooting 90%. THAT'S RIGHT, 90%. I did a lot of jump roping, Before each game I would jog forward around the court three times and then backwards around the court three times. My stamina increased beyond my wildest dream. I could play game after game after game, because I learned to pace myself. Nothing fancy, just the basic. Our team dominated the win column. No one wanted me on their team at first, but afterwards everyone wanted to be on my team. Though I was the best shooter on all my teams I ALWAYS PLAYED TEAM BALL. IT'S A FIVE MAN GAME. Sure there are players that are more consistent, but how is a struggling player ever going to become consistent if he never gets the ball. And, of course, if he did his practice would he be a struggling player?

I never forced a shot except a few times. I always shot when I had the open shot in my SWEET SPOT. Sometimes I would shoot under pressure when the game was on the line, but usually it was in my sweet spot. Occassionally, I would shoot beyond the three point line and hit the bottom of the net. It was like magic.

Players these days don't seem to take practice seriouriously enough. I hope you get a chance to view videos of the games of yesteryears when team ball was the greatest. AS MY MOTHER ALWAYS REMINDED ME; "PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT." SHE'S RIGHT.

Since: Sep 19, 2011
Posted on: September 19, 2011 5:41 pm

LeBron James tops Kobe Bryant in NBA 2K12 ranking

It isn't always the superstars that win games. Case in point. I started playing in 1958. I watched as many games as possible. I couldn't shoot, pass or dribble, but I taught myself. I learned to shoot up close around the basket and as I got better I moved farther and farther out. I would not make a move until I perfected the shot. I was shooting jumpshot one foot from the mid-court line. It was not magic, but perfected skills over years of practicing. I could shoot from anywhere on the court and over the tallest opponent. No one could stop me. But I was a team player. I distributed the ball at the right time to the right player in the right spot. My teammates fed me the ball as long as I was making the shots. How about 20 made shots in a row from different spots on the floor. We won, won, and won.

I got on one team and missed a lot because the floor was dirty and I slipped a lot so I got benched. One day the player-coach did not show up. One of my teammates who knew my skills fed me the ball around the court. I made shot after shot. I couldn't miss. The floor was clean but I still dampened my sneakers that gave me better traction.

During the game my teammates fed me the ball and I made 90% of my shots shooting twice over the 7 footer. No one could stop me. But I did the right thing: I passed the ball to my open teammates. WE WON BIG TIME. When our player coach returned he heard of the news, but would not let me play. That was only one of the two games we won all season.

When I missed I pass off to my teammates. We were a TEAM. I GOT FED THE MOST BECAUSE I WAS THE BEST SHOOTER. BUT I PASSED UP A LOT OF SHOTS TO KEEP MY TEAMMATES INVOLVED. It built up their confidence and they started making crucial shots.

These days coaches and players rely upon the superstars too much. Every player has its good days and its bad days. On the good days, sure give them the ball. On the bad days he should pass the ball more and shoot less or warm the bench and let the secret superstar fill the void.

What is wrong with the coaches  these days? They seek glory for themselves rather than for the players who are the reasons they have a job. Pat Riley interferred with the Thunder's coach too, too much. Riley's glory days are over. He WAS a GREAT COACH. NO ONE CAN BE GREAT FOREVER. The Thunder's coach could not do what he wanted to do. THE PLAYERS ARE DIFFERENT THESE DAYS. DROPPING OUT OF HIGH SCHOOL TO PLAY PRO. THEIR NOSES ARE STILL RUNNING. You can't force a baby to start running just because it walks early. Early walker become bow-legged or just the opposite. WHAT GREAT PLAYER FROM HIGH SCHOOL WON CONSISTENT CHAMPIONSHIPS. THEY DON'T KNOW HOW TO PLAY TEAM BALL ONLY LONERS WHO MESS UP THE GAME FOR EVERYONE ELSE LIKE WESTBROOK AND MANY OTHERS. EVEN KAREEM PLAYED TEAM BALL, MAGIC, DIRK, AND ALL THE GREATS PLAYED TEAM BALL. TEAM BALL. TEAM BALL. I CAN'T SAY IT ENOUGH. I THINK A TEAM SHOULD BE BOYCOTED THAT DON'T PLAY TEAM BALL.


Since: Aug 19, 2006
Posted on: September 19, 2011 5:07 pm

LeBron James tops Kobe Bryant in NBA 2K12 ranking

 Dont pay any attention to Sman. If you can believe it  he's a 45 year old guy with an epic mancrush on Kobe. It's sad reading through his posts, it really is. LeBron rubs a lot of people the wrong way, I get that, personally I think he is a douch, but skill wise he's unmatched in the NBA. He can score on and guard every position, and do a pretty good job at it. I don't remember Kobe ever being able to do that. Look at how LeBron took care of Rose in the play-offs, a top 3 player in the league and reigning MVP. Kobe looked absolutely lost in the play-offs on the defensive end. He got burned by Paul, Terry and just about everyone he matched up against had a great game offensively. His defense these days, and for the last couple seasons, is based on reputation. Personally I don't get it. They had to bring in Artest to handle the other teams top threat defensively, what does that say about Kobe? LeBron might have wilted in the Finals, but at least they got there. Not bad for basically a brand new team. You'd be foolish to think that they won't be right back in the Finals next year too, and the Finals after that. Who was the moron talking about 'he can't pass" btw? What an idiot. LeBron is most likely a top 5 passer in the league, and that includes point guards. How do you expect people to take your post seriously with bs like that? Not to mention you say he can't shoot.... hmmm that's strange, please tell me why he shoots 51% from the field, compared to Kobe 43%, and.......... wait for it 33% from beyond the arc, compared to Kobes 32.9% ? That's right, LeBron averaged more points, assists, rebounds, steals, blocks, higher field goal % and the topper, a higher 3ptFG% than Smans "BY FAR BEST PLAYER IN THE NBA" Kobe Bryant. I'm still trying to figure out how thats possible. Please explain. Is LeBron shooting 3pts from the college line? There must be some reason why LeBron is a more prolific / efficient scorer than Kobe Bryant... Help me out here Kobettes.

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