Kobe Bryant and LeBron James both came to the NBA straight out of high school and played their first career games at the age of 18. Kobe played in the league for 20 seasons before he retired and James is currently working on his 15th. Michael Jordan, on the other hand, attended three years of college at the University of North Carolina and spent a total of 14 seasons in the NBA. Jordan is considered by many NBA fans and Hall of Famers the G.O.A.T.

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of the league.

Well, Thursday, on ESPN's "First Take," it was reported that Mike was asked who he thinks is the better player and ranks higher on the list of greats between LeBron and Kobe. It should have come to no surprise that his Airness himself, ultimately picked Bryant over James. In the eyes of Mike, what separates the two in the ranks is the fact that Kobe has 5 rings and LeBron has just 3.

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However, LeBron's career still isn't finished and many would argue that Kobe having Shaq on his team for his first three titles was something that helped and hurt him in the argument. On the contrary, James needed a partner in crime in Dwyane Wade himself to win his first two titles. So, in all fairness, the two players are on even playing grounds.

Kobe's career milestones

Kobe Bryant began his career coming off the bench with the Los Angeles Lakers in his rookie season.

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It took him three seasons to average more than 20 ppg but when he found his game, his game would be the closest thing to Michael Jordan the game of basketball will ever see. In just his fourth year in the NBA, Kobe would win his first NBA title. In that season he was second on the team in scoring to Shaq, averaging 22.5 ppg.

In his next two championship wins, he would play a much more equal role to O'Neal and helped take down the league MVP Allen Iverson and the 76ers in just five games.

After that, Bryant embraced the idea of wanting to lead his own team and escape the shadows of the big guy. Once his wish was granted, he went on to win back-to-back scoring titles from 2005-07 and averaged a career-best 35.4 ppg in one of those seasons. In the first season returning to the finals in the 2007-08 season, Bryant won his first and only league MVP award.

From 2008-2010, Kobe answered the critics who did not credit him for his first three NBA titles.

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In a lead role this time, Bryant was able to win two more championships in back-to-back fashion. He would end his 20-year career with averages of 25.0 ppg, 5.2 rpg, and 4.7 assists. He also owns two NBA Finals MVP awards as well. The skills on the court he displayed for 20 years were some of the greatest the NBA will ever see.

Unlike James, Kobe demanded to be the guy to take the last shot when the game was on the line. His assassin-like mentality makes him one of the most feared fourth-quarter players in NBA history.

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LeBron's achievements

LeBron James has consistently put up good numbers his entire NBA career. When he came to the league in 2003, he was projected to be the player to succeed Michael Jordan as the greatest player of all-time. However, there was a man by the name of Kobe Bryant that stood in his way and was not going to make it easy for the King. Like Bryant, it took James just four seasons to make his first ever NBA Finals appearance but the Cavs were swept by the Spurs.

After seven seasons in the league, LeBron realized if he was going to win a championship, he would need the help of another star to carry the load. When he joined forces with Dwyane Wade in Miami with the Heat, he found just what he was looking for. In their four seasons together, Wade would help LeBron win his first two NBA titles. He won two of his four league MVP awards in those seasons.

Since returning home to Cleveland, he's led the Cavs to three consecutive NBA Finals appearances. The Cavs have only been able to win one of those three, but like Kobe, James finally won a title while playing the lead role. As of now, his career averages look better than Bryant's by a small margin. He averages 27.1 ppg, 7.3 rpg, and 7.0 apg. Only time will tell who was better and that won't be until after James retires. So, he has more time to make Michael's opinion less relevant, especially if he continues to play at the level he has.

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