Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE
Kobe Bryant and LeBron James will play for the 18th time Sunday afternoon, with LeBron having a decided advantage in the matchup between the league's two most famous players.
It's a Young Jeezy song from 2009. It's the two biggest names in the NBA. They'll probably only match up on one end of the floor, like we wrote here, you should expect Metta World Peace on LeBron and maybe LeBron on Kobe on the other end - but it's still impossible to see these two guys square off and for that matchup not to be the biggest story.
Let's take a look at their 17 career matchups against each other, and how each guy has done in each. Surprisingly, its a lopsided rivalry in LeBron's favor. Even including a sweep in 2009, the first of the Lakers' two title runs, LeBron is 12-5 between the Cavs and Heat against Lakers teams with Kobe playing, including two runs of five in a row. Kobe averages 26.7 points, while LeBron averages 27.7 points, not to mention his ridiculous rebounding and passing numbers.
Their first matchup, and not a particularly impressive one. The Cavs team LeBron's rookie year is the only sub-.500 team LeBron ever played on, and hahahahahahahahah remember that Lakers team with Gary Payton on it? Eeesh, he went 5-for-22. Kobe didn't play in the second matchup between these teams this year.
Kobe: 10 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists
LeBron: 16 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists
Kinda like we said up there: The year after the Shaq trade was the only team Kobe played on that went below .500 - you know, until this one - and it showed.
Kobe: 26 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists
LeBron: 25 points, 8 rebounds, 9 assists
Kobe scored the last six, including a game-winner with under 12 on the clock. LeBron had a chance to tie the game with free throws after Kobe fouled him, but Skip Bayless.
Kobe: 27 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists
LeBron: 28 points, 2 rebounds, 9 assists
Flip Murray - ! - had 14 points in the fourth quarter and hit a game-winning free throw. Kobe missed a potential game-winning three.
Kobe: 38 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists
LeBron: 29 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists
Kobe went off, but Sasha Pavlovic had 21 points in a Cavs win. This is weird: I forgot LeBron had teammates on those teams. Mind you, this is the Cavs team that went to the Finals and got shellacked by San Antonio.
Kobe: 36 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists
LeBron: 18 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists
They made dudes play twice in a week? Damn, NBA, space it out. No Pavlovic here: that 38-performance by LeBron was on only 16 shots, which, yeah, you'll win games that way. This as the fifth straight loss for this Lakers team.
Kobe: 34 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists
LeBron: 38 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists
I'm starting to get worried. Does Kobe ever win?
Kobe: 21 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists
#pray4Kobe - the Lakers didn't even get a game-tying 3-point attempt off as Luke Walton passed to Kobe as the clock expired. LeBron's 41 is surprisingly the only 40-point game either guy has against the other.
Kobe: 33 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists
LeBron: 41 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists
Thank goodness y'all. I was getting tired writing about all those LeBron wins. Sun Yue played 31 seconds in this game, is my point.
Kobe: 20 points, 6 rebounds, 12 assists
LeBron: 23 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists
I probably should mention this Lakers team won the Finals. And the next one did too, but whatever. LeBron went 5-for-20 from the floor, while Lamar Odom led all scorers with 28 and ripped down 17 boards. Oh, THAT'S why we care about Lamar Odom. Forgot for a bit there. I thought it was because he was Kris Humphries' erstwhile brother-in-law.
Kobe: 19 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists
LeBron: 16 points, 8 rebounds, 12 assists
Merry Christmas, Kobe! They finally figured out that this game belonged on the NBA's biggest regular season day, although it took the faux-storyline of Shaquille O'Neal still being relevant when he was on the Cavs.
Kobe: 35 points, 10 rebounds, 8 assists
LeBron: 26 points, 4 rebounds, 9 assists
LeBron went 1-of-9 from three. Still finished with 37 points on 25 shots. That's a thing that's possible, apparently.
Kobe: 31 points, 2 rebounds, 4 assists
LeBron: 37 points, 5 rebounds, 9 assists
Wait, LeBron went to the Heat? A triple-double for LBJ in the second Xmas showdown for these guys.
Kobe: 21 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists
LeBron: 27 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists
I'm seriously surprised by how many of these games turn out to be LeBron wins. Well, not THAT surprised, but whatever. LeBron was the lowest-scoring of the Big Three here, as Chris Bosh had 24 and Dwyane Wade had 19.
Kobe: 24 points, 2 assists, 2 rebounds
LeBron: 19 points, 8 rebounds, 9 assists
31, eight and eight from LeBron, but he's so unclutch.
Kobe: 24 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists
LeBron: 31 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists
Kobe: 33 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist
LeBron: 25 points, 13 rebounds, 7 assists
LeBron went off, and we expect nothing less today.
Kobe: 22 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assists
LeBron: 39 points, 7 rebounds, 8 assists