By ANDREW MARCHAND
January 27, 2006 -- Who would you rather have: LeBron James or Kobe Bryant? "I love LeBron James," ESPN's Greg Anthony said. "I tooted his horn since day one - but I just think that Kobe Bryant is the best basketball player in this league. Your ability is also your killer instinct. It is not just your physical talent.
"LeBron, for all the greatness that he has shown over the course of his career at this stage, at 21 years of age, he is not ready to go to that next level where he can carry [a team]. Kobe is proving that time and time again.
"What LeBron hasn't developed yet is that ability to take over a game down the stretch. He can do it, but he hasn't brought that mindset consistently."
But isn't Bryant selfish?
"He may try to self-will it at times [but] I don't think he is selfish in having to shoot the ball every time," Anthony said.
"I think in his mind he has to do it to get his team to win. To me, that is not selfish. That is self-willing. Selfish is when you do what you have to regardless of what the outcome is and you know what the outcome should be."
Anthony reasoned that when Bryant scored his 81 points against Toronto on Sunday, it wasn't just Bryant being a ball hog - it was more Bryant being a winner.
"It was a necessity," Anthony said of Bryant, who had 55 in the second half. "The team was playing horribly. They were down 18 in the third quarter."
What separates Bryant, 27, from James is that drive. Bryant is already thinking about his legacy, which means how he wants to be compared to MJ, not LJ.
"This guy [Bryant] eats, sleeps Michael Jordan," Anthony said. "He wants to do what Michael did. He wants to win a championship and be the best player."
Bryant has three rings, but he won them as the second banana to Shaquille O'Neal. Bryant wants to lead the Lakers back with an emphasis on being known as the leader.
Tuesday, Lakers at Knicks 7:30 p.m., MSG Wednesday, Nets at Cavs 7 p.m., YES