Does Kobe Bryant have LeBron James' number?
When Bryant was asked on the Los Angeles Lakers' recent trip to London whether he or James would win a game of one-on-one, he smiled and quickly said he would come out on top.
"I'd win," Bryant said. "That's what I do. One-on-one -- that's easy for me. One-on-one is how I grew up playing. It's, like, my thing. LeBron is more like a Magic Johnson. He's a great passer and plays an all-around game. At the core of me, I'm a one-on-one player. I'd do that in my sleep."
As it turns out, Bryant may be right.
According to ESPN researcher Alok Pattani (using Synergy Sports Tech's video tracking of individual in-game possessions), Bryant has outperformed James in one-on-one situations.
Looking at times when Bryant and James guarded one another on-ball in "isolation" situations over the past six seasons, Bryant has scored 20 points in 27 isolation plays, while James has managed just seven points in 13 isolation plays.
On a points-per-play basis, Bryant wins, 0.74 to 0.54.