Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade, two of the brightest stars in the game, get ready to shine on Monday. A few questions for ESPN analysts in advance of the Christmas day game (ABC, 2 ET) featuring the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers . . .
SPECIAL HOLIDAY EDITION Take your pick: Kobe or Wade?
Who do you start your team with?
Jon Barry: Bryant. I think he's the closest thing we'll see to Michael Jordan. He is in the Tiger Woods, MJ realm ... they don't accept losing. I played with Kobe -- he has the most drive in the NBA.
Allan Houston: Wade. He has more years ahead of him. If it weren't for that, I'd take Kobe. In a series with the same supporting cast, I think Kobe still has the edge on how he can win a game.
Tim Legler: Wade, because he's younger. He's virtually unguardable. What he went through carrying his team last season was huge. Kobe hasn't won it as the main guy ... he won three with Shaq.
Greg Anthony: Today, I would take Kobe. Even though I'm a huge D-Wade fan. I don't think you'd be unhappy with either. I love Wade's demeanor, but I love Kobe's killer instinct.
Who would win a game of one-on-one?
AH: If you had unlimited dribbles, I'd say Wade. Limit it to two dribbles, I'd say Kobe.
TL: Kobe. He's a little bigger. You know he can rely on elevating at a spot where he wants to shoot. Overall, he's a more consistent outside shooter.
GA: Kobe. Dwyane offensively is in the same stratosphere, but Kobe is at another level in his one-on-one ability.
Favorite and least favorite attribute of Kobe? Of D-Wade?
JB: Kobe sometimes thinks he has to take over the game, and that isolates teammates. He feels it's his job -- that's a good thing and a bad thing. Wade, nothing about him I don't like -- except his wisdom teeth.
AH: Nothing in the least dept., but I do admire that they both have an intense will to win, and a knack for being at their best late in a game.
TL: I like Dwyane's relentless pressure. He reminds me of MJ in that he was the guy who wanted to attack every time. But I'd like to see him be better at shooting the 3, which would force defenses to play him out to 24 feet.
I like that Kobe seems thick-skinned: he's had a lot of detractors, been vilified but plays through it, and that takes a special kind of character. And if you're inside 10 seconds, he's going to make a shot. Relishes it. Many players say they want that shot, but only a handful thrive on it. But I wish we felt like we knew him.
GA: I like Wade's ability to be one of the guys. He's very open, outgoing guy, very comfortable within his own skin. It's nitpicking, but I'd like a little more of a killer instinct -- he has the ability to get 40 or 50, and he's on a team that needs him to do that now. Kobe's very comfortable doing that. I think Kobe's shot selection could be better -- what would be a simply horrible shot for an average player is probably OK for Kobe.
Who's got the best chance to win his next title first?
JB: Wade. If Shaq comes back healthy, they're still where they were. The East is down, so it wouldn't be as hard to get through. The Lakers look like a 5-6 seed, so they would have to go through two monster teams -- they have young pieces but they're not ready for championship level yet.
AH: Wade. With Shaq back healthy, that automatically increases your chance to win. The West is so much stronger, so it will be a tough time for the Lakers to get to the conference semifinals. Even if Shaq's 50 percent, Miami could get back to the East finals.
TL: Kobe. Because he's got a nice young supporting cast. Even though the West is tougher, Miami is still stuck in the Shaq era for a few more years, and I'm not sure if they're going to be rebuilding soon. They're getting too old and too slow.
GA: Kobe. Based on cap structure and youth, Lakers. Phil Jackson says this team reminds him of his early Bulls teams. Kobe looked me in the eye and told me his goal is to win now, and I don't think it was rhetoric.
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Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images
Dwyane Wade's Heat have struggled without Shaq. And now Kobe Bryant must do more with Lamar Odom out.
Scoring doesn't take a holiday on this day ...
-- ESPN Research
Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images
D-Wade has a banner in the Miami rafters to remind him of better times. Right now, the Heat are in danger of missing the playoffs.
-- ESPN Research
-- ESPN Research
The best part about playing on Christmas is having the honor of representing the league in a showcase game. It's like playing in the Thanksgiving Day games in the NFL.
You don't always have to miss Christmas with your family in these games, even if you're the road team. One year when I was with the Knicks we flew into Chicago the day of the game. We had an early Christmas with our families, then flew out at noon for a 6 p.m. start.
Of course, playing some of those MJ teams, it wasn't a very good Christmas present.
It's fun looking back on those games. You know people are going to be watching. For Kobe and Dwyane, this is going to be a great showcase.
-- Greg Anthony
Here's the coaches with the most wins on Christmas Day.
-- ESPN Research