This is always a fun one for Lakers fans. We've been saying this for a while. In fact… here's a little something from 2 years ago.
The simple fact of the matter is that Paul Pierce is, was, and will continue to be better for an NBA team than Kobe Bryant.
Sure, Kobe's more explosive, athletic and prone to give you a "SportsCenter" moment… but Paul Pierce has been just as effective, more efficient, and a better influence on his team. Their career averages are all virtually equal… yet Pierce has had far fewer public meltdowns and squabbles.
And now, in these NBA Finals, both players are putting their legacies on the line. Pierce risks being branded as a second-tier star that is doomed to a ring-less retirement and a slow fade into obscurity as the years pass. Kobe risks being the guy who could never climb into that pantheon of mega-stars that could single-handedly carry his team to a title.
Everyone (at least, everyone not in Boston) figured Kobe was a lock. The word "coronation" was thrown around a lot. But the funny thing is that so far… Paul Pierce is the far better player. In fact… their Finals numbers look a lot like their career numbers: Pierce is averaging a couple of points less while taking fewer shots and shooting a higher percentage.
At this rate, Paul Pierce will be the Finals MVP… and Kobe faces the prospect of never getting out of Shaq's shadow. LA fans will never accept that Pierce is in Kobe's class… but Pierce isn't giving rational basketball fans much choice.