There's no doubting that both Kobe Bryant and LeBron James have some of the most dedicated Stan groups of any athlete, both living or dead. Each respective hive will defend their GOAT to no end, throwing any kind of reason or courtesy out the window along the way. That being said — whose Stans are worse? We take a deep dive into the annals of social media to settle the debate once and for all.
Büsh:I want to start this out by saying that I am a huge Kobe guy. I wouldn't go so far as to call myself a Stan, as I am able to see that LeBron is unequivocally the better player, but if we're choosing one or the other, I'm going with my heart over my head every single time. I'm about as close to being a Stan you can get without actually crossing the threshold (so I believe).
As I'm writing this, there are a myriad of others who have similar feelings for the Bean as I — yet a fraction of the logic and objectivity that prevents me from going full Stan — impulsively pouring their emotions online into eloquent tweets and comments like "Kobe better," "3-6," or my personal favorite, "Le-[bum, choke, baby, flop, etc.]."
Believe me when I tell you that I in no way, shape, or form identify with these mouth-breathing dickriders. As much as I love Kobe and overlook just about every negative/corny thing about him (the self-given nicknames, lack of MVPs, and this), it's not enough to prevent me from realizing that the kid from Akron is simply a much better basketball player (and probably person too).
*Extreme Stephen A. voice* HOWEVER — that does not excuse the equally delusional and pestering 'Bron Stans that endlessly flood my timeline with Kobe slander, blind loyalty, and at times absurd statistics. Things like "MJ played against plumbers and electricians", "Larry Bird is a glorified [insert trash player here]" or "Kobe was carried by Devean George and Robert Horry" are just as absurd and wrong as "Kobe better."
Kobe has forcefully re-inserted himself into what has now become the LBJ-MJ debate with this quote, just like countless little brothers have exclaimed, "what about me?!" before him. The tweet inevitably brought the James Stans out of their caves following the Cavs getting swept with the appropriate "whose mans is this" reaction that is admittedly warranted.
With the reemergence of these pestering fanboys following a period of rare inactivity, Nev and I have decided to settle, once and for all, which group of die-hard devotees are more annoying.
From Nev: The 'Bron Hive
LeBron’s stan club is perhaps the most prolifically active online fan contingency in all of sports. Seeing as he is the NBA’s biggest superstar of the social media age, this comes as no surprise. As the Warriors continue to suck the novelty out of the NBA, this horde of zealots seems increasingly fixated on hoisting James to the coveted throne of G.O.A.T.
Much of the adulation showered upon No. 23/6/23 is completely warranted. After all, LeBron is, with little doubt, the best player of his generation. In my unqualified opinion, LeBron is either the first or second best player of all time. Without rifling through the excruciatingly obscure statistics—you can find those on social media— the numbers (sans rings) favor LeBron over the Mamba.
So why the ongoing row with delusional Kobe stans? The paranoia, insecurity, and bitterness that accompany these comment battle royales seem to be a dead-end street to nowhere.
Just look at the battered psyche of this high-ranking LeBron stan, snapped presumably at the mention of James’ 3-6 Finals record.
Can’t we all just sit back and enjoy the greatness that LeBron brings to the court on a nightly basis without stirring up this mind-numbing shitstorm? Must we denigrate other phenomenal players like Kobe and MJ in an attempt to champion the one they call The King? The Internet’s answer to this is a swift and unequivocal “of course we do.”
We went through the trouble of poring through countless Twitter threads, Instagram photos, and YouTube comments—so you wouldn’t have to. A warning: depending on how you read these, they can either be infuriating or hilarious.
Picture this: it’s the year 2048. The Bulls are playing the Cavs at the United Center. From the rafters hang a single banner that wraps around the entire interior of the arena. It reads: “LeBron is and will be forever the G.O.A.T., unique in so many ways that people dont know how to react.” Not a single fan in attendance remembers any of the other players, not even their formerly beloved Michael.
I’m glad the commenter asked us to all think for a second, because it only takes a fraction of which to identify this scenario as pure lunacy.
It should also be noted that the anonymity aspect of a YouTube account opens the gates to another tier of Stan. Here you will find the most belligerent, least legible nonsense that the Internet can muster. It sells too — this comment received 69 thumbs up.
It would be fair to say that worldofgnr is too easy of a target, but his core sentiment is shared by many: LeBron is the present and future, and the past is irrelevant and forgotten. Michael wasn’t playing against the same caliber of athletes, Evan Turner would’ve been an All-Star in the 90’s, etc. etc.
There’s some validity to this train of thought, but I'm not trying to hear it. The same frame of reference must be applied to MJ himself to see the complete picture. If MJ was as good as he was without access to modern workout techniques, a personal nutritionist or cryotherapy chamber, doesn’t that make his body of work all the more impressive when compared to today’s athletes?
LeBron stan: “Nah man, LeBron is a much better passer and rebounder and all-around player.”
God bless BITW (actually stands for Best in the World) for going to the trouble of digging up these ultimately useless numbers and hitting Egghead Tony right where it hurts. He was even so kind as to repeat the Cavs’ record in case we missed it the first time. Gosh, these statistics are so revelatory! This guy could have his own TEDx talk!
He doesn’t have all the answers though. When it comes to LeBron’s best sidekick during Cleveland Phase I, it’s really anybody’s guess. BITW doesn’t have all the answers. Just the important ones. So if we just compare a couple unrelated metrics, refrain from personal attacks, and leave on a perfectly orchestrated digital mic-drop, voila! LeBron is exactly 4.263x the player Kobe ever was and BITW is still the BITW of his spiteful little Twitter realm.
Jokes aside, this is a tragic case of stardom through statistical overload. Judging by his love of the return button, BITW is most certainly in his forties and has hopped on the LeBandwagon in a futile attempt to convince his followers that he’s a millennial. But like a mom at a Bruno Mars concert, something just seems out of place.
From Büsh: The Mamba Army
Being a lifelong Lakers fan, you learn a few things:
Jim Buss is a crook
David Stern is a crook
98.5% of Lakers fans are the worst people known to mankind.
Ignoring Nos. 1 and 2 for the time being, let's focus on good ol' No. 3. For the most part, LA sports fans are interesting, eclectic bunch. While you have the very rare, yet present diehards that are similar to your run-of-the-mill American sports fan (don't get me wrong — some of these are in that 98.5%), for the most part, the general attitude is, "There's so much to do in LA, you have to earn my fandom. I won't cheer for mediocrity."
Snobbish as it is, that's just how things are around these parts. It's infuriating. When things eventually turn around for my Lake Show, the, "I go back to the Kobe/Shaq days," folks will start coming out of the woodworks, with not a soul possessing the essential knowledge of who Marcelo Huertas or Robert Sacre is. I guess it's understandable to an extent, but what I'm trying to get at is that Lakers fans can truly be the scourge of the earth at times, giving a whole new meaning to "fair-weather" fans.
With that in mind, it's no surprise that some of Kobe's biggest fans are some of the most loathsome people on the Internet, carefully picking and choosing their battles vs. arch-enemy supporters of LeBron, all ultimately ending with something of the likes of 5>3. To them, making it to the Finals and losing is somehow worse than losing in a previous round. We'll call these people the 3-6 Mafia (as much as I wish I did, I didn't come up with that name myself).
The DJ Pauls and Juicy Js of Kobe's fanclub will spam comment sections with LeBron's sub-.500 Finals resume, ridiculing the man for single-handedly carrying what could possibly be two of the worst teams to ever make an NBA Finals appearance. Kobe could never prosper with feeble talent around him (see: 2005-2007), only because he wasn't the ultra-facilitator that 'Bron is. Bring up those dismal years to any Mamba Army battalion member and they might be quick to point out that after taking the '07 Cavs U16 AAU team to the Finals, LBJ didn't return to the promised land until 2011, after he brought his talents to South Beach alongside Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, effectively "ruining the league" by creating the world's first "super team."
First of all, (a semi-washed) Charles Barkley went to Houston to team up with the (also semi-washed) Hall of Fame duo in Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler in 1997. In 2004, the (fully-washed) duo of Gary Payton and Karl Malone joined the Lakers in a last-ditch effort to win a ring. Then you have the Big Three Celtics and the Kobe-Pau-Bynum Lakers.
B-But Büsh, most of those teams were acquired by trades made by the front office, you might say. It doesn't fucking matter. A super team is a super team, and they had been well established before 'Bron joined the Heat.
The final and most perplexing type of Kobe stan that I want to talk about is by far the most removed from reality out of any Mamba Hive dwellers. I'm talking about, of course, the fans that note that LeBron would be nothing without his size, and that if Kobe was six-foot-eight, 250 pounds, he'd be much better than 'Bron ever was.
Yes, there are actual human beings on earth that possess this absolutely preposterous take. Take a look:
Not only is this an even more impossible thing to determine than if MJ would've dominated in LBJ's era and vice versa, but its 100 times more absurd. These imps alone are enough to convince me, though rather unwillingly, that Kobe Stans are far worse than those of LeBron. While 'Bron's may be more annoying and pestering, it's the delusion of the Mamba diehards that ultimately do them in. At least they'll have one thing to be better at than LeBron.