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Back in the summer of 2008, a couple months after the Celtics had defeated the Lakers in the NBA Finals, Paul Pierce was asked if he thought Kobe Bryant was the best player in the world:

"I don't think Kobe is the best player", Pierce said, "I'm the best player. There's a line that separates having confidence and being conceited. I don't cross that line but I have a lot of confidence in myself."

Despite the fact that the Truth had just beat Kobe in the NBA Finals, that comment may have been a little far-fetched at the time. Kobe had just won the MVP award and was widely regarded as the best in the game.

Given the confidence that Pierce has, however, his answers weren't surprising.  And considering that I was still high off of the Celtics' championship win, I might have actually agreed with him at the time.

Seven years later, Pierce wouldn't get much of an argument from anyone if he said that he's currently better than Kobe Bryant.

The difference nowadays is that neither Pierce nor Kobe have much to be bragging about. The two former NBA superstars have fallen a long way since those Celtics-Lakers Finals matchups in 2008 and 2010, and their steepest decline has taken place this season.

It's hard to say who's really worse at this point, but given how much Kobe has had the ball in his hands it's irrefutable that he has done more to hurt his team. He's played nine more minutes per game than Pierce and he's averaging about 11 more field goal attempts.

Of course those numbers speak to the differences in the rosters between the Lakers and the Clippers, but Kobe's pitiful 33.9% from the field is slightly more horrendous than Pierce's 35.6%.

Here's a full look at their stats this year:

Pierce
• 20.9 MPG
• 5.9 PPG
• 35.6% FG
• 4.3 RPG
• 1.6 APG
• 0.7 SPG
• 0.7 TO

Bryant
• 29.6 MPG
• 16.9 PPG
• 33.9% FG
• 3.7 RPG
• 2.7 APG
• 0.7 SPG
• 2.1 TO

Kobe did have a decent game against the Mavericks on Friday night, shooting 7-15 on his way to 19 points, but the Lakers lost the game 90-82 and fell to 1-8 on the year.

So far in the 2015-16 season, Bryant (age 37) and Pierce (age 38) both look as bad as they've ever looked in their legendary careers.  For the first time since the two of them entered the league in the 90's, they've showed up on Sportscenter more often for air-balls and getting their shots stuffed than they have for highlight dunks or clutch jumpers.

Follow Jack Bardsley on Twitter @BostonsBigFour

Photo Credit: Chris Carlson/AP Photo via Washington Times




Jack Bardsley 11/14/2015 12:15:00 AM Edit
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