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TOTALLY RANDOM

Jerry West leans in direction of LeBron James over Kobe Bryant

Despite bringing Kobe from Philadelphia to the Lakers, West says LeBron 'has a chance to be arguably the greatest player ever to play the game.'

May 19, 2009|Mike Penner

Kobe or LeBron? Last season's NBA most valuable player or this season's? Whom would you rather have on your team this time of year?

Jerry West has made his choice . . . and it's not the big-skilled kid from Philadelphia he brought west in 1996.

"I look at Cleveland [and] say to myself, 'How many games could they win without LeBron James?' " West told Reuters in an interview. "That's how great he is.

"He has a chance to be arguably the greatest player ever to play the game." Better than even Michael Jordan?

"Michael Jordan was the best defensive player in the league, but he was also the best offensive player," West said. "It wasn't a one-year fluke, he proved it over time.

"LeBron James will do the same type of things because he's getting better. He's a much more effective shooter. When he's making his shots from the outside, you can't play him.

"He's just too big, too strong, too quick. And he has incredible body control. But more than that, he's a great teammate. You can see his teammates love him."

Still, with the score tied and the clock winding down, West said he would want the ball in Bryant's hands.

"If I had to have somebody make a last-second shot, it would be Kobe Bryant," he said. "But even though it's hard for me to be objective, because I brought Kobe to Los Angeles, I do think LeBron has surpassed Kobe as a player."

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Trivia time

Magic Johnson scored 42 points for the Lakers in Game 6 of the 1980 NBA Finals, pinch-hitting for an injured Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at center, to clinch the championship over the Philadelphia 76ers. Who finished second in scoring for the Lakers that game?

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Without a doubt

West, 70, gave his interview in Washington while attending a conference about atrial fibrillation, a condition he has that can cause a racing heart, sleeplessness, anxiety and depression.

The condition, diagnosed in West at age 42, forced him to leave the front office of the Lakers and then the Memphis Grizzlies in 2007.

West, a 14-time All-Star in his playing days, said he does not think about how he would fare in today's NBA but added, "I would be competitive, trust me."

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Dolphins look scary too

The Boston Celtics, eliminated from the playoffs by the Orlando Magic.

The Boston Bruins, eliminated from the playoffs by the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Boston Red Sox, eliminated from the playoffs by the Tampa Bay Rays.

Coming this fall to the NFL: the New England Patriots, being very wary of the AFC South.

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Trivia answer

Jamaal Wilkes, with 37 points.

(Question and answer provided by reader Mike Pollak of Los Angeles.)

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And finally

Mike Hart of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, musing on the concept of Brett Favre un-retiring again and enlisting with the Minnesota Vikings so he can exact revenge on the Green Bay Packers: "You didn't see Pete Best go out and try to sign with the Monkees after the Beatles decided to march with a different drummer."

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mike.penner@latimes.com

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