The NBA on TNT crew was in top form Sunday night following the Houston Rockets’ 104-101 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves in Game 1 of their first-round series. Likely MVP James Harden had a stellar performance with 44 points on just 26 shots, including seven 3-pointers.
The performance caused Charles Barkley to reference a comment made earlier this season by Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni who said Harden was the best one-on-one scorer in NBA history. Barkley proceeded to list Harden, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, and George Gervin and asked co-hosts Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny Smith who was the best scorer between them.
While Barkley seemed to be convinced that Harden may be at the top of the list, Smith and O’Neal quickly shut that talk down, especially in regards to Kobe, via NBA on TNT:
Kenny: “That’s a serious question?”
Charles: “That’s a serious question.”
Kenny: “I mean, I’m going to be bias and take Michael out of it. But no, Kobe Bryant is a better scorer.
Charles: “Than James Harden?”
Shaq: “All day, every day.”
Charles: “I don’t know, man.”
Kenny: “Kobe Bryant is a better scorer.”
Charles: “Listen, I think those guys are better players, because those guys are great defenders.”
Kenny: “Kobe Bryant had 81 points in a game.”
Charles: “James Harden is unguardable.”
Kenny: “Kobe Bryant had 81 points in a game. There’s nobody else that’s come close. It’s Wilt Chamberlain and Kobe.”
Charles: “I’m just telling you, James Harden might be the most unguardable player I’ve ever seen.”
Shaq: “He’s in the top five. Just leave it at that.”
There is no doubt that Harden has earned the right to be included in the discussion as his ball-handling, 3-point shooting, and ability to draw fouls is outstanding. But as Kenny pointed out, Kobe Bryant scored 81 points in a game.
In the end, everything is subjective and these debates are what make the NBA so fun. Watching Shaq, Kenny, and Charles go back and forth on subjects like this on “Inside The NBA” is always worth the watch.
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