Who's better: LeBron or Larry?

Two of the NBA's greatest small forwards do battle in our side-by-side analysis

Updated: June 11, 2013, 3:39 PM ET
By Chris Palmer | ESPN The Magazine

USA TODAY Sports, Getty ImagesHas LeBron James surpassed Larry Bird as the NBA's top small forward of all time?

LeBron James has become the measuring stick of his generation. And as he climbs a half-dozen all-time lists, the inevitability of comparing him to the game's greats grows by the season. Michael Jordan seems to be the obvious comparison. But no matter how tempting that may be, it's a bit premature.

A much more logical debate measures James against arguably the greatest small forward ever: Larry Bird.

Both players have compiled fantasy-like résumés and had a hand in revolutionizing the game by pushing the boundaries of what a small forward is capable of. Despite their stylistic differences, James and Bird have eerily similar philosophical approaches, work ethic and competitive natures.

Bird already is in the Hall of Fame, which awaits James, but at just 28 years old, he still has plenty of unfinished business.

But is he the best small forward of all time? Here's a side-by-side look at how James and Bird stack up.

Chris Palmer

ESPN the Magazine