Tuesday , Nov , 18 , 2008 C.Y. Ellis

Magic Johnson: Kobe Bryant Is Better than Paul Pierce

Appearing via video screen from Los Angeles courtesy of a high-tech system that allowed him to make virtual eye contact with reporters in Boston, Johnson was asked whether 2008 NBA Finals MVP Paul Pierce was the best player in the league right now. Johnson praised the Celtics forward but sided with the Lakers’ reigning league MVP, Kobe Bryant. Johnson measured both players by the consistency of their accomplishments, unwilling to give Pierce’s play last week more weight.

"Paul would like to think he’s better than Kobe," said Johnson with a hearty laugh. "But Kobe Bryant is the best closer in the game. He’s the best player in the game. You have to remember he’s done it for a long time at a high level.

"Now, was Paul Pierce better than Kobe in the Finals? Of course, he was better than everybody in the whole playoffs. Is he one of the top three or four players in the league right now, Paul Pierce? Of course he is. It’s hard to find a guy who can go inside and outside and also a guy who can put it on the floor, then make plays for other people.