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Blame LeBron!

One of the best things in sports is being able to compare different generations of athletes. You argue with your parents, grandparents, or your friends over who is the best. Inevitably a person will argue for the player in their generation. But for this argument you really need to look at the generation each player came from and how they became who they were as a basketball player. I give you an argument that my friends and I have been having for nearly two years, LeBron or Kobe?

Now there is something that you need to know about this argument. Michael Jordan is almost always brought up and compared to both these players. MJ was and is the greatest NBA basketball player ever. He was also a tremendous winner and grade “A” jerk. Now the final fact was not known until MJ was done playing and retired for nearly 5 years. Everyone knew that Mike fought with teammates and hated losing but it wasn’t until his venomous Hall of Fame acceptance speech where he destroyed nearly everyone from his basketball life except PA announcer Ray Clay and Johnny “Red” Kerr. This is an important fact and I will come back to, MJ and his unbelievable will to win some time later.

So who is better LeBron or Kobe? I don’t think that you can undeniably answer this question. Kobe has more skill and LeBron is just a freak and uses his freakish talent extremely well. Right now however Kobe is a better winner. Why?

Since he retired every player that takes jumpshots, who is freaky athletic, and is around 6’6 has been compared to Michael Jordan but no two have stood out more than LeBron and Kobe. So why is Kobe closer than LeBron? Because Kobe wins bigger games and he wins titles. But it was not that long ago that people questioned Kobe like they are questioning LeBron. Could Kobe win without Shaq? Could Kobe score as much as he wanted and still win titles? Could Kobe win without Phil Jackson? The answers to all these questions were resounding NO’S! This is funny because nearly 20 years ago all these same questions were being asked about Michael Jordan. Sure we didn’t know then that Phil Jackson was a once in a lifetime coach who could manage talent and ego better than anyone since Red Auerbach but there were all these questions. If you recall one of Mike’s greatest playoff performances, 63 points against the Boston Celtics, in the Boston Garden, was a game that Chicago lost. It took a coach like Phil Jackson to make it perfectly clear to MJ that he needed his teammates and he needed to put his massive ego aside if he wanted to win titles. Mike hadn’t had that since college when his legendary coach, Dean Smith, had to try to contain the monster that would become Michael Jordan his first 7 years in the league. After every loss, Mike was blamed, every early playoff exit, Mike was blamed, every time he missed a game winner, Mike was blamed. Still he kept shooting, kept doing things his way, and kept losing. He believed his talent was so great he didn’t have to listen to the people telling him it was his fault. What did this create you ask? A will to prove every single person who had ever doubted him WRONG.(See his hall of fame speech one massive middle finger to anyone who ever told him he couldn’t do something) So thats what he did, he kept winning MVP’s, he kept winning scoring titles, and with Phil Jackson and a new mindset, he started winning titles. Are you shocked that MJ is 6-0 and NBA finals and was MVP in all 6 he played in and still holds the highest scoring averages in playoff, finals, and regular season history? I for one am not. He needed to be the man and he needed to have his teammates to win titles. But it took losing and being blamed to create the drive that made Michael Jordan great.

Kobe Bryant entered the NBA out of high school much like LeBron James but the two had much different journeys. Kobe had immense athletic ability as a 18 year rookie but his skill had not caught up with him yet. Early in his career he didn’t play much, couldn’t shoot well, and wasn’t strong enough to go to the rim at will. People began to question him. People began to say that he made a mistake and that he should have gone to college. This doubt peaked in 1997 in the Western Conference Finals against Utah. Kobe airballed not 1 but 2 potential game winning 3 pointers to send the Lakers to the finals. This created a fire burning in Kobe that has not gone out since. The questions and doubt became supersized, what was he doing, how could he miss so bad, why was he on the floor? Plenty of hard work, a few years, and Phil Jackson have changed all that. From that point and using those questions and that doubt as fuel, Kobe turned himself into a winning machine. Sure battled a bit of the MJ bug where he thought he could do everything on his own and win, but Phil Jackson fixed that and Kobe has come through that and is on the verge of making his 7th NBA Finals.

LeBron James is an absolute freak of an athlete. He always has been and until age catches up with him he will be for the considerable future. He was on the cover of Sports Illustrated at 16, his high school games were broadcast on ESPN, and he was the first player chosen by his hometown team in the 2003 NBA Draft. In high school if his team needed to win he physically could not be stopped by 1,2, or 5 guys. He did what he wanted to do. Since he arrived in the NBA he has done much of the same. Imposing his great physical skill whenever his team needed a bucket down the stretch. (See the 2006 Eastern Conference Finals against Detroit, ridiculous performance.) Not to mention, all that time LeBron has been a great teammate. Everyone loves LeBron. He is the superstar that enjoys to pass. He is different he was supposed to be the guy that was the Yin to Kobe’s Yang. So why hasn’t LeBron won one, two, or four NBA titles? Because LeBrons competative fire has not been lit yet. Name the last time LeBron was blamed for a playoff loss and it would be the first. That happened last week when people finally began to question his drive and will to win. He claimed that people have been spoiled by his play and I think he is the spoiled one. He has been spoiled by being able to make excuses and blame other people for him not losing. It’s always been his teammates fault or his coach’s fault but it’s never been on LeBron! Much of this has been correct he has never had an elite group of teammates or a coach who knew what he was doing. Well now King it’s all in your face! Your team should have been good enough to beat the aging Celtics last week but you didn’t have the drive to get it done. You haven’t been doubted, you haven’t been blamed, and you haven’t been questioned. Your physical ability has always been there to bail you out. The chip on your shoulder that were massive boulders for Kobe and Mike is barely a pebble. So this summer to me is less about free agency for LeBron and more about if LeBron uses the doubters to become one of the elite winners in basketball history. Does he have the talent? Sure he does. Does he have unbelievable physical gifts that may only come around once in a lifetime? Check, got that too. Has he been blamed enough for his teams struggles? NOT EVEN REMOTELY! It took MJ and Kobe a while to develop their drive and desire. They were knocked out of the playoffs, thrown under the bus, and questioned endlessly. So I say we can’t blame him enough. Start blaming him! Go back to old seasons blame him for that! Blame him some more! Blame him for everything, all the losses, all the failure, everything you can think of. Because until he realizes that he can’t blame bad teammates or lousy coaches for losing any more he won’t become the player we all want him to become.

This summer I am less concerned with where LeBron the free agent will end up and more concerned about when, LeBron the winner will show up.

Categories: NBA
  1. June 3, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    i know that king james will get the ring.. in gods perfect time because he is one of the legendary whom i believe that nba have. MJ,Kobe and King James is one of them. Believe me LBJ 6 will have it next year if he stays in cleveland.. its just a matter of chemistry. Acquiring Antawn is too late but next season belive ne King will be crowned as one among the Best.

  2. Rohan Dwivedi
    June 4, 2010 at 12:15 am

    you missed the entire point of the article…

  3. Rich P
    June 4, 2010 at 1:29 am

    The article was right when discussing eras! MJ, the best of his era and Kobe, the best of his era. Yes, Lebron does need FCC. (Fire, Chemistry and Coaching)

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