Define Irony: Scottie Pippen hails LeBron James as the new Jordan when in reality he’s the modern Pippen.
What makes sports great is that the truth is revealed in real time before the eyes of millions. You can have all your muddled arguments for the best to ever play the game. So long as the name James doesn’t come up in the discussion I’m willing to listen.
Let’s get something straight. There will never be another MJ. It’s impossible to duplicate both his accomplishments and importance to the game of basketball. With that being said the man to come closest to climbing to the summit of Mt. Jordan is Kobe Bryant.
Self-proclaimed King James is somewhere near the base of that mountain looking up at the likes of Charles Barkley, Karl Malone and Patrick Ewing. He’s got the game but he doesn’t have the IT – that special something that separates the great talents from the all-time greats.
Kobe is a coldblooded killer unafraid of failure forever chasing the impossible. LeBron James is a beauty queen more consumed with appearance than accomplishment.
Make whatever argument you want but the facts speak for themselves. Your eyes did not deceive you. When the greatest pressure of all fell upon the shoulders of LeBron he crumbled. Then, in typical LeBron fashion, he lashed out at his haters.
Want to know the biggest difference between LeBron and Kobe? Bryant takes the hate to heart. He makes it personal. Kobe takes no pleasure in knowing his haters don’t live the same lifestyle he does as LeBron referred to in his infamous post-Finals presser. Bryant only takes pleasure in apologies – as in Magic Johnson publically apologizing for prematurely anointing James the new king.
Unlike LeBron, Kobe allows his game to do the talking. No need to pound your chest and proclaim your greatness when you’ve got an entire hoops world that will do that dirty work on your behalf once you build a hater-proof resume. When Shaq asked Kobe how his ass tasted, Bryant responded by getting one more ring than the Diesel. Kobe then took his shot at O’Neal as soon as he could – not a moment before. LeBron does things the opposite way. James is the king of premature adulation.
James calls his shot then scapegoats his poor performances via his apologists who always have creative excuses.
Guess what? The land of LeBron excuses is running out of real estate.
He didn’t have the supporting cast in Cleveland. He doesn’t have a bench in Miami. He was under more pressure than any other athlete.
Cry me a pool atop a South Beach hotel.
Here is something that you cannot excuse. The title was there for the taking. The NBA Finals were begging for LeBron to put his stamp of greatness on the game. Problem was when Queen James dug in his pocket he realized his stamp pad was all out of ink. Ink he wasted on tasteless free agency announcements. Ink he wasted on pointless WWE style introductions. Ink he wasted in celebrating a victory over an aging and injured Celtics squad.
This is professional hoops where championship opportunities are few and far between. Nothing is promised. Kobe knows this all too well. Bryant was determined to learn this lesson the hard way by trying to go at it all by himself. Lesson learned.
It’s not that Bryant is above making some of the same mistakes LeBron continues to make. It’s that Bryant learns from those miscues and moves on by constantly tweaking his game and obsessively mastering his craft.
As for LeBron, he’s all too happy to get by on his talents alone. The true measure of a great player is how their game develops once their physical skills diminish. Jordan’s prime didn’t come until he was no longer able to simply jump over his competition. He had to outthink his opponents.
Where does that leave LeBron if he can’t find the courage to attack the hoop in crunch time when he’s the biggest, strongest and fastest man in the game? Just how is King James going to win all those rings he promised when he’s no longer able to blow by defenders with ease?
If this is LeBron’s prime then I’m afraid we’ve seen all that is needed to determine his place in history.
He’s Robin with delusions of being Batman. However LeBron’s delusion is the worst kind of all.
There are plenty of guys out there that would have gone down in a John Starks-like blaze of glory. Gunning as if they were the best to ever play the game. Unafraid of taking big shots even if they were never meant to do so. Guys like Sam Cassel and Robert Horry who never knew they weren’t supposed to be stealing the show from their more marketable counterparts. You know, like when a skinny rookie fresh out of high school was shooting air balls for the Lakers in the playoffs. Obviously those shots didn’t fall but it certainly alerted the world to what kind of stones the youngster had.
James in not this type at all.
James wants rings but is unwilling to grab the moment by the horns. He wants to be a global icon but can’t be bothered by taking part in a dunk competition. Quite frankly, LeBron wants to get into heaven but is afraid of death.
LeBron lives in a world dominated by fear. He’s afraid of the spotlight even though his inner Favre craves it. He’s scared of public humiliation even though he’s constantly putting himself out there.
Simply put, he’s not in the same class as Kobe Bryant and he never will be because Kobe lives for the pressure moments. If it were up to him Bryant would play Game 7’s all year long.
Let’s just put this to bed now.
Like those that are constantly apologizing for him, LeBron is guilty of not knowing his place. When Muhammad Ali ran his mouth he was hated. When he backed up his smack by delivering results he was loved. Talk is cheap. Actions speak louder than decisions made in primetime. James somehow thinks his place in history is guaranteed. Problem is he doesn’t realize it could be a spot in the Hall of Infamy that is currently on hold for him.
From here out, let’s keep LeBron out of the Kobe and MJ conversation. He’s in no position to be in the greatest to ever play discussion. Instead, let’s just focus on what his resume dictates. That LeBron could go down as the greatest to never win a ring.