Why Michael Jordan & Kobe Bryant Didn't Take Talents to South Beach Like LeBron
If you haven't heard that phrase, it means your only sports of choice are competitive cheerleading and/or professional billiards. But that's neither here nor there.
We all know that more than two years ago LeBron made the earth-shattering decision to leave his hometown of Akron, Ohio, in favor of the sunny beaches of Miami. It was a decision that changed the world, and honestly, changed the landscape and balance of power in the NBA forever.
Many of LeBron's critics point to this decision as a detractor to the impact of his legacy, specifically because of the following words: "Well, Jordan and Kobe didn't have to do that to get their rings."
The reason why Jordan and Kobe never uttered the words "I'm taking my talents to..." is because they were already in their own "South Beach."
What I mean is that Jordan and Kobe always had enough talent around them to win their championships.
During Jordan's title run in the first part of the '90s (1991,1992,1993), he had Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant holding down the fort. In his final three titles (1996,1997,1998), he still had Scottie Pippen, only this time he had another Hall of Famer on the roster in Dennis Rodman.
For each of Jordan's NBA titles, he had at least one other Hall of Fame player beside him holding down the hardwood. With Scottie Pippen, he actually had one of the NBA's top 50 players of all time beside him.
Now onto the Black Mamba.
During Kobe Bryant's first three NBA titles (2000, 2001 and 2002), he had that little-known center named Shaquille O'Neal leading the way, and he had a veteran point guard and possible Hall of Famer, Derek Fisher, holding down the point.
After Kobe couldn't figure out how to share the spotlight, he led the Lakers to back-to-back titles (2009 and 2010) with another potential Hall of Famer, Pau Gasol, and a little help in 2010 from the man with the "fro", Andrew Bynum.
The point is, when you look at the talent both Jordan and Kobe had around them during their championships, it's not that dissimilar from LeBron and the crew he has in Miami.
Jordan's Supporting Cast Combined Per-Game Stats:
Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant (1991 to 1993)—32.5 PPG, 16.8 RPG, 9.0 APG, 52.2 FG%
Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman (1996-1998)—24.9 PPG, 21.5 RPG, 8.6 APG, 45.8 FG%
Kobe's Supporting Cast Combined Per-Game Stats:
Shaquille O'Neal and Derek Fisher (2000 to 2002)—37.6 PPG, 14.5 RPG, 6.4 APG, 48.2 FG%
Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum (2009 and 2010)—33.3 PPG, 18.6 RPG, 4.6 APG, 55.9 FG%
LeBron's Supporting Cast Combined Per-Game Stats:
As you can see, the disparity between production from LeBron's next biggest supporters and those of Kobe and Jordan's supporting cast isn't that great.
Sure, the help that LeBron gets from Wade and Bosh differs from the help that Jordan and Kobe got from guys like Grant, Rodman, Gasol and Bynum, but it's similar help nonetheless.
For Jordan, Rodman was more of a help on the defensive side of the ball and on the glass, which is something that LeBron has never had—either in Cleveland or Miami. And that's similar to the help that Kobe got from O'Neal, Gasol and Bynum.
Who has/had more help?
The point here is that while Jordan and Kobe never joined the competition by leaving their franchises to join top talent, that doesn't mean that they didn't have any help around them.
While the support was different, Jordan and Kobe had much of the same support that LeBron does now in Miami. Both Kobe and Jordan always had or have at least one Hall of Famer on the court with them, in addition to another potential Hall of Fame talent as well.
The argument that LeBron did something that Kobe or Jordan would've never does just isn't realistic. Kobe and Jordan had the help that LeBron does now; the only difference is that Kobe or Jordan didn't leave to go get it.
As LeBron continues to win NBA titles, this point will become less and less significant, but in reality, "taking his talents to South Beach" was just his way of leveling the playing field and getting the talent that Jordan and Kobe always had during their championship runs.
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