Why LeBron James Is Not in Kobe Bryant's League

Nick Gelso@CLNS_NickCorrespondent IMay 28, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 27:  (L-R) Kobe Bryant #24 and Shannon Brown #12 of the Los Angeles Lakers look on in the fourth quarter against the Denver Nuggets in Game Five of the Western Conference Finals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 27, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Kobe Bryant admittedly took a risk and changed his approach in game five of the Western Conference Finals Wednesday night.

"It was a gamble coming in, but I wanted to change my approach this game and be more of a decoy," said Bryant to the Associated Press. "The last couple games they really were loading to my side and I figured I could be a decoy and try to give chances to my teammates."

Bryant's approach definitely proved effective, as the Lakers won 103-94, taking a 3-2 lead back to Denver for game six.

What's more impressive than Kobe Bryant's eight assists was the trust he had in his much criticized teammates Paul Gasol and Lamar Odom.

Odom and Gasol combined for 33 points and 24 rebounds. Gasol and Odom's "Shaquille O'Neal-like" numbers reminded me of the "three-peat" years" and how much the Lakers miss the big fella'.

The re-emergence of Odom has left some people pondering why he is so inconsistent and how great LA could be if his intensity was always 100 percent.

Carmelo Anthony scored 31 points and hit 12-13 free throws for Denver, who kept the game even through three quarters. Chauncey Billups and Kenyon Martin chipped in with 12 points each.

The Lakers started the fourth with an 11-0 run. The Nuggets made one major punch that got them within four points, 93-89. LA then took control, outscoring the Nuggets 27-18 in the fourth quarter.

Denver resorted to late game turnovers and too many three-point attempts.

The Lakers improved to 20-0 in game fives when the series is tied 2-2.

Kobe Bryant showed why he is still in a league of his own.

He made his teammates better, attempted less shots, and scored fewer points as Los Angeles beat Denver in championship style.

The media is continually discussing LeBron's lack of supporting cast. There is no doubt that Mo Williams and company have become the invisible men in the Eastern Conference Finals, but isn't it up to LeBron to get these guys involved?

LeBron is not "taking the risk" to trust his teammates the way Kobe "took the risk" by playing "decoy." He had faith in his teammates and in game five, and it paid off.

The media has also played defense attorney for LeBron by describing him as fatigued.

Let's face it, the Cavs swept the first two rounds of the playoffs. They have played five fewer games than Orlando and 240 fewer minutes. LeBron should not be fatigued.

As Kobe proved in game five, putting your team on your shoulders does not always mean scoring 40-plus points. Sometimes it just means having a little trust in your teammates and getting them more involved.

LeBron is averaging 42 points per game in the Eastern Conference Finals and Cleveland is down 3-1.

Is it now time for LeBron to "change his approach"?


    Report: Ayton, Bagley 'Locked In' as 1-2 Picks

    NBA logo

    Report: Ayton, Bagley 'Locked In' as 1-2 Picks

    Rob Goldberg
    via Bleacher Report

    Report: Spurs 'Shut the Door' on Lakers

    NBA logo

    Report: Spurs 'Shut the Door' on Lakers

    Tyler Conway
    via Bleacher Report

    Lakers Held Private Workout with Jalen Brunson

    Los Angeles Lakers logo
    Los Angeles Lakers

    Lakers Held Private Workout with Jalen Brunson

    Corey Hansford
    via Lakers Nation

    Woj: Denver No Longer Looking to Jump into High Lottery Range

    Denver Nuggets logo
    Denver Nuggets

    Woj: Denver No Longer Looking to Jump into High Lottery Range

    Denver Stiffs
    via Denver Stiffs