Maybe Skip Bayless was right. Maybe we anointed LeBron James "King James" before he was ready to take the throne. Maybe the Sports Illustrated article entitled, "The Chosen One" before his junior year at St. Vincent-St. Mary's was a little too soon. Maybe holding the McDonald's All-Star High School Game at the Gund Arena in Cleveland made him feel like everything would just come to him, and he had already proved to everyone what he was capable of.
This article is not meant to bash LeBron, because he has been (and will continue to be) my favorite player. Maybe this article is something I needed to cleanse my soul with, to finally realize that the vision of what I know he can become has not actually translated into what he is.
Michael Jordan is universally considered the best player in NBA History, and what stands out most about MJ was his killer instinct when he smelled blood. MJ could feel what an opponent fears, and exposed them night after night for the whole world to see. Kobe Bryant has that killer instinct too, and whether you like him or not, he is in my opinion the closest thing to Michael in terms of ripping out an opponent's heart on the court and ruining an opponent's will to compete.
So what about LeBron? Does he possess that instinct? I think he does, but I think he honestly cares too much about what people think to show it consistently enough.
Michael and Kobe are universally regarded as two of the greatest ever, but there are endless stories of them riding their teammates to no end, or of being so competitive it alienates teammates, or being accused of being too selfish in terms of shot selection. LeBron has never been that way.
Remember Game 1 of the ECF in 2007 against Detroit? With the game on the line, LeBron passed up a shot to a wide open Donyell Marshall, who missed the three that would have won the game. Basketball wise, it was the right move, but do you think Kobe or MJ would have passed that ball? No.
How about Game 3 of the NBA Finals against San Antonio? Lebron passed up a chance to tie the game to an open but limited offensively Anderson Varejo, who missed the shot and the Spurs went on to sweep.
LeBron has a high basketball IQ, and he generally makes the right decisions on the floor. But basketball is more than just following the game plan. It's about following the instincts of your superstar.
You know how many calls Phil Jackson has made to run a specific play and either Kobe or MJ get on the floor and say, "Give me the ball and get the hell outta my way."
What I mean, is that once LeBron starts taking the initiative to take and make the big shots consistently, then his teammates will follow suit. The situation will become LeBron trusting his teammates, as opposed to bailing out the team. Before Paxson and Kerr made big shots, or even D-Fish and Horry, MJ and Kobe had hit several game winners to make the opposing defense wary of them.
The point of this article is that we have handed LeBron the keys to the car without waiting for him to get his drivers license. Nationally televised games in high school, big money endorsement deals, and a league that has promoted him as its savior without asking him to prove he could save it.
He has been in the league for seven seasons, and every year the excuses for why he didn't win a title continue to grow. I will be the first to admit that I have been at the front of the line in this category, but now it's do or die time.
Maybe he needs to hear the criticisms that Kobe heard when it was stated that "he couldn't do it without Shaq" or how MJ "couldn't come back from retirement and reclaim his spot at the top of the mountain."
LeBron is surrounded by the best supporting cast of his career and without at least a trip to the NBA Finals this year, other LeBron supporters and I will finally have to admit we may be a "Witness" to a dream that may never come true.