LeBron James: Six Players the King Will Never Surpass
LeBron James is going to be the richest athlete in professional sports. He is going to party on South Beach, and he may even win a championship.
But we now know that LeBron will never be the greatest player of all time. LeBron is no leader. He can't make the players around him better, he doesn't take ownership of his team's fate, and he isn't capable of perseverance.
That's fine. Frankly, I think most people are probably pleased that the legacies of these six men are safe.
Because they were men and LeBron is a child.
6. Kobe Bryant
You think it was easy for Kobe to stand by during the post-Shaq Era and not go to the playoffs while Shaq won a championship in Miami?
You think it was easy helping the Lakers claw all the way back to contention?
But Kobe wanted to be the guy—the whole reason Shaquille O'Neal left Los Angeles is because Kobe wanted to be the man.
If LeBron James wanted to be the man, he would have never agreed to go play alongside another Alpha Dog superstar in the city of that superstar's choosing.
Kobe would have never done that. And Kobe is better for it.
5. Tim Duncan
Here's are the skills you learn from Tim Duncan—consummate professionalism mixed with ninja-consistency and stick-to-it-tiveness.
Duncan is the only superstar ever to win four non-consecutive NBA Titles because Duncan kept bringing his team back after letdowns and setbacks.
And Duncan has done it with many players who were inferior to the supposedly poor "supporting cast" LeBron had in Cleveland.
4. Larry Bird
Bird would absolutely kill and would always find a way to win. What is so rarely said about Larry Bird is that he could be a dirty player when necessary.
He could also go on fire and encourage his team to a must-win victory.
Doesn't sound like anyone I know who just announced he was signing with the Miami Heat yesterday.
3. Magic Johnson
What is the lesson we learn from Magic Johnson?
When you have a once-in-a-lifetime talent, you have to make the most of it.
Magic could make full-court bounce passes that hit his teammates in stride. He could play center in the NBA Finals and dominate. He could get in the low post, and he could rebound.
The historical player that LeBron James most physically resembles is not Jordan, Pippen, or Kobe, but rather Magic. LeBron has all the skills Magic had.
Maybe the King just doesn't have the heart.
2. Bill Russell
Between Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain, which player was the more physically gifted?
Easy—that would be Chamberlain.
Come playoff time, which player always came away with the hardware?
Easy again—that would be Russell.
From Russell we learned the lessons of leadership and being a workman when it would be much easier to be a flashy superstar.
Russell invented the rebound-outlet pass, and it was Russell who first discovered that if you block a shot out of bounds, the other team gets the ball back, but if you block it down the court, you create a fast break.
What has LeBron taught us in Cleveland that Russell would be proud of?
1. Michael Jordan
LeBron may win a championship or two in Miami, but he will officially never be Michael Jordan.
Because he didn't dance with the girl who brought him; he didn't engage in trench warfare, fighting to get better and overcome the teams that stood between him and a championship; and he didn't make the players around him better.
Once you got into Michael Jordan's cross-hairs, he would just as soon kill you as be friends with you.
Jordan would not have gotten buddy-buddy with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade in China and vowed to play with them.
He would have vowed to destroy them.
And that is why LeBron will never be Michael Jordan.
Or anything close.