The Myth of LeBron James: Is the King Overrated?

Jason DouglasContributor IISeptember 18, 2010

MIAMI - JULY 09:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat talks during a press conference after a welcome party at American Airlines Arena on July 9, 2010 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
Doug Benc/Getty Images

Before you email me telling me I must be crazy, hear me out. We all know that LeBron is a beast. He's already one of the greatest players ever and he's only 25.

He's got two MVPs and has been named to the All-Star team seven times. His career averages of 27.8 ppg, 7.0 apg, and 7.1 rpg are some of the best ever.

And with Miami, he'll have the chance to average a triple-double, something that's only been done once by Oscar Robertson back in 1961-62.

With all this praise, how is it possible that LBJ is overrated. Let's examine this a bit.

First, we need to understand that great players can be overrated too. Clyde Drexler was a great player for a lot of years, but let's face it; he was a lot closer to third than he was to first (i.e. Michael Jordan).

It's easy to become enamored by a player of LeBron's skill level because we've never seen an athlete like him before in the NBA. I think he could easily switch sports and be successful in the NFL.

Where I think LeBron is overrated is when he's mentioned in the same breath with guys like Jordan and Kobe. Where those two guys differ from King James is "will to win."

Jordan was an absolute killer. He'd step on your throat to win. Kobe is a killer too. He wants to win so bad that he doesn't let anything else deter him.

Did you see Kobe during the playoffs last year? He didn't smile for the entire playoffs. He was all business until the task was done.

Bron doesn't have that yet. And while he deserves props for becoming a very good defensive player, he's still not on the Jordan or Kobe level yet. 

Let's look at the teams these guys played on. Initially, Kobe only won with Shaq. When Shaq left, he needed some time (and some better players) to get over the hump.

The Lakers are stacked now, so Kobe has a lot of help. As great as Jordan was, he still needed Scottie Pippen. The rest of the team was made up of role players essentially.

That Bulls team that won 72 games not only knew how to play together as a unit but they knew when and how to defer when it was Mike's time to take over.

I never got the sense that Cleveland knew when to take their own shots and when to defer. Everything ran through LeBron. 

I don't have a problem with LeBron leaving Cleveland for Miami. He gave the Cavs seven years and a lot of memories. They wouldn't have sniffed the playoffs without him, and probably won't again for a while.

But I could never see Kobe or Jordan leaving to join some dream team of players. These guys didn't subscribe to the "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" mentality. They wanted to beat the best. It meant more.

That's why I think Kevin Garnett deserves so much credit for staying loyal to Minnesota for so long. For that team to reach the Western Conference finals, KG deserves a ton of credit. 

I wonder if LeBron will end up like those great players that never win it all. Those transcendent stars who, because of their individual brilliance, are unable to eclipse themselves for the good of the team.

Miami will certainly be formidable this season. Barring injury, I think they have a realistic shot at breaking the Bulls all-time win record at 72-10 (I'll analyze this in a later post).

But I wonder if LeBron has done himself a disservice. Even if Miami wins five rings, he'll always have one fewer than Dwyane Wade.

D-Wade will always be seen in a more positive light because he stayed with the team that drafted him.

On an all-time level, it's possible this move elevates Dwyane Wade ahead of him. And this is if they WIN!

If they lose...the backlash will be horrific. The media will say that he got his just desserts for leaving Cleveland the way he did.

Unless Miami runs off a string of multiple championships, I think LeBron may be viewed as a failure; the classic example of "what could have been," if only he'd stayed in Cleveland.