Ever since LeBron James made his much maligned choice of "South Beach" over his hometown team, he has taken a critical beatdown not seen in sports since the Michael Vick dog fighting trial.
He's been called a whiner, a loser, a quitter when things got bad, and disloyal to the team that drafted him.
But the most extreme charge, the one that has lit the sports blogs aflame, is the one contending that for all his great talent, skills, and abilities, he is overrated.
Some have come out and completely dismissed the claim as mere LeBron bashing, but I want to just say for the record right now that the charge is correct.
Yes, LeBron James and his 29 points, 8 assists, and 8 rebounds, is clearly not that good, even though you would have to look back at Hall-of-Fame players like Larry Bird and Oscar Robertson to find any player with comparable numbers, I'm sure it's just the result of stats padding which LeBron has clearly perfected.
Sure, he was in the NBA Finals in 2007, but that was the result of his teammates carrying HIM to the finals, not the other way around.
That was Larry Hughes and Daniel Gibson's team. They were the All-Stars that made that team work. I vividly remember Gibson going for 25 points in a fourth quarter against the Detroit Pistons in the Conference Finals, while LeBron just stood there scared and said, "Guys, you bail me out, because I never produce in the fourth quarter."
And contrary to what the LeBron lovers will claim, that 2007 team WAS a great team. Seriously, if James can't win with Hall-of-Fame caliber talent like Ira Newble and Eric Snow, who can he win with? Dwyane Wade? Ha.
Then there was his monumental collapse in game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. lt was a startling display that exposed him for the over hyped, marketing first-win second player he is.
I mean, he saw that his teammates Antawn Jamison and Mo Williams were being abused defensively and offensively by the Celtics' Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo respectively, holding them to nine points apiece while outscoring them by 16, but that's why LeBron is not a great player: He didn't step up to the challenge like Michael Jordan would have.
If he was like Michael or Kobe, he would said, "Well, my teammates aren't helping me, so what I need to do is score 60 points and defend the entire Celtic frontline and backcourt myself for us to win. I welcome the challenge!"
But instead, LeBron let Boston's defense dig in when his teammates went cold and only shot 3-14 scoring 15 points.
Fifteen points! With only five Celtics players guarding him?!?!? Clearly he choked in that game and his team lost as a result.
That series was all the more disappointing when you consider his meager numbers: 26 points, 7 assists, and 9 rebounds per game.
These are clearly not winning player stats and on the other end, his porous defense only held Paul Pierce to five points below his season average (18.3-13.5). If LeBron was a TRULY great player, Pierce would not have scored a single basket in the series.
Oh, and don't even get me started on that series last year with the Orlando Magic, when his Cleveland Cavaliers owned the league's best record and home court advantage throughout the playoffs. LeBron once again failed to deliver in a big series.
He averaged 38.5 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 7.2 assists in the series—loser numbers for sure—but I want to talk about how hard his teammates worked to get him over the hump and how once again he failed.
Mo Williams, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, and Delonte West had the decency to be thoroughly dominated by Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis, and Rafer Alston just to give LeBron the spotlight and let him win the series by himself and he STILL couldn't get it done.
Instead of going to the media and trashing his teammates like the great players would do, LeBron had to "encourage" his teammates and keep passing the ball to them to raise their confidence even though they continued to flounder and still attempted to allow him to win the series alone.
It sounds to me like his teammates were the real unselfish ones here while LeBron, regardless of his seven assists a game, is all about shooting and scoring rather than making others better.
But perhaps the biggest difference between LeBron and a guy like Kobe Bryant is that Kobe knew what to do when he came in the league out of high school.
Kobe learned and grew under players like Shaquille O'Neal, Nick Van Exel, and the coaching of Hall of Famer Phil Jackson. When he took over the team as its primary option in his ninth year, he was ready to carry them to...well, two first round exits. But he grew into a champion that proved he could win with an All-Star caliber seven-footer on his team.
LeBron on the other hand, being the overrated loser he is, had to lead a team to relevance right out of high school with more pressure and hype than any player his age had ever endured before or since and couldn't win a title without an All-Star caliber second option in his prime beside him.
Although Michael, Magic, Bird, Kareem, Kobe, and Julius Irving all had All-Star caliber talent around them when they won their titles, for LeBron to be considered the best, he has to win a title ALONE, instead of trying to win with other great players like his move to Miami with Chris Bosh and Wade.
If he wanted to be considered "The Chosen One," he should have tried to prove that his greatness transcends his teammates lack of defensive intensity and consistent offense in the playoffs.
But no, he had to take the easy way out by playing with other great players.
So yes, LeBron James is overrated and deserves to be treated as such, because we all know basketball is an individual game—not a team game—and the best player with the most scrubs always wins.
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