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When Kobe came into the league, he wanted to strut his stuff and show off with what he believed to be his unrivaled individual talents. He was still an adolescent and he acted that way. He was not known as the greatest team player, but there was no question he was a tremendous shooter and finisher, an acrobat around the basket and just about impossible to guard. (Sound familiar, MJ?)
But, as time went by and one championship became three, then four and five, and with them a nearly insatiable desire to win even more, Kobe honed his all-around game and became more of a team player.
Yes, he had Shaq to create space and fear in the middle, and they played off of each other flawlessly.
When Shaq finally left the Lakers, it became Kobe’s team and he rose to the occasion, learning how to setup his teammates, passing better and choosing the right moments to take over the game. He actually took on some of his famous Coach’s inner beauty and brought a Zen to his game and a calm to his team that was imperative as the games became more important leading up to the playoffs and the Championship series.
Meanwhile, LeBron has shown little in the way of knowing what a true leader is all about. The self-anointed "King" James is but a self-centered monarch on the court.
Yes, he may be a great passer, often compared to Magic Johnson, but he is nowhere near the quarterback of the team that Magic was. What is worse, he has this penchant for wanting to—needing to—make the final shot at the buzzer to win the game rather than set up a fellow teammate who may be more open for the shot (only once this season did he pass up the ball in a crucial moment to Eddie House, and yes, House converted).
James brought a highly effective team to Boston last year, a team with the best record in the NBA, an overachieving team, no doubt, but one that could have pulled together to beat the Celtics. Yet he seemingly quit on his team when times got difficult.
That is not something Kobe would ever be accused of because that is not how a leader acts.