ESPN.com is reporting that LeBron James, who currently leads Kevin Durant by a fraction of a point for the NBA scoring title, declared that he doesn't care if he wins it or not. What he cares about is what the team achieves, James said.
And then, almost as an afterthought, he added, "If I really wanted to, if I really wanted to be the scoring [champion] every single year—every single year— I could really do it. But it doesn't matter."
Of course that comment made the LeBron haters go nuts, as you can see from these responses .
Two quick things: does anyone really doubt that what LeBron says isn't true?
I watch every Cavs game, and ALL THE TIME I see games in which LeBron, for whole quarters, seems content simply to set up his teammates and get them going. He routinely becomes a pass-first player for large stretches of games, AND THEN finishes the game with 30 points.
Does anyone really think that if LeBron set his sights on, let's say scoring 40 per game, he couldn't do it? He could do it easily.
BUT, and here's the second thing, he doesn't care. He wants to win. He wants the Cavs to be the best team they can be. He wants his teammates to thrive. What is so difficult to understand there?
Maybe LeBron should have phrased it more carefully, but people are making comments on ESPN suggesting that this is evidence that LeBron is all about himself—IT'S JUST THE OPPOSITE.
Since high school, LeBron has always been as excited about his teammates' accomplishments as his own, and I really think that the thrill of winning, for him, is about what he gets to share with a group of close friends.
I actually think this goes back to his childhood. He had no father, and there were nights when his mother didn't make it home and he didn't know where she was. More than any player I can recall, LeBron's teams are his family. What is there not to get here?
I don't want to get into the stupid Kobe vs. LeBron thing here—let me just say that I try as much as possible to catch the Lakers games as well, and I marvel at Kobe every time—but a revealing comparison struck me just a couple of days ago.
Here are the two things that emerged in the news about Kobe's and LeBron's summers.
Kobe contacted the great Hakeem Olajuwon and worked out with him with the idea of improving his post moves, learning from perhaps the most brilliant post move artist ever. That's what I heard about Kobe.
This is what I heard about LeBron: He took untested (soon to be) second-year player J.J. Hickson aside and said, more or less, "You're spending the summer with me. We're going to work out together—you're going to see my approach and follow my example. More than that, you're going to spend time with my family, see how I conduct myself off the court, etc., and see that reaching the top means you have to be reliable and stable off the court."
When I heard about Kobe's work outs with Hakeem, I was a little miffed at LeBron. Why didn't he think of that? Everyone knows LeBron could stand to improve his post moves.
But on the other hand, if you haven't seen Hickson's play this season (you ought to) he has become a devastating finisher at the rim. He regularly makes big contributions, including 20 points the other night against New Orleans.
Is it not telling, at least a bit, that the summer story about Kobe involves him improving his own game, and that the summer story about LeBron involves him bringing a teammate along and helping him to get better?
Look, I wouldn't make too much of it, especially for anyone looking to bash Kobe (which I'm not), but it is suggestive of what matters to LeBron.
Is he arrogant for admitting that he could win scoring titles every year? I don't think so. I know I would like to seem him edge out Durant for the scoring title, if only so that I won't have to listen to the latest bandwagon folks arguing that Durant winning it proves he's the best.
And it's maybe a little frustrating for me that I know—as well as I know anything—that LeBron just doesn't care. I very much doubt he checks the box scores to see how much Durant scored. He has his eyes on a very different prize. Why do people not get that?