Michael Jordan: NBA Legends Put LeBron James In His Place

Peter LomuscioCorrespondent IJuly 27, 2010

GREENWICH, CT - JULY 08:  LeBron James speaks at the LeBron James announcement of his future NBA plans at the Boys & Girls Club of America on July 8, 2010 in Greenwich, Connecticut. James announced during a live broadcast on ESPN that he will play for the Miami Heat next season.  (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Estabrook Group)
Larry Busacca/Getty Images

It didn’t take the word of any NBA legend to prove how much of a cowardly, legacy-killing move it was for LeBron James to flee his home state of Ohio and the Cleveland Cavaliers to join up with fellow NBA superstar Dwyane Wade in Miami.

But it sure put the cherry on top.

With quotes from Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and Charles Barkley all out for the public to see, it adds more emphasis to the already pretty obvious assessment of LeBron James’ handling of his free agency.

Jordan said, “There’s no way, with hindsight, I would’ve ever called up Larry, called up Magic, and said ‘Hey look, let’s get together and play on one team. But that’s…things are different. I can’t say that’s a bad thing. It’s an opportunity these kids have today. In all honesty I was trying to beat those guys.”

This is Jordan once again living up to the reputation of being a true competitor—something that LeBron has lacked thus far in his career. When the going has gotten tough, LeBron has failed to measure up to his self-imposed royalty standard.

Magic Johnson chimed in with, “We didn’t think about it because that’s not what we were about. From college I was trying to figure out how to beat Larry Bird”

Magic clearly also couldn’t see himself making a move similar to LeBron’s. He accepted the challenge of his rivalry with Bird and used it to elevate his game throughout his career.

Larry Bird added, “There is no way I would have joined Magic or Michael and play with them. The only time I ever wanted to play with Magic was on the Olympic team, and even then our practices were hard, and we beat each other up in practice.”

Bird also gives off the feeling that he was constantly on a mission to be the best and beat the best, another sign of a strong competitor.

Even Charles Barkley responded.

“(Reggie) Miller and I are in 100% agreement on this," he said. "If you’re the two-time NBA MVP you don’t leave anywhere. They come to you. That’s ridiculous. LeBron will never be Jordan. This clearly takes him out of the conversation.

"He can win as much as he wants to. There would have been something honorable about staying in Cleveland and trying to win it as ‘The Man.’ LeBron if he would have won in Cleveland and if he could have got a championship there, it would have been over the top for his legacy, just one in Cleveland. No matter how many he wins in Miami, it clearly is Dwyane Wade’s team.”

Barkley was the hardest the decision, living up to his reputation in not shying away from sharing exactly how he feels. Barkley might not have the strongest standing, but he hit the nail right on the head with his quote.

If LeBron was “King James” and a legitimate threat to be one of the best basketball players of all-time, he needed to do it in Cleveland—or at the very least with a team where he was “the man”.

There are plenty of LeBron James supporters who are blowing off what these legends have to say, claiming they are bitter and rolling with the "LeBron is his own man," argument. But this makes absolutely no sense.

Yes, LeBron is his own man and he can choose to play where he wants and with whom he wants. But they must understand that there are consequences and conclusions that will be made directly from his actions.

When taking into account that he called himself “King James” before he ever stepped foot into the NBA and the fact he wore number 23, he can thank himself for a lot of the hype and high expectations. The rest of the credit can go to ESPN and its ability to feed spectators with constant brainwashing highlights and praise on a daily basis, no matter the result.

As silly as it may sound, the two-time MVP has already failed miserably in his attempt to meet the expectations of his NBA career, despite the fact that it is far from over.

James' ego has reached an absurd level. There is no doubt that he believed he could be the best ever to play the game, and knowing his cocky mindset he might even have thought he already achieved it in his years in Cleveland.

It is no surprise to see LeBron walk around in the offseason rotating “Check My Stats” and “MVP” t-shirts in his wardrobe for the public to see, because this guy really thinks that everything that has gone wrong in his career thus far has been someone else’s fault. He has grown so accustomed to everyone constantly servicing him and providing excuse after excuse for him in times of failure that he really believes that he has never been to blame for Cleveland’s postseason eliminations.

LeBron has constantly not been able to take his team to the next level in the postseason, where he seems to fold under pressure the most. In his eyes this has always been due to the fact of his “lack of a supporting cast,” which is a moronic excuse that will only be tolerated by the ‘witnesses”.

No one is saying that his teammates have been elite and an unstoppable force, but at the same time a player held in such a high standing among his peers, and one that has been compared to the greatest of the greats, could have easily taken at least one of his squads to the "Promised Land" with proper execution.

“The Decision” is further proof of James’ demonstrative ego and lack of good character and judgment. He seems to believe that the world revolves around him and that he was a blessing to the city of Cleveland—that they should have just been thankful that he gave them seven years of his career.

He obviously didn’t feel the need to return any gratefulness, as he chose to not only ditch his Ohio native team but to announce his decision in secretive fashion on Primetime television in an hour-long special on ESPN without as much as a phone call to the Cavaliers.

Apparently this was too much to ask of LeBron, because if he were to call the Cavs and let them know of his departure his decision would have lost its secrecy.


James was focused on making this whole day and night “About Me,” as opposed to what the whole offseason was I guess. In turn, the Cavaliers and their fan base were betrayed and disrespected on a whole new level thanks to James.

Team owner Dan Gilbert didn’t stand for it, as he retaliated with an extremely emotional letter addressing the former Cleveland superstar. The letter called out LeBron for his narcissistic, cowardly “decision,” chastising him not only for his choice but the stage he created to make his “decision”.

Gilbert also mentioned claims that James had quit in the postseason series against the Boston Celtics, in which the Cavs were eliminated in six games. This may be up for debate amongst the viewers, but anyone who knows and watches basketball can easily view it as a legitimate theory.

Just staring at his stats it may seem absurd, but watching James in the past postseason it certainly seems feasible that he mailed it in when it mattered the most, on more than one occasion.

It is also likely that he dragged all Cleveland supporters along these past two years with full intention of ditching the Cavs since the Olympics. James and Wade probably giggled like schoolgirls together at the thought of joining forces, and throw in a legitimate top five big man in the league like Chris Bosh and they assumed that they would be unstoppable.

Even though they planned it out in their heads, it was still on Pat Riley to execute the dream. But once the offseason began for the three parties involved there was no doubts in LeBron’s head about where he was going to play.

LeBron had no interest in bringing his team to the top and conquering whatever obstacles or challenges he met along the way. His main concern has been to grow his supposed "brand" internationally and become a billionaire.

Little does he know he is going about this mission in a completely mistaken way.

Michael Jordan proved himself and earned his reputation on the court as a competitor and a champion before he branched himself into an international industry. LeBron, on the other hand, is like one of those celebrities on TV that are famous for no reason. He thinks because he was handed a crown that he can just live off of that for the rest of his career and become an International icon for the years to come.

But he is sadly misguided.

He has been fed more compliments and hype than any other athlete in sports history for someone who has never won a championship. Now he claims he would rather be compared to Magic than Jordan because inside he has conceded to the truth and the fact that he can’t live up to the hype and even sniff the Jordan level—or even the Kobe level for that matter.

So anyone who thinks LeBron's decision is just another basic business move that any athlete would have made can only be described in one way: delusional.