Is Kobe Bryant, Not LeBron James, The Biggest Quitter in The NBA?

Buckus ToothnailContributor IIIAugust 11, 2010

LOS ANGELES - JANUARY 27:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers and LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers sit on the floor after falling during play at Staples Center January 27, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. The Cavaliers won 98-95.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

After this past season's playoffs and this summer's free agency signing, LeBron James has garnered the reputation of being a "quitter".  Rather than "King James", LeBron is now most often referred to as "LeQuit" by fans on Internet forums, comments and blogs.  But is LeQuit really a quitter?


Many people, including the Cavaliers' majority owner, Dan Gilbert, point to LeBron's performance during the Cavs' Eastern Conference Semifinals series against the Boston Celtics in the NBA playoffs as evidence of LeBron quitting.


In Game 5 of that series, LeBron scored an embarrassing 15 points on 3-14 shooting, shot 0-4 in three-pointers, and grabbed a paltry 6 rebounds.  His 7 assists weren't enough to make up for his poor shooting and three turnovers, and the Cavs lost the game by 32 points, their worst home playoff loss in history.


But given that LeBron didn't make his first field goal until the third quarter, it can be argued that rather than quitting, LeBron simply had an awful "off-night".  Quitting means giving up at a point in the game when your team no longer has a chance to win.  LeBron was terrible in the game from the beginning.  Unless the accusation is LeBron quit in the game when the score was 0-0, LeBron's performance suggests that he simply had a bad game. 


LeBron is also accused of quitting in Game 6 of the series, which the Cavs lost by 9 points and were eliminated from the playoffs.


This is the accusation that confounds the most.  LeBron scored 27 points, grabbed 19 rebounds and dished 10 assists on 8-21 shooting and 2-4 three-point shooting in that game, achieving a triple-double.  How is that "quitting"?


Yes, he committed 9 turnovers, but this was more of a result of the Celtics' unrelenting defensive pressure on him, given that he was the focal point of the Cavs offense, and received very little help from his teammates in that game.


In comparison, Kobe Bryant had 23 points, 15 rebounds and 2 assists on 6-24 shooting, and zero for 6 three-point shooting in Game 7 against a weaker Celtics team without an injured Kendrick Perkins in the NBA Finals.


The difference? The Lakers won because the rest of the team showed up.  Pau Gasol had 19 points, 18 rebounds, 6-16 shooting, no 3 point attempts, and 7-13 free-throw shooting.


What did the Cavs have? Antawn Jamison's 5 points, 5 rebounds, 2-10 shooting, 0-3 three-pointers, and 1-2 free-throw shooting. Yes, Gasol, normally considered "soft", was even aggressively attacking the basket and was rewarded with free throws.  The Cavs just stood around waiting for LeBron to make plays.


Let's not forget, it was Mo Williams who didn't call a timeout and was dribbling out the clock the final minute of the game. Why does he get a free pass? And why didn't coach Mike Brown call a timeout in their last possessions?


The reality is the whole Cavaliers team quit against the Celtics, except possibly LeBron who put up one of the best playoff lines ever in Cavs history. And the only reason why the Cavs were still in the game in the 4th quarter is because of LeBron.


And to put it into more perspective, Dwight Howard played much worse than LeBron in the Magic series against the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals. After Game 3, the Magic were down 0-3 while the Cavs were up 2-1. So did Dwight Howard quit? Why is he getting a free pass? Or better yet, why isn't Orlando accusing him of quitting?  Could it be because neither Howard or LeBron quit?


Do you want to know what "quitting" in the playoffs is? Quitting is Kobe Bryant in 2006. That year, the Lakers were up 3-1 against the Suns in the first round of the playoffs. Despite scoring 50 points in Game 6, they still lost which opened up criticism of Kobe of being a "ball-hog" and not trusting his teammates.  Kobe responded in the series critical Game 7 by putting up a total of 16 shots, including only 3 shots in the 2nd half, and scoring one point. The result was a 31 point blow-out loss to the Suns in Game 7.


Yes, Kobe quit. That's a fact and everyone that watched that series except for the most in-denial Lakers fans remember this. So why isn't Kobe called out as a "quitter"?


That's because Kobe has since redeemed himself to the tune of a league MVP award and two back-to-back championships.  But despite these accomplishments, Kobe was once a "quitter" in the playoffs.


The fact is, LeBron was a tremendous basketball player for the Cavs for seven years, taking them to their one and only Finals appearance in 2007, bringing them the best record two season in a row, as well as back-to-back league MVP awards. I'm sorry, but you can't achieve those accomplishments as a "quitter".


The reality is all this "quitter" stuff came out only after he signed with the Heat.  Before that, Cleveland was making songs and videos begging "Please stay LeBron, Cleveland really needs you". So they needed a quitter?


Of course not, because if LeBron stayed, no one would think he was a quitter. Please are only calling him a "quitter" now because he's no longer a Cavalier, which makes the accusation not only baseless, but dishonest.


So by virtue of being a bigger "quitter" than LeBron James, is Kobe Bryant the biggest "quitter" in the NBA?  Ask yourself that the next time you want to accuse LeBron of "quitting".


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