Feature Columnist, Jeremiah Short
I want to start this column with an admission: I’m the president of the LeBron James fan club.
The “Chosen One” is the best player since Michael Jordan. It’s not even a real debate. He’s the consummate leader, a social activist, a perennial All-Star, a four-time MVP and has won two NBA championships. With those credentials, James could retire today and be considered a top-5…maybe top-3 player of all-time.
James recent behavior on social media, though, is beneath a player of his stature, and he needs to check himself.
All great leaders have a different approach. Tim Duncan is quiet and stoic…leading by example. Shaq was fun-loving but had an intimidating presence. Kobe is forceful and requires his teammates to get on his level or else. Jordan was a “killer”, but he knew how to delegate when necessary. Magic had the ability to takeover, but he preferred his teammates to be a part of the process.
LeBron is like Magic. He doesn’t need all the credit for the team’s achievements. He doesn’t mind delegating and allowing others to take the lead. His approach is criticized, but it’s effective. Five straight NBA Finals appearances confirm that it works.
Where LeBron fails, at times, is forgetting that he’s 6’9, 270-pounds and the most gifted NBA player of all-time. He does have the ability to impose his will. Detroit in 2007 and San Antonio in 2013 are examples. His performance in last year’s Finals: 35.8 points per game, 13.3 rebounds per game and 8.8 assist per game is another example.
The Cleveland Cavaliers came up short in that series. But it had nothing to do with James. They, as James opined, “ran out of talent.” Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, the Cavs second and third options, were sidelined with separate injuries.
Even with Irving and Love sidelined, James almost beat the Warriors going one on five. That’s how great he is.
Irving and Love are healthy now, though. His team acquired a solid stretch big–Channing Frye. And, albeit controversial, the Cavs management fired David Blatt, a European import, and replaced him with a more competent Tyronn Lue.
Nothing is standing in the way of another NBA Finals appearance for James. The Eastern Conference is stronger( maybe stronger than the Western Conference for a change), but no team is strong enough to give the Cavs reasonable resistance.
I would never begrudge someone from wanting to reach another level, even if you’re already at a high-level. There’s still a way you go about it. And LeBron is going about it wrong.
I can live with a great player telling the media that he won’t be satisfied until they bring home an NBA championship. I don’t even mind a great player saying that he plans to win not one, not two, not three NBA Championships.
What I can’t live with is a great player engaging in Tweef with his own teammate. What I can’t live with is a great player unfollowing his team on Social Media and then refusing to answer questions about it (Really, bruh?). What I really can’t live with is a great player openly discussing joining up with his “Brotherhood” in the middle of the season.
I get James’ frustration. He wants to play with teammates on his level. He wants teammates who have the same level of urgency as him. Ultimately, he wants teammates that he can rely on to get the job done.
Throughout most of his career, James hasn’t had that guy who would bring it every night.
The other greats—the one’s James is compared to—had reliable second, third and sometimes fourth options.
Magic had Kareem, Big Game James and a couple other consistent role players. Kobe had Shaq and then Pau Gasol. Jordan had Pippen and Rodman. Not only did they have these other superstars, they had them most of their careers.
How good were these players without their sidekicks?
Jordan was 108-138 and 2-9 in the playoffs without Pippen. After Shaq was traded, Kobe didn’t make it out the first round until Pau Gasol showed up. We never got a real chance to see what Magic could do without another superstar in his prime. He had Kareem from day one and didn’t lose him until the end of his career.
LeBron hasn’t been as blessed. In his first Cavs run, his sidekick was Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Ok player but a third-tier one at best. He won titles with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. But Bosh has always been a little soft and Wade is always hurt. And now, he has to deal with two players–Irving and Love–who have to learn how to win on the NBA level.
I understand his frustration. He should have more NBA Championships. He has the opportunity to win more, though.
To win more, he’s going to have to step out of his comfort zone. He’s going to have to be more like Jordan and Kobe.
If his teammates won’t rise to the occasion, he needs to tell the organization to trade for players who will.
But first, he needs to stop crying.
Catch me as the host of “The Shop With J.Short On The Bachelor Pad Network.” Follow me on social media @DaRealJShort or check out my facebook page JShortJournalist or my Google Plus page J.Short- Journalist or follow me on Snapchat:JeremiahShort – See more at: http://www.locker-report.com/2015/12/01/the-pressure-of-being-black/#sthash.3ZbJNKfy.dpuf – See more at: http://www.locker-report.com/2016/02/06/lets-talk-about-rape-culture/#sthash.g49H2qLF.dpuf – See more at: http://www.locker-report.com/2016/02/14/beyonce-thank-you/#sthash.39G50RRe.dpuf – See more at: http://www.locker-report.com/2016/02/15/the-nfl-franchise-quarterback-why-is-there-a-double-standard/#sthash.jMe2DlE8.dpuf