We’ve got another 24+ hours until the Finals start and how have we spent our weekend? Piling on LeBron James for his comments in response to Scottie Pippen saying he may be better than Michael Jordan. Now, LeBron has done a number of things in the past year that have caused me to roll my eyes, but come on, guys — how about we let the man breathe a bit, yeah?
Whenever Michael’s legacy is mentioned, people tend to freak out. Understandable, but what did LeBron say that forced people to take up arms?
Via CBSSports.com, here’s what LeBron had to say:
“Mike was an unbelievable player. I got a long way, long way to be mentioned as one of the all-time greats. Not even just Jordan – there are a lot of great players who have played in this league: Larry Bird, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and all these guys that are floating around with multiple rings. Bill Russell. All of these guys who have pioneered the game for me and Dwyane Wade.”
“I’m gracious, humbled by Scottie’s comments with him being a teammate of his and seeing Michael on a day-to-day basis. But as far as me? I don’t know. I’m not going to sit here and say I’m better than Jordan or if I’m not better than Jordan. It’s not about that.”
I didn’t have a problem with these comments. At all. LeBron didn’t tell anyone he thought he was better than Michael Jordan. In fact, he explicitly refused to partake in any self-congratulatory posturing…though he managed to do so without completely quelling the possibility of his own future prominence.
Would we prefer that James be facetious? That he not be even remotely convinced of his own talent? He’s been touted as having Greatest-of-all-Time potential since he was in junior high. He was The Chosen One. Before he had accomplished anything professionally, he had been publicly ordained on the cover of Sports Illustrated and in ESPN broadcasts.
Think about that for a minute. LeBron’s 26 years old. He’s had scouts, coaches and journalists salivate over his talent since he was 15 years old. That’s almost half of his entire lifetime being told he could finish as the greatest to play the game.
Maybe he merely believed us when we raved and fawned over his athleticism and physical attributes. Is that so wrong? As a competitor, if he doesn’t believe he can one day be the best, isn’t he almost doing his own part to guarantee that he won’t become it? LeBron said he’s got a long way to go before he can be mentioned alongside Jordan and other greats of the game. He said he was humbled by Pippen’s praise. What more do we need? We say we want honestly and yet when we get even a semi-authentic response that isn’t exactly what we want to hear, we often get angry.
Is LeBron better than MJ? Time will tell. We could say that LeBron tarnished his legacy by pairing up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami, but in terms of his sheer talent and potential? We’ll have to wait and see, but I just don’t think the idea of LeBron as an all-time talent is as crazy as we’re making it out to be.
We’re the ones who crowned him, after all. We can’t be too angry that he might have the gall to take a run at the throne, now can we?