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?

Comments (21)

  1. uhhh literally no one was up in arms over what LeBron said – they were commenting on what Scottie said

    wtf is this article even about

  2. I like what he said. I just think it’s funny that he thinks Bill Russel is a guy floating around with multiple rings. He’s more than just that.

  3. I wasn’t aware people were mad at lebron. People have been piling on Scottie if anything.

    C’mon son…..

  4. Hero, if you read any articles over the weekend, you would know that most of them criticized LeBron for not ruling out the possibility that he won’t be better than Jordan. This is a well written article pointing out that even when LeBron gives a humble, honest, politically correct statement, the sporting world will condemn him.

  5. I have to agree with Hero and illmatic. I didn’t hear anyone complain about LeBron’s response. If there are, I agree with you Holly. What was he supposed to say? I dislike him as much the next guy, but this time I must say that he handled this perfectly. Scottie Pippen on the other hand: Why? Why, Scottie?

  6. I don’t get it: how can people confuse talent and greatness???

    LeBron is already the most talented player ever. He’s not the greatest.

    Wilt was way more talented than Russel, but Russel was just, somehow, a better basketball player.
    For a more contemporary comparison: Javale McGee is more talented than, let’s say Greg Monroe, but he’s the lesser player.
    Basketball isn’t all about talent people. I’m shocked even Pippen doesn’t understand that.

    And yeah, LBJ handled it well… for once! Let’s give him props for not acting like an a-hole once in a while.

  7. I blame the media…:) No seriously. It’s the headline writers that actually kicked up all the weird sentiments.

    I was actually listening to ESPN radio when Scottie came on and said that. Oh great, Scottie, I thought. Thanks. Here comes the sh*tstorm.

    When I saw some of the Yahoo! and other site’s headlines about LBJ’s response, some were flat out deception like “James agrees with Pippen”…then you’d see the same article with “James disagrees with Pippen”, and eventually “James Doesn’t Disagree with pippen” or something…then I read the actual soundbite and I can’t believe how right on point LeBron James was with his response.

    “It’s not about that.” is the basic summary.

    I am a big LBJ hater. Can’t stand the guy. Mostly because of the media crowning him king before he played a game, being forced to confess and submit to his eventual GOATness, the poor kid hasn’t had a chance. Makes me sick. Let the guy win us over, dammit. All of you on that side of the media wall. Let him win something.

  8. Scottie must be on some kind of substance.

  9. This is a good piece. I read several articles over the weekend criticizing LeBron for these comments….they specifically targeted “better or not better” and ripped him on that. It’s absurd how much venom people have for him. Clearly he was in no way saying he was better. He was trying to give a diplomatic answer and respond to quotes by someone else that sort of put him in a bad position.

  10. Javale McGee is in no way more talented than Greg Monroe as a basketball player. He’s a more talented longjumper, sure, or a more talented sprinter, but not a more talented basketball player. Monroe has much better hand-eye coordination, is stronger and able to hold position better, and is a naturally more talented shooter than McGee. Monroe might (definitely does) also have a better sense of where to be in an offense and how to play his man straight up on defense, but he’s incredibly gifted physically, as well. A lot of the types of things he does really well are physical talents just as much as are jumping high and running fast.

  11. LeBron’s comment is a great as it can be.

    Great article Holly.

  12. Pippen said that to vindicate the loss of Bulls to Heat: his plan is to make LeBron head too big and explode when pressure is too high!

    I think it might work, besides rumors had it that Bosh was absolutely pissed when Wade and Bron decided to ditch him and have press-conference with only 2 of them there. The chemistry on the Heat sucks right now, kind of like the Lakers, except Miami does not even have a good star mediator coach.

  13. @ Lowell

    Allright, you got me. I actualy never saw Monroe play, I was just searching for a young more hard-working big. Shooting isn’t really a talent, it is learned.
    “Monroe might (definitely does) also have a better sense of where to be in an offense and how to play his man straight up on defense” isn’t talent imo either. It makes you a better player, but it has more to do with intelligence than sheer physical talent.

    What I meant was that there are qualities in a basketball player that I wouldn’t call “talent” but are almost as important.

  14. My only issue with LeBron’s comments is his misuse and lack of understanding of the meaning of the words “gracious” and “humbled”

  15. Breyzh , you said it perfectly. Nuff said.

  16. Lbj is better and greater than Mj. Now stop hating on a nigga like that.

  17. @ bill james: if you’re going to make idiotic remarks such as the one you posted, then please, just don’t write at all, “nigga”.

  18. This is stupid. I get that everyone compares every good player to every other good player, but this is getting out of hand. There will never be another MJ, and no one will have as big of an impact on the game like he has. Enough.

  19. TBJ needs a forum

  20. lol at Mr. satan nigga

  21. Lebron didn’t tarnish his legacy by hooking up with DWade and Bosh. He took control of it. He gave Cleveland 7 seasons to field him a championship caliber team with a sufficient #2, but they didn’t. So, he went out and found his own #2 and #3. Would you have rather he left the decision on who he played with for the rest of his career up to team management like Barkley and Karl Malone did? You see what it got them.

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