Michael Jordan Standard

Lebron James

Lebron James is the best basketball player on the planet.

So what?

Lebron may make the right plays in crunch time but, when it comes down to it, he will never be a hero. We are a society that crave great leaders and heroes that are so few and far between. We celebrate those that can rise to the occasion against all the odds and still come out on top. It’s why we love movies like Spartacus, Gladiator and Robin Hood.

Call the Lebron haters whatever you want but you can never fault them for saying Lebron James will never be Michael Jordan or even Kobe Bryant.

Forget about the different eras and the hand-checking. Don’t give Dennis Rodman the attention he seeks, Lebron would be amazing no matter what. However, what will never change from the days of gladiators to the end of time is a person’s psyche. Very few can combine the ability for greatness with that killer instinct. It doesn’t matter what game a person is playing or how that game has evolved over the course of time. What matters in this discussion is that the mental aspect of the game will always be a constant.

Whether you are celebrating or criticizing Kobe Bryant for taking a fade-away 3-pointer while he is triple-teamed, there is no denying that those are shots Lebron James is, for the most part, unwilling to take. Whether, from a basketball analytics perspective, taking the low-percentage shot is the right or wrong thing to do in the moment, to be truly great you have to be willing to do the wrong thing sometimes.

Killer Instinct. It’s something that Lebron James does not possess to the extent that Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant do.

At this point in his career, Lebron is not clutch or unclutch. He should not ever be labelled as either. The dreaded word is used far too often to define a player when most athletes fall somewhere in the meaty part of the imaginary clutch-unclutch bell curve (see Tony Romo).

Lebron can make as many clutch shots and win as many championships as he wants. It won’t change his nature and who he will always be as a person. Nothing can do that. Lebron is not a killer by trade. This is what exposes him to criticism and justifiably so. He is not a live by the sword, die by the sword kind of leader.

Fortunately for Lebron haters, to be truly great in the game of basketball, you must be a killer. Any semblance of fear or passivity won’t cut it.

Lebron supporters can thank Michael Jordan for that.

Lebron is labelled as passive by his detractors because anything less than a merciless approach is seen as weakness. There is no middle ground. As the self-proclaimed ‘King’, he is measured to a different standard. The Michael Jordan standard is a virtually impossible one for any athlete to reach yet this is how comparisons work, especially when you want to be the ‘King’. Lebron James doesn’t get compared to Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh. It’s all relative.

You think it is right for Barack Obama to be held to the same standards as Joe Biden?

It isn’t all Michael Jordan’s doing though. It is from the thousands of years of human history. Stories both of fact and fiction telling us about the warriors who became legends. In these stories, it takes a special individual to be respected for not only his actions but also for who they are as a person.

Lebron James the player is widely respected. Lebron James the person is a whole other issue.

Athletes are the modern day warriors. We hold our athletes to the standards of not only past athletes but also to the legendary warriors throughout history – Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great and so on. Warriors that we have heard and read about since we were children.

Real warriors don’t make excuses, don’t get tired and they definitely don’t ask their coach for a breather in game 1 of the NBA finals. As obvious as it is that a warrior may need a little assistance, real warriors don’t call their teammates out to the media or refer back to their Cleveland days to ensure everyone knows how much of a warrior they are being at that time. Real warriors don’t do the King Kong chest pound in game 4 of a 1st round sweep.

Most importantly, a real warrior’s burden should never be too much to carry. At least, in the eyes of everyone else, it should seem that way.

Lebron James may still become a legend in his own right. But a legend only because of God-given physical ability.

Not his mental ability.

Agree? Disagree? Reply in the comments section below or e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com

Also, you can follow me on twitter @chrisrossPTB and I will happily return the favour.

About Chris Ross
Questions, comments, suggestions? Send yours to cross_can15@hotmail.com. Follow me on twitter @paintstheblack

9 Responses to Michael Jordan Standard

  1. We can start talking about LeBron’s relative “greatness” when he wins as many championships as MJ. That is the ultimate Michael Jordan Standard. Great blog.

  2. The comparison is, in my opinion, pointless. We do it in soccer with Pele, Maradona and now Messi. It is difficult to compare athletes from different eras, but we seem to obsess with it continually. There will never be another Jordan, or Kobe or, for that fact, LeBron. The latter will create his own legacy in the game. I think it’s arrogant for anyone to self proclaim best ever at anything. The gift was not acquired by the self. Without his surrounding cast, I highly doubt MJ would have accomplish it all. But all history talks about is MJ.

  3. AAboss says:

    ya my very first article a couple months ago, was somewhat about this. i think that u are right in that you have to be willing to take bad shots, it all comes with being that 4th quarter star. Lebron definetly needs to toughen up and be just a little bit less immature. He has improved in that area though.

  4. Sideline Mob says:

    Chris, well done. Honestly, the whole LeBron vs. MJ argument should be shot down from the very start; comparing guards to forwards is an apples-to-oranges affair anyway. It’s like trying to compare Patrick Roy to Wayne Gretzky, or Barry Sanders to Jerry Rice. LeBron is his own man – he never compared himself to Jordan, he only wore the guy’s number for a few seasons. The media is once again pulling their classic “build ’em up to tear ’em down” routine.

  5. Good article, Chris. Agree wholeheartedly. Triple Doubles are great and all, but they don’t immortalize you (see Steve Nash). I dislike Kobe, but he does have that killer instinct and LeBron doesn’t. It showed up in the Finals against Dallas 2 years ago when he just disappeared.

  6. LeBron vs Michael , why ? It is all so pointless ! Two great players undoubtedly ! One player inspires leadership , while the other can only hope to inspire as much . . The Miami Heat lacks a real leader who is really vocal and who demands more from his teammates . I`ve yet to see that at all , with LeBron . There endeth the story . Enough said !

    tophattal …………

  7. I’m sick of MJ comparisons. I think we need to let LeBron be LeBron.

  8. Years ago, Chris, I wrote that LeBron was too nice for his own good and that he needed to develop that kill-or-be-killed mindset. I think he’s on his way to doing that. Game Seven showed me that. Those jumpers were pure, man.

    In light of all the LeBron hate, I hosted a little contest over at the Chump just to see what people were saying and why they hated him so.

    I’m expecting some interesting answers.


  9. JoelLomman says:

    Great writing Chris, but I would like to partially and respectfully disagree. I’m not sure about the argument that because LeBron isn’t willing to take the “bad shot,” he doesn’t have that killer instinct. Yes, he hasn’t showed up at times down the stretch and I agree he doesn’t have that ferocity to attack (all the time) that MJ and Kobe had. Although the reason he doesn’t take that shot is the very reason its been given that title, its a bad shot.
    One of the things that makes LeBron so good, is his basketball IQ, he doesn’t take that shot because there is a better one on the court somewhere.
    Last year against the Pacers, Hibbert is out (because he wouldn’t be able to stretch out to Bosh quick enough if its kicked to him) and LeBron makes the right play and gets to the rim for a layup. This year, Hibbert is left in (to stop the layup) LeBron gets alongside his man and is heading towards the rim where Roy is waiting. He could go ahead and take on the 7 footer and his trailing defender, but instead he passes to a wide open Bosh.
    Now, Bosh misses the shot and I see you argument, but its the right basketball play. He has made that play (the best one) generally for the last 3 seasons, and has 2 chips to show for it. Hey and that’s definitely the shot the Spurs would have taken, cant argue that hasn’t worked.

    So I agree, LeBron may not have that same instinct that MJ had, but playing the game the best way you can shouldn’t be diminished, and that will be one of the things that defines his “legend,” when its all over.

    Great blog man, suss out ours,

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