Written By: Morgan Cohen
Generally speaking, I can be pretty quiet when people first meet me. If someone else is dominating the conversation, I let them and I listen respectfully. At the same time, I’m a naturally loquacious individual, who is more than happy to talk if someone will let me. Mention the Lakers in passing and I’ll jump at the opportunity to chime in. Or if you’re insane enough and dare to insult Kobe Bryant to my face, you’ll see what happens. It amazes me when I’m wearing Lakers gear at my favorite bar how many guys attempt to strike up a conversation by insulting my jersey. I guess it works, because I can never resist an opportunity for a good sports argument in general (or the chance to put a Laker/Kobe Hater in their place). While I don’t always convince them, I try to wear them down enough to admit their respect for Kobe’s game, no matter how begrudgingly they give it.
This summer, I received an email from an acquaintance about basketball and he lead with “I analyze sports for a living and there is NO WAY Kobe Bryant is better than LeBron James. Kobe might have a greater desire/will to win & have a better jumper, but LeBron is the most effective player in the league.” At first glance, I was ready to eviscerate him for even suggesting that LeBron is better is Kobe but I took a moment to really read and absorb what he wrote. Is LeBron more effective than Kobe? And if so, does that truly make him better? I thought about it and despite my instinct to defend Kobe’s honor against every slight, I conceded that LeBron was probably better… but Kobe is still best.
LeBron James is a freak of an athlete in the best possible way, and I used to really enjoy watching him play when he first entered the league. He was exciting, personable and more than lived up to the hype surrounding his game. Somewhere along the line, the media started placing him on a pedestal above Kobe Bryant and that did not sit well with me – after all, where are his rings? Additionally, cracks started to show in LeBron’s kingly veneer and the image that emerged was not of an athlete with Michael Jordan’s killer instinct and Magic Johnson’s sparkling personality, but of a petulant, real-life Vincent Chase more concerned with having fun with his friends and putting up gaudy numbers than collecting rings. I want to respect LeBron, I really do. He’s incredible. But I can’t when he acts like a spoiled child so much of the time. More often than not, he relies on his supreme athletic gifts to get him where he needs to be, not his work ethic. Having your dreams handed to you on a silver platter will do that to a person.