As much respect as I lost for LeBron James this summer, I would be crazy to deny him as one of the most talented and dominating individual players of all-time. Since he was a junior in high school, it was obvious the kid called “King” was going to be one hell of a NBA player. Including Magic Johnson, there had never been a player as big as a power forward but as athletic as a guard.
His inhuman physical characteristics instantly made him one of the league’s best players before he played his first NBA game. Fresh off of his second consecutive Most Valuable Player award, it appeared that Kobe was being succeeded earlier than people thought. However, with just a few words and a 60-minute special, LeBron threw away almost any chance he had at supplanting Mr. Bryant.
LeBron decision to trade his Cavs jersey for a Heat uniform does not make him a worse player or give reason to say he isn’t an outstanding one either. What his decision did was reveal his true character; it unveiled to everyone who he really was. Unfortunately, it was not the humble, mature and strong-willed player that he appeared to be. Instead, a coward was revealed. A player, who wanted to be king, wanted to be the chosen one and win championships at the same time.
He decided to “take his talents to South Beach” where he would be teamed up with fellow All-Stars in Wade and Bosh. He wouldn’t have to play against some of the best players in the conference any more, and now his opposition has to play against all three of them at once.
Kobe may do whatever it takes to win, but he would never leave his team to join a collection of other stars in an attempt to monopolize their way to a championship. Neither would Jordan, Bird or Magic. It’s just not in their nature. They feed off of the competition, off of beating each other and being able to hold bragging rights all throughout the offseason.
Essentially, LeBron WAS better than Kobe individually these past two seasons; he dominated the game in a way we have never seen and his all-around set of abilities trumped basically every player to play the game of basketball. I even said as the playoffs were beginning, “barring injury, the league is LeBron’s for the next six or seven years”. I just couldn’t imagine anyone else challenging him for that spot. He was going to be the best player of all-time.
However, his lack of any killer-instinct fully separates him from Kobe. No matter what you say about Bryant, even through the worst of times, he stuck it out in Los Angeles. Yes, he made brutal trade requests, but he never ended up forcing it. He stuck it out, and now he is closing in on Jordan’s six titles.
If LeBron ends up registering insane numbers and Miami goes on to win four or five titles, then his position can be reconsidered. But to be the alpha-dog of the league, you have to be the alpha-dog of your team first, and that remains to be seen in LeBron’s case.