Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James is not only one of the greatest players to ever play the game, but also one of the biggest superstars the NBA has ever seen. The debate over the best player ever continues to rage on between James and Michael Jordan and LeBron’s agent Rich Paul offered up an interesting view point as well.
With the rise of social media over this last generation, it has opened up celebrities to previously unseen levels of access and criticism. Every move these stars make is covered extremely closely and there is now a 24/7 news cycle in which nothing is ever missed or skipped over. The fact that LeBron plays for the Lakers, one of the most popular franchises in sports, only heightens that attention.
And this is something Paul noted is different between James and Jordan. In an appearance on the Gilbert Arenas Podcast, Paul said that LeBron forging his own path in this era of constant criticism from everywhere is something Jordan never had to deal with:
“[Michael Jordan] transcended the game. When Kobe [Bryant] came, Kobe was a silhouette of Mike. That’s everything, which is great. But LeBron is the first player to have to deal with a 24-7-365 news cycle of sports and opinions from those that’s not even capable or carry the expertise to give a valid opinion. In addition to, ‘No, I’m not gonna really do it how y’all want me to do it, I’m probably gonna do it how I decide to do it.’ We all know that don’t go over well, and so then you have this environment and this sports society that’s created, and so now you have to root against. That’s a whole another thing that Mike never had to deal with, because his hardest critic was probably Peter Vecsey.”
This is a point that simply can not be argued. During Jordan’s day, the media scrutiny was nowhere near as tough and incidents could get swept under the rug. If Jordan had punched Steve Kerr in practice today, it would be talked about for weeks and he likely would have been suspended. Instead, it didn’t even come to light until years later. Videos of Jordan going out gambling during the playoffs would have been all over Twitter as well.
As Paul noted, LeBron forging his own path and taking control was also something that hadn’t really been seen to this extent and that also rubbed many the wrong way and brought on more criticism. On-court debates will continue on between fans of the Lakers superstar and the Bulls great, but it is indisputable that the outside scrutiny James faces far exceeds what Jordan ever had to deal with.
Former Lakers coach Byron Scott says no one will break LeBron James’ scoring record
James has accomplished a lot during his time with the Lakers, not only bringing the franchise a championship, but breaking the all-time scoring record of Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. And with LeBron still playing, former Lakers player and coach Byron Scott believes he could push it to an unbreakable point.
Scott spoke recently, noting that LeBron could push his all-time number beyond 40,000 career points, adding that he doesn’t believe that number could be approached in our lifetime.
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