About two seconds after LeBron James made "The Decision" to pull a Hollywood Hogan
on the city of Cleveland so he could team up with the Super Friends of South Beach -- hereafter referred to as "The Nazgul" -- the Internet almost crashed under the electronic weight of newspaper articles and blog posts proclaiming that: Michael Jordan never would have wimped out like that...he wanted to beat his opponents not join them
Because of course nothing LeBron has ever done or apparently will ever do -- no 50-point performance, no triple-double, no buzzer beater, no playoff performance, and now no contract decision -- is complete until the Michael Jordan comparisons are made. It's like the huge glop of cheese on top of an order of cheese fries. If LeBron's tree falls in the woods, nobody will hear it unless it gets compared to how loud Jordan's tree was when it fell.
Anyway, all that "MJ wouldn't have done that" stuff was all idle speculation until now. The GOAT has spoken
"There's no way, with hindsight, I would've ever called up Larry, called up Magic and said 'Hey, look, let's get together and play on one team. But...things are different. I can't say that's a bad thing. It's an opportunity these kids have today. In all honesty, I was trying to beat those guys."
So Jordan has officially confirmed what we were all already thinking. Thanks for that, MJ. Personally, I was tired of all that thinking. My brain is more paper weight than functioning organ. Mind you, this latest pronouncement comes on the heels of His Airness stating that (in his opinion) Kobe is better than LeBron
So...how does it feel under that dogpile, LeBron? Do you have enough, ahem, air
The funny thing is, this isn't the first time MJ has fired a few warning shots across LeBron's bow. This has been forgotten in the annals of NBA lore, but check out Jordan's comments about the soon-to-be-a-rookie version of King James
"He may think he's great enough to be on this level now. But when he gets on this level and plays against guys who've been competitive and very good on this level, he's going to find it's a big difference from that 5-10 high school kid.
"I think he's talented for 18 years old. Once he gets to this level, I don't think he's in the upper echelon of two guards or small forwards. I think he's toward the bottom -- respectively so, because there's so much about his game that he's going to have to adapt to. He has unbelievable potential. I think that's what everybody is looking at, everybody is raving about. But he hasn't played against competition consistently, college or pros. He's played against high school kids ... You have to give that some credence.
"When you look at the skill level and his maturity at his age, he's definitely talented enough. Five years from now? If he takes on the dedication of being the best basketball player he can be, and continues to improve and accept challenges and not get comfortable with what's been given to him or what the expectations may be, he could definitely be a good pro."
Well, I guess MJ was right...LeBron is definately a good pro
There was also this exchange between MJ and Charles Barkley
With cigar in hand and sarcasm dripping from his words, Michael Jordan posed a question for Charles Barkley.
"Charles, what would you have done if Pip (Scottie Pippen) and I called you up and asked you to come join us in Chicago?" Jordan asked.
A look of disgust flashed on Barkley's face. Not in a million years, he scoffed, and his colorful language made Jordan smile with pleasure.
It was nothing more than a humorous exchange between close friends on the driving range of the American Century Championship. Yet it spoke volumes of how the NBA's old guard views LeBron James and his ignoble departure to Miami.
"Let me just tell you this," Barkley said. "Mike and I are in 100 percent agreement on this. If you're the two-time defending NBA MVP, you don't leave anywhere. They come to you. That's ridiculous.
"I like LeBron. He's a great player. But I don't think in the history of sports you can find a two-time defending MVP leaving to go play with other people."
Speaking of Sir Charles, The Round Mound had this to say to 790 the Ticket in Miami last week:
"He'll never be Jordan. This clearly takes him out of the conversation. He can win as much as he wants to.
"There would have been something honorable about staying in Cleveland and trying to win it as 'The Man' ... LeBron, if he would've in Cleveland, and if he could've got a championship there, it would have been over the top for his legacy, just one in Cleveland. No matter how many he wins in Miami, it clearly is Dwyane Wade's team."
Just like with MJ, Chuck is simply saying what we were all already thinking. But here's the thing: Maybe it doesn't matter. Maybe, in part, this was LeBron's way of saying, "I know I'm not Michael Jordan. And I don't want to try to be Michael Jordan."
Personally, I think LeBron wants to be "Mega Pippen." Back in the day, Scottie Pippen wanted to be considered equal to Michael Jordan without shouldering the responsibility of being Michael Jordan
. I mean, he tried (when he wasn't getting a migraine or refusing to check into the game
because the game-winning play was written up for somebody else), but Pippen simply wasn't that kind of player. And, frankly, he wasn't Jordan's equal.
However, LeBron is at least
D-Wade's equal. And yet now he has a teammate who has killer instinct and championship pedigree. Now, King Crab can do his "a little bit to a lot of everything" act -- ala Pippen -- and potentially turn to Wade when things get ugly. And, as Barkley said, it's always going to be Dwyane's team, so the greatest burden of responsibility will always been on Wade.
At any rate, it all comes back to the same thing, and I've said it over and over on this site: All comparisons between LeBron and MJ should stop immediately (if they haven't already). If not because they were ridiculous to begin wtih, then because LeBron himself made has made "The Decision" not
to be like Mike.
Labels: Lebron James, Michael Jordan, The Nazgul