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It’s probably not the day for this article, I admit, but what the outbursts have is that they’re abrupt and unexpected with Kobe Bryant Michael Jordan LeBron James Champion Shirt. Ted Mosby said that one can do one thing well a thousand times, but at one thousand times, the truth will come out and that is exactly what happened today. I’ve been trying for too many years to pretend that I don’t like or enjoy Kobe Bryant’s game, lying that it’s not him I don’t like but his fans, when the truth is that I don’t know which of the two figures I like least; or pretending to make jokes with the Celtics-Lakers rivalry to avoid the typical and sacrosanct: “If you don’t like Kobe it’s that you don’t have a fucking basketball idea”. But after being riddled for 24 hours with articles, videos and tweets praising his figure, I can’t go on, I give up: I don’t like Kobe Bryant. I hate it. And if it weren’t for the fact that he will spend the season making statements with the same frequency with which he now misses field shots, the NBA would seem to me to be a more paradisiacal place from next year onwards. But since I’ve never been much of a fan of axioms or imposed ideas, I’m going to try to explain why I’m so unpopular.
I know that Brian de Palma’s Scarface has thousands of followers and that Al Pacino’s poster competes with CR7’s in the bedroom of any post-adolescent with certain infamous film buffs, but despite being a good and effective film, it will never get to kiss the heels of the one directed by Howard Hawks in 1932. And there’s nothing like the value of something original, new, fresh.
That’s something Bryant has never been, moreover, it’s something he’s never tried to be. He has always been a copy (good, very good) of Michael Jordan, from when he was a child in Italy to those training camps prior to the “NBA Draft 1996” in which some companions recognized “reddening” before the collection of gestures, movements and ‘stolen’ expressions that the young man from Philadelphia exhibited without any kind of dissimulation. The bad thing about doing this is that no matter how good you are you’re never going to be better than what you’re copying, because you’ve already eliminated the surprise factor. The viewer does not sit with new eyes to be dazzled, but already has a previous reference with which will be permanently equating you. And when that reference is Jordan, you’re going to lose any comparison. Always.
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Let’s take an example that I know is controversial, LeBron James. It can be better or worse than Kobe, everyone will have their own opinion, but everyone knows what kind of player we’re talking about when every summer it’s said that this or that university student is the new LeBron James. Why doesn’t anyone talk about a new Kobe Bryant draft after draft? Because Kobe Bryant, per se, is not a type of basketball player, but is already the best ‘new Jordan’.
So much has been written about his battle with Shaquille O’Neal that I’m ashamed to type about it, but the only thing that’s certain about it is that a team that could have scored a before and after in the history of the sport stayed on a team that will go down in the history of the NBA, yes, but always with the asterisk of what they could have done.
To blame Kobe Bryant exclusively for that fracture would be stupid, as well as exonerating him from any responsibility. From my point of view, all that happened was that the second sword of a team did not know how to accept its role and wanted each of the focuses on it. Legitimate decision? It may be, but it is also stupid. Especially for a player about whom it has always been said that everything he has done during his career has been with a single goal: to win.
Sins of youth, the arrogance that always accompanies talent, the pain of feeling undervalued… all are attempts at justification that have been coming out over the years but for me are invalidated after what I have seen these last two seasons, which have only served to strengthen his character as a diva. Paul Pierce, Dirk Nowitzki or Tim Duncan are contemporaries of #24 and, like this one, living legends of basketball that as soon as they retire will be included in the “Hall of Fame”. The only thing that differentiates them from Bryant is that the first three have known how to assume that age weighs and that there are times when giving (and winning) a little less is contributing much more. While some have accepted – and even proposed – salary and minute reductions on the track, both to attract players with fresher legs and to make your contribution more effective, Bryant has spent it all for the lining of his real ego.
The NBA is back soon. The players are already being incorporated for their preseason and the curtain is about to rise so that the magic spreads to all corners of the world. What a desire!
And he comes back with the big issues like whether the Warriors will renew their title, whether the Knicks will come out of their hole, or whether the Spurs will keep up the level by being a threat despite their seniority. However, there is an issue that has remained stable and that we can not get rid of: is Lebron James the best player of all time beating Michael Jordan?
The fact that this debate continues is that it is not so clear and there are many with strong arguments for both sides. But I’m going to try to give a different vision to see if it brings a little more light to the issue. From a physical point of view, both are a force of nature. Perhaps Lebron is more dominant at a time when the physical environment is more worked on. It is more dominant when everyone has worked harder on it. So, point for Lebron.
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From a technical point of view, both are real gifted. Of course there are better pitchers, better matadors, better passers, better defenders or better rebounders. In short, they probably don’t reach the level of specialist in every one of those facets, but the level in each one of those areas is very high and the set incorporated in them puts them at a level that no one has been able to reach. Here I would give them a draw, but I understand that there can be divergences depending on what each one values certain aspects of the game considering also their positions and their impact on the game.
From a mental point of view, they are both murderers. Both are capable of playing the last possession with the certainty of winning the match. Both maintain concentration and competitiveness at the highest level. Neither is erased when things are difficult. Both are looking for it, both are strong and both are dominant like no one else. Here we give them a draw too.
And then there are the recognitions and sporting achievements: Jordan has more NBA titles. In his 15 years as a professional he has won 6 rings while Lebron has won 3 in 14 years. Many say this is what matters in the end. And that’s why Lebron moved from Cleveland to Miami and why he decided to come back. We can look at other accomplishments, but at these levels, they are not so relevant. Score for Jordan. Then there are the individual records, where Lebron, who started his professional career 3 years younger than Jordan, holds most of the precocity records it looks like he’s going to pass Jordan in terms of points scored in a race. It’s also true that Jordan’s 15 years were interrupted by two temporary retirements (the first time he retired when he was 30) and it looks like Lebron is going to have a longer career that will allow him to get better overall numbers.
For now, Jordan has, among other NBA records, the number of top scorer titles (10), the best career average scorer (30.1 pts), the best playoff career average scorer (33.4 pts), or the number of MVPs in finals (6). In average numbers and achievements, Jordan seems to outperform Lebron, so we give this point to the Bulls. But with more seasons, it looks like when Lebron retires he’ll outnumber Jordan in some global numbers. Therefore, it is possible that this difference in a few years is not so clear and we would have to give a draw or even an advantage to Lebron. We’ll see. Other comparisons such as steals, rebounds or assists do not seem to be relevant to these effects since his position on the field is different and not applicable.
However, there is one element that is really determinant is the way you lead. Lebron is a leader of those who throw the team behind their backs, of those who make everything revolve around him. Teams have had to build on him. He chooses the coach, the players and even the managers. Lebron’s hand looks long and deep. The teams that Lebron has been in have come as high as he has been able to go. The limit of Lebron’s teams is Lebron himself. And he’s probably the player with the most ability to do that. But he is his own limit. He’s a throwing leadership.
However, with the arrival of Phil Jackson to the Bulls, Jordan changed from a pull leadership to a push leadership. A leadership of giving himself to his coach and the team to make a whole better. Phil Jackson was asked when he believes that change occurred and he explains: “in 1991, in a 5th playoff game against the Lakers they decided to focus their defense on him. I asked for time out and we talked about it on the bench. I asked Michael who he thought was open when he was being trap-trapped and he said: Paxon. He knew. I said “OK”. That’s all I had to say. Jordan attended Paxon over and over again. He scored 20 points in 33 minutes. “Michael was happy to know that he had beaten the Lakers by drawing attention and creating opportunities for his peers. That was the key moment. That was the moment when he went from being a great scorer to learning how to win without scoring. That’s when he knew he’d win championships for just that. It was the moment of change for him.
Personally, I think Michael Jordan is the greatest player of all time. And that Lebron is not going to be able to change that. He doesn’t have time to make the change Jordan made. It hasn’t been his style and it’s not going to be now that he’s 33. But I don’t think it’s because of statistics, or because of physics, or even because of achievements or records. Lebron will not reach Jordan’s level because Jordan was able to make a whole team better in a recurrent way through his dedication to the whole, to a blind confidence that doing other better makes him better and as a consequence brings spectacular results, such as 6 rings of the NBA. Some claim that one on one, Lebron would beat Jordan, but they wear Kobe Bryant Michael Jordan LeBron James Champion Shirt. It’s very possible. What I’m saying is that it’s irrelevant when it comes to deciding if it’s the best. Basketball is a team sport. And the best basketball player is the one who makes you play the best basketball and get the team achievements while getting amazing performances on a personal level. And there, Jordan is light years ahead of Lebron.