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Steve Kerr says LeBron more Pippen than Jordan

Jun 13, 2011, 1:37 PM EDT

Dallas Mavericks v Miami Heat - Game Six Getty Images

A player’s shortcomings become magnified in the finals. What was odd about LeBron James’ playing passively through the last few games of the NBA finals is that he’d been so good earlier in these playoffs — he was Miami’s best player against Boston and Chicago. He attacked in the face of the challenge of Boston’s court full of Hall of Famers, he stood up to the Bulls’ defense.

And then came the finals, when he scored 8 fewer points per game than the regular season, where he seemed hesitant to attack. LeBron could not get comfortable, could not get a couple shots from spots he loves to fall and parlay that into a run (the way Dirk Nowitzki did for Dallas).

Former Suns GM and current TNT analyst Steve Kerr made an interesting comment on ESPN Chicago about that and the controversy of Scottie Pippen saying before the series LeBron has more rounded game than Michael Jordan.

“The irony to me is that LeBron is not Michael. LeBron is actually Scottie,” former Bull and current television analyst Steve Kerr said Monday on “The Waddle & Silvy Show” on ESPN 1000. “He’s so similar to Scottie in that defensively he was just a monster, could guard anybody, really more of a point forward than scoring guard. Scottie always loved to distribute the ball. That’s really where LeBron’s preference is.

“Phil Jackson used to call Scottie a ‘sometimes shooter.’ Sometimes they would go in, sometimes they wouldn’t. That’s how it is with LeBron. He’s a great talent and a great player but you can see his flaws as a basketball player. He doesn’t have an offensive game that he can rely on: no low-post game, no mid-range jump shot so when the game really gets tough he has a hard time finding easy baskets and getting himself going. That’s what Michael did in his sleep so that’s why the comparison is wrong.”

For some, being called Pippen is an insult. It shouldn’t be — the Bulls are not the Bulls dynasty without him. He defended, set the table, could score when needed. He is one of the 50 greatest players of all time, a Hall of Famer. Being Pippen is no insult. Even is we expect LeBron to ascend to a higher plain.

It’s too early to define LeBron’s legacy — he is just halfway through his NBA career. Five years ago Nowitzki fell short on the big stage, the flaws in his game exposed (lack of a post game, for one). That has changed, he grew. LeBron can do the same thing. He can become more Jordan.

But for now, he’s going to have to listen to a lot of critics this summer. Because on the biggest stage he was no Jordan, and really no Pippen either.

  1. gor76 - Jun 13, 2011 at 1:49 PM

    He listened to his critics last summer too

    • savocabol1 - Jun 13, 2011 at 2:21 PM

      Funny, Lebron specifically said during the press conference yesterday that he never pays attention to what people are saying about him. Weird…..

  2. egls7 - Jun 13, 2011 at 1:59 PM

    Steve Kerr is the man

  3. edgy - Jun 13, 2011 at 2:03 PM

    In terms of his ultimate success, he’s going to be more like Charles Barkley — moving where ever he can to chase the dream but falling short every time.

    • baboushka - Jun 13, 2011 at 3:19 PM

      I don’t agree with this comment. I think he will win 1-3 titles before he is done. But only if Miami puts him at Point Guard and make him play it right. That is where he is best. And they need to move Bosh to small forward from power forward, and make him play that position right. Bosh needs to be Miami’s James Worthy. Meaning running the court on the wing with Wade and James (at point). And attacking or setup/shooting from the side. He completely clogs up the middle court area where James and Wade like to play and create. I mean around the free throw area, top of the key and on the perimeter. Bosh sets up there. Throws picks up there, and stays up there for jumpers. It visibly confuses and contorts Wade and James games. And I blame Spoelstra and Riley for not fixing this obvious flaw. Because that is the flaw Dallas exploited. That is what kills Miami’s flow more than anything. It always makes either James or Wade seem lost in transition.

      • thanhnugent - Jun 13, 2011 at 4:12 PM

        I beg to differ, sir. The combination Wade/Lebron will never work just for the simple fact that LBJ plays well only if he’s the main man. To assume a supporting role second to Wade is out of the question, thus making a multiple championship winning projection is somewhat unthinkable. From my point of view, Pat Riley has made a huge mistake by taking talent over team work.

      • tashkalucy - Jun 13, 2011 at 7:39 PM


        So James is going to guard quick PG’s and Bosh is going to guard quick 3’s?


      • baboushka - Jun 13, 2011 at 8:13 PM

        Yes. Just like he did with D Rose and Bosh did with Taj Gibson and Luol Deng at times in the Bulls series. And Just like James did with Jason Kidd, Jason Terry at times in the Dallas series. Like James did with Evan Turner in the Philly series. What is your problem? Lebron James is a superb defender of any kind of guard or forward. In fact he is a much better defender than Hall of Fame Point Guard, 6’9″ Magic Johnson. Who he prefers playing like btw. Why the heck do you think Pat Riley wanted him so badly. He wants to reincarnate Magic. But he will have to return to the bench to do it.

      • connaniii - Jun 13, 2011 at 8:36 PM

        Both Wade and LeBron are off guards, only that LeBron´s frame is one and unique. He could possibly play all five positions (one at a time) without being too much of a liability. Both are tremendous athletes, Wade is quicker in restricted spaces but LeBron is just as fast on the open floor. They both got great range on their jumpers and are fairly accurate on their midrange shots. Thing is it looks like they´re playing the same position by taking turns at it. Neither one is a true Nº 1 or Nº 2. In order to make it work, the pecking order shall be decided by who´s got the hot hand. By the way the Heat must get rid of Bibby quite urgently!!!!

      • edgy - Jun 14, 2011 at 9:46 AM

        Typical fan apologist. The guy was taken out of the series by Dallas and NOT his teammates. His game is limited by what he can do and the Mavs recognized this and used it. He’s got no real middle game and when he wasn’t able to run or get into the paint, he came up wanting and Dallas did a good job of making him a eunuch in the fourth quarter by keeping him from getting to his spots. Jordan’s middle game had gotten a lot better by his 7th season and it was a key to the first three peat and it got even better after he came back from baseball because he basically couldn’t do anything like he could just two years before and his mid-range jumper was a killer. You don’t see that from James. He’s gotten better at the three but that’s not a weapon for a guy that *needs* to get into the lane to be effective. Unless he develops a mid-range jumper, he’s going to be taken out by the “LeBron Rules.”

        This is his 8th season and the guy that some claim is better than Jordan has yet to win while Jordan was soaking up the acclaim for his second title without having to move from Chicago to build up a “super team” to help him overcome the so-called trash that the press said that he played with. Let’s not forget that his supporters said that this team would beat the Bulls’ record for wins and they didn’t even come close.

  4. craigw24 - Jun 13, 2011 at 2:04 PM

    Kurt, come on now.

    I just may be that all this had more to do with the Dallas Mavericks than with Lebron James. Lebron has been a beast of nature his entire basketball life. He never had to be subtle, he never had to have other go to moves. He could just out run, out jump, and muscle past player whenever he wanted. There have been other games when this wasn’t enough, but, in the Dallas Mavericks, Lebron ran into a team that could combat his strengths and force him to go to his alternative options – and he didn’t have any.

    The important thing to not here is that you, and the other ‘writer’ and ‘talking heads’ long ago anointed Lebron saint status. Therefore, what he needs to improve, as well as his opponent are never really taken into account.

    Kurt – welcome to the real world.

    • azoutcast - Jun 13, 2011 at 3:32 PM

      Beast of Nature? In order to be a Beast, don’t you need some sort of statistics proving it? Where are his? Unless you count 2 failed championship runs,and ruining 2 awsome franchises as Beast status? Far as I know, he’s NEVER led the league in any statistical category at leagues end, well, maybe turnovers. LeBron is the Tony Mandarich of Basketball. Way too much hype, nowhere near enough talent.

      Any comparison to Pippen, Jordan, Wilt, Magic, Bird, or any of the other greats is just sickening.

  5. philtration - Jun 13, 2011 at 2:07 PM

    Can’t argue with anything said here by Kerr or Kurt.

    LeBron does not have to be the greatest player of all time.
    That is ok.
    Just don’t act like are, promote yourself as if you are and expect the rest of the world to follow you in your admiration of yourself.
    You can be Scottie Pippen or any other great player but you could not even be LeBron James when it was needed most.
    You can win a ring or several of them without the stupid drama, pouting, flopping, dancing and whining.
    You can leave one team for another without the circus and the hype and the posing wearing sunglasses while indoors like you are Don Johnson or something.

    LeBron was right in his decision not to sign with the Bulls.
    He would not have been able to handle the pressure.

    • tashkalucy - Jun 13, 2011 at 7:45 PM

      When is Lebron James going to shut up?

      Why do we need to read his comments 24/7/365 on everything in the world?

      Did Bird or Magic act like this? Kobe? KG?

      This is a spoiled rotten 26 year old kid that is no where near growing up.

      Go find a vet from Afganistan or Iraq that is 22 or 23 and get some real opinions form a real human being that did something in life…..that made it easier for those of us in America.

      More than anyone else, Lebron James is responsible for turning the NBA into the WWF. It’s only a matter of time before people lose interest in this self-promoter.

  6. goforthanddie - Jun 13, 2011 at 2:10 PM

    “For some, being called Pippen is an insult.”
    Pippen has rings on his fingers. If anyone should be insulted, it’s him.

  7. dgbk - Jun 13, 2011 at 2:28 PM

    James is not jordan pip anyone, he lacked heart this whole serious. i actually gained more respect for bosh he played with guts. Lebron played well like lebron he is now 0-2 in the finals and never show up for all his tough talk. The heat really thought they will win just by showing up.

    • lebronsinsecurity - Jun 13, 2011 at 3:23 PM

      100% agree.. I actually think the Heat looked better when James was riding the bench.. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a guy mentally break the way James did last night in the 4th..

  8. silk32 - Jun 13, 2011 at 2:36 PM

    Not quite Pippen either. Actually, Pippen was effective in the mid-range >> . . . As far as King James taking “mental notes”, it’s simply the way this country works. We build our stars up, wait for them to fall and then help them back up. Jordan had his Pistons, Isiah had his Celtics, Ali had his Frazier, and Lebron has his “lack of mid-range game” to overcome. If he comes back stronger next year we will applaud him even more.

    • baboushka - Jun 13, 2011 at 3:45 PM

      I agree with you. I see a young guy buckling under the pressure and weight of bad decisions and high expectations. I also see a young guy in denial and close to a nervous breakdown. And his critics will drive him to one if he doesn’t seek the right kind of help. And leave the Posse behind. But once the country sees his vulnerability from any kind of collapse or breakdown, it will embrace him, strengthen and cheer for him if he learns from it. And is more humble and appreciative in victory. He really isn’t a bad person. That would be a Dennis Rodman type. He is just immature. And he paid a steep price for it this time around.

    • tashkalucy - Jun 13, 2011 at 7:48 PM

      Please…the “country” did not build up James……he did working in cooperation with his business partners at Nike and ESPN.

      Why didn’t ESPN have a “Mav Index”? Think they’ll have one next year?

      This guy will do or say anything for money and attention.

  9. artisan3m - Jun 13, 2011 at 2:58 PM

    It must really be painful for LeBron to get sacked by a bunch of old men. I have no sympathy for his arrogance and immaturity. If one is truly honest ~ including LeBron ~ his ineffectiveness probably had a lot to do with the Maverick defense. I don’t think anyone in Miami expected Dallas to post much of a defense. If they had paid more attention to Rick Carlisle, they would have known it was coming. They had those four Lakers games as clues.

    • dohpey28 - Jun 13, 2011 at 3:18 PM

      Why would LeBron ever be honest with himself when he is surrounded by people who have never been honest with him. All they tell him is what he wants to hear.

      He is a typical spoiled teenager who was never told no and handed everything they wanted when they wanted it, then all of a sudden in their 20s when they actually might have to work for something or face adversity crumple in the face of pressure.

  10. azoutcast - Jun 13, 2011 at 3:44 PM

    Well said dohpey. He was always told he was the best, when he never was much more than mediocre. It’s easy to dominate in high school when you are twice the size of anyone else. He really screwed himself with greed by not going to college. 2 years under any decent college program would have perhaps given him a skillset. Agility and big hands do not make an NBA hall of famer.

  11. dgbk - Jun 13, 2011 at 3:58 PM


    Its bosh fault lebron missed fadeaways over terry and j.j.?? Its also his faul wade dribbled the ball off his foot and various other mistakes? I dont think so its easy to make him the teams sacpegoat but im not buying it. They lost because their two best players crumbled under pressure.

    • tashkalucy - Jun 13, 2011 at 7:53 PM

      Duane Wade is another immature moron that can’t play within the framework of a team.

      When Jordan played with a fever in The Finals against the Jazz and won he was respected. But when Dirk does it here is little Dwayne acting like a 6 year old making fun of Dirk and coughing in front of the media. This guy is so stupid he didn’t even understand that Dirk had lead his team to a win over this kids team.

      The NBA is chock full of a bunch of overgrown kids that couldn’t pass a Junior High School literacy test but could play basketball.

  12. bcirej - Jun 13, 2011 at 4:04 PM

    For one, I can’t wait to see the film breakdown of adjustments Dallas made constantly during the playoffs. The Heat not only got OUTPLAYED, but OUTCOACHED. The statement I saw that Miami fans just figured it was a foregone conclusion that the Heat would win the championship and all they had to do was showup was so correct. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that they picked out and were measured for their rings months ago so they could put them on immediately after winning. Just like the other article about Macy’s having the gear all ready, too funny.

    Even as a Maverick’s fan I gained a lot of respect for Wade. After the game he was seeking out players to congratulate them, while King-effin-James sulked off to the locker room. No sportsmanship there. It will be all really too funny if the Heat never win a championship with the three superstars, although I would feel bad for Wade now. James and his ego don’t deserve even one.

  13. jordanisking - Jun 13, 2011 at 6:10 PM

    @dgbk – He’s not saying it’s “Bosh’s” fault. He blamed Coach and Riley for not redefining players roles and utilizing them where and how they fit together best. Lebron is a top tier second tier player and he should be in that role. He’s NOT Jordan! Not even close!! Nobody knows what Pippen was talking about??? It doesn’t even make sense. Not at this point in Lebrons career for sure. Michael was a Closer! A Cinch in the Clinch!!! Who’s hands do you want the ball in at the end of any game? Michael Jordan!!!
    Lebron doesn’t want the ball in those clinch moments so put him in position to distribute it out. He’s good at it.

    • baboushka - Jun 13, 2011 at 6:59 PM

      Exactly right Jordanisking:

      Wade, James and Bosh could be the most lethal trio in the NBA since Magic Johnson, Kareem Jabbar and James Worthy. Or Bird, Parish and McHale. There are a lot of ways to do it with 3 players this talented. But Riley and Spoelstra lumped them into an offense and attack style that forced all 3 to be the same player. And none of them looked like the players we knew them to be. They were frustrated and confused all year long with that offense. And if Riley or Spoelstra don’t change it to fit the obvious gifts those 3 guys possess, that frustration will continue next year.

      Bosh is very talented. He could overpower and outplay any small forward in the NBA if asked to do so. Just like James Worthy did for the LA Lakers. But Spoelstra puts him at Power Forward and wastes him. Even worse, that system paralyzes either James or Wade when they are not playing the Pick & Role with Bosh. It locks one of them up on the perimeter and takes them out of the flow. And all Bosh is left to do up there is clog up the transition zone where James and Wade can dominate a game. This is a very bad system for those 3 guys. It allowed Dallas to easily shut them down with a simple 2-3 zone defense.

      That’s all I’m saying dgbk. Dallas played their system to perfection. While Miami was still trying to figure theirs out against a zone. This should never have happened with 3 players that good. I lay the lack of preparation and change squarely on the Coach and GM. Dallas did the rest.

      • tashkalucy - Jun 13, 2011 at 7:55 PM

        Oh, please.

        Wade and James play the same game and will not change. They want the ball at the top of the key so they can dribble for 15 seconds and look for an opening to drive. And Bosh has always been a soft PF that has a pretty shot and not much of anything else.

        And with their egos none of these guys has ever listened to a coach and they’re not going to start now.

      • baboushka - Jun 13, 2011 at 8:39 PM

        Well I guess you are right. They didn’t listen to Coach K at the Olympics, who knew how to optimize their talents. That’s why they won the Gold medals eh? And I guess D Wade played exactly like you described when he led the Heat to that Championship with Shaq, Haslem, Antoine Walker et al eh? And I guess the Lebron James you described played just like that on the way to the NBA Finals, 2 MVPs, and the best record in BB in 2010 with the Cavaliers. Fact is Wade and James are 2 completely different type of players. James plays more like Pippen, Magic, Clyde Frazier and Oscar Robertson. Wade plays like Michael J, Clyde Drexler and Earl the Pearl Monroe. Chris Bosh plays more like Alex English and Dave Debuschere. Pat Riley knows this and will force a system to exploit those gifted players like that if Spo can’t do it next year. What is your answer except just ridiculing the second best team in the NBA this season. There are about 30 NBA coaches who would love to fix the “Miami problem” right now over the teams they have. Miami has eveything it needs to win it all next year except the right offensive system and a bona fide NBA center. And if they get the big 3 playing in the right positions, they won’t need a bona fide center.

  14. jollyjoker2 - Jun 13, 2011 at 7:05 PM

    No one who saw both jordon and lebron play should even consider lebron in Jordon’s league. Jordon could get his own shot off even if the entire defense was defending him.
    I would say Lebron is more like majic johnson on a bad day. Sure, he can drive the lane and pass to the open guy but who the heck needs that in the 4th quarter of game when your down by 5-10 points. I want a guy that no matter when you give it to him, he can get his shot off and put it in the hole. This guy cannot shoot anything more than layups consistently. If he expects to win a title, he is gonna need a lot of help.

  15. dgbk - Jun 14, 2011 at 12:25 AM

    Lets say they make these moves so bosh will guard either ray allen or pierce when they play the celtics?? Wade and lebron cant guard rondo allen and pierce… Im assuming haslem and center x will also start in the picture ur painting… that has bad move all over it.. Better yet when the play okc wit westbrook durant and harden who will bosh guard? They can adjust the offense but bosh has to be the 4 he cant guard fours i rather not watch small fwds kill him.

  16. diablito0402 - Jun 14, 2011 at 10:20 AM

    Lechoke can be what all you guys want him to be,,,?? But the sad truth is the guy aint all there upstairs , he is soft and fragile mentally period. Thats the answer to his game, hes a fraeak physically but soft as a pillow mentally.

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