Jul 25, 2011, 8:00 PM EST
LeBron James is no Michael Jordan.
Kobe Bryant is no Michael Jordan.
Nobody is going to be the next Michael Jordan. Nobody. Ever. We know that, but we compare everyone who comes along to him. That leads to another question:
Is the shadow of Jordan ruining people’s ability to appreciate the players listed above — and many others — for what they are?
In an interesting post over at Hardwood Paroxysm, Scott Leedy delved into the subject.
Michael’s greatness has warped the way we evaluate and interpret the careers of today’s superstars. No one is allowed to succeed on their own terms: they must succeed on his. Nothing better exemplifies this than the career of one LeBron James. The Chosen One, King James, 6 foot 8 inches and 250 pounds of proof that mass times acceleration does indeed equal force. Outside of possibly Shaquille O’Neal, there has never been a more physically gifted player. At only 26 years old, this built for basketball cyborg has an incredible resume that includes two MVPs, a couple of the greatest statistical seasons ever, an all time WTF performance at Auburn Hills…
Despite LeBron’s accomplishments, most people, even supporters, would probably consider his career to be at least somewhat of a disappointment. Sadly, a lot of the criticism centers around the same tired, unoriginal and uninspired refrain: “Michael Jordan NEVER would have (fill in the blank here)”. Michael never would have left Cleveland. Michael never would have teamed up with Wade. Michael never would have played a couple bad games in the finals. Michael never would have worn a headband. Michael’s hairline never would have receded like that.
In Kobe’s case, he has made it his mission to get as many rings as MJ (he’s short one but the Lakers are still contenders), to pass Jordan on the all-time scoring list, to best MJ in every category he can. But he will still never be Jordan.
LeBron has yet to approach that kind of success (he’s still just 26, we don’t know what his legacy will be yet). But is he being held up to an unfair standard — something he has helped bring on himself, but an unfair standard none-the-less.
Maybe it’s time to let Kobe be Kobe, LeBron be LeBron and not say that they have to be Jordan. It’s not going to happen, but think about it next time you say “Jordan would never have…..”
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