Why LeBron may never become Kobe
For the last few years the biggest debate in basketball has been: Who is the best player in the league, Kobe or LeBron? I have been team LeBron since ESPN first showed his high school game back in 2003. I never really been a Kobe guy because he tries too hard to imitate Michael Jordan; I can’t respect man that doesn’t want to mold his own legacy, however I always respected Kobe’s ability. On the same coin, I always thought that LeBron James’ ability would far surpass that of Kobe Bean Bryant and after seven years I’m starting to think I was wrong.
LeBron is a freak of nature at 6’8 260 with speed, vision, quickness, and amazing leaping ability all on a solid frame. His game appears nearly flawless…nearly. The only chink in his armor, LeBron’s Achilles’ heel is his inability to shoot consistently. Coming out of high school everyone said that his shooting would get better with time and practice. While it did get better it is nowhere near solid. This could be attributed to his lack of solid coaching *cough* Mike Brown is an idiot *cough*but honestly how hard is LeBron working at it.
At the beginning of the year ESPN ran a story on Kobe reaching out to Hakeem Olajowon to help him on his back to the basket game over the summer. This gave me a new respect for Kobe. It showed me a guy that was willing to do what it took to expand his offensive game in order to compensate for him getting up in age. I don’t see the same commitment from LeBron. Although I’m no shooting expert it appears to me that LeBron’s inconsistency in his jumper comes from his bad shooting form. That seems like something that could be corrected with spending a summer or two with a shooting coach. Maybe LeBron thinks he can win a championship by just driving to the hole and crying about getting foul shots. I get the feeling LeBron spends his summers trying to “build his global brand.”
The other thing that sets Kobe apart from LeBron is what Skip Bayless likes to call the “clutch gene.” The clutch gene is that killer instinct, that closers mentality that players are just born with. Kobe has it, LeBron does not. LeBron will fill up the stat sheet but late in games he can’t finish. I honestly believe that stems from his lack of confidence in the mid-range jumper (and free throw shooting.) Think about it how many times have you seen Kobe drain a mid range two pointer at the buzzer? Plenty. How about LeBron? Ehh. LeBron can drive to the lane and draw a foul whenever he feels the need but late in games he is more likely to pull up for three. Why? I don’t think he wants to stand at the free throw line and knock down shots under pressure. Kobe on the other hand lives for those moments.
This is why Kobe is the better player. As phony as Kobe may come off, nobody can deny his desire to win. If 5 seconds are left on the clock he wants the ball in his hands and he is taking the shot. Yes LeBron makes his teammates better but at the end of games his teammates are looking to him to close and it appears he cannot. It has been seven years since LeBron has entered the NBA and I don’t see any real growth. The things LeBron is doing, passing/dunking/being physical, are all things we expected from him coming into the league. Maybe him being called the King since he was 15 years old gave him a since of entitlement where he feels he doesn’t have to work on his jumper. If he doesn’t start to dedicate his summers fixing his shooting form to becoming a better shooter I think it is safe to say LeBron James has reached his peak. Without NBA championships let see how long the media and marketing execs love the King.