Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Kobe a winner-Yes! LeBron-we'll see.

Face it, Kobe Bryant doesn't care about accolades.  He cares about winning.  Now I don't know this by talking to him ala Stephen A Smith or Chris Bouchard.  I know this because I know one thing, when you see Kobe you fully understand that he is cut out of the same cloth as Magic, Michael, Bill Russell and greats from other sports like Derek Jeter, Wayne Gretzky, Curt Schilling, Joe Montana, Jack Nicklaus, and Richard Petty.  They guy is here for one thing, win and that is win, no matter what.  So what if he hurts Pau's feelings by comparing him to a long-necked bird (black swan).  So what if he shoots less then 40% in games.  Remember game 7 last year.  His shot was, well, it sucked, but his leadership, grit and hustle willed the Lakers to the win.  Kobe doesn't care about friends on the court.  He cares about the final outcome.  Phil Jackson may be the conductor, but Kobe is the lead vocalist in a choir or the lead violin in the symphony's string section.  The other members want to win, but most of all they don't want to mess up for fear that they may have to face the "music".  Phil would probably just embarass or chide them in the press, but Kobe will confront them and embarass them on the practice court by dunking over them, pushing them or just giving them a hard time.

LeBron on the other hand is not a loser, but he is not a winner either.  At least not in the championship sense of the word.  There have been many "winners" but not "champions".  Dan Marino, great quarterback, a winner, but not a champion.  Charles Barkley is a lot of things even a winner, but not a champion.  Steve Nash, wow what great passes and clutch play-a real winner (in the regular season) but no champion.  LeBron fits it to a tee.  He is a winner-in the regular season.  He puts up stats that harken back to Elgin, Oscar, or Michael but he is more Elgin than Michael.  Alot of talent and regular season wins, but unable to win the big one.  Don't give me the line about talent surrounding him.  Cleveland had the best record 2 years ago and still couldn't get to the finals.  LeBron plays hard and physically is one of the most gifted to play the game.  But, when crunch time comes, he doesn't seem to know what to do-shoot? Drive?  Pass the ball?  Right now D-Wade is a much better option at the end of the game.  You see, LeBron puts his huge numbers up in the first 46 minutes of the game not really the last 2.  Until LeBron wins a championship, he cannot be in the same breath as Kobe when it comes to legacy.  He does fit in with Karl Malone, John Stockton, Charles Barkley, Elgin Baylor, etc.  However, when you mention those stars you think immense talent but the final thought is no ring at the end of the day.  I mean Malone is known for toughness durability, strength and driving a big rig.  I think he would turn in any one of his diesels for one ring.  Right now, it is hard to tell how much LeBron wants it.  Whether he cried the other night or not, he needs to stop worrying about being an iconic brand (see the Nike commericials) or the new villian of the NBA.  You can be both villian and hero to NBA fans and still win a championship-just ask Kobe, Larry B, and Isaiah Thomas.  LeBron should be "willing" his team to win just as past stars (see Magic or Hakeem) or current stars (see Kobe or even Paul Pierce).  Yes, the surrounding talent may not be tops in the league, but Bibby, Miller and the rest of the group aren't D-League rejects.  Balance is part of  LeBron's game-scoring, passing, rebouding, defending, etc.  He just needs to add one more thing to the recipe-an I don't care about anything other than winning attitude.  Simple.  If his Nikes don't sell, who cares.  If Pat Riley steps in as coach, who cares.  If he does miss an occasional game winning shot, who cares.  Shake it off and know that the ball in his hands most of the time produces great things.  He just needs to walk the walk at playoff time.  Being pretty and popular in the regular season produces fun and MVP's, but having heart and guts in the playoffs leads to rings, fulfillment, and finally a legacy that few have achieved.

Kobe is not LeBron and LeBron is not Kobe.  2 different players in style and really in leadership.  LeBron gently prods his teammates.  Kobe yells, cajoles and pushes them harder than most coaches.  However, he is tougher on himself than anyone else on that team.  If Kobe loses than so be it, he will take responsibility and rest in the fact that he left everything on the floor.  LeBron on the other hand, loses something in the translation.  He may play hard but it ends there.  Kobe leaves pieces of himself on the floor every night.  LeBron leaves crumbs one nite and than large chunks of himself the next.  Maybe LeBron will wake up and wake up his Heat teammates to make a run.  However, as Kobe understands, it must start with him and end with him.  I hope LeBron can truly aspire and achieve a legacy in basketball that Kobe has already achieved and is consistently moving up the ladder.  Next, is Kobe worthy of comparisions to his Airness?

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