LeBron James and Self Sabotage

LeBron James may well go down as one of the best players the NBA has ever seen but I wonder whether he is always that helpful as a team-mate.

The Cavs lost at Detroit Pistons on Tuesday, and here’s what James said afterwards via the good people at cleveland.com.

“We didn’t win anything. We lost. We lost in the Finals. So, that’s enough motivation for myself. I think we need to understand that.

“Like, we lost in the Finals. We didn’t win. And the team that beat us (Golden State Warriors) looks more hungry than we are. So it shouldn’t be that way.”

Previously, he’s labelled their effort levels “half-ass”, and alluded to a sense of entitlement.

Don’t get me wrong – I love watching LeBron James play.  I don’t really buy into the whole ‘greatest of all time’ debate, it’s impossible to compare players when the argument transcends generations.  If pushed I would argue Michael Jordan was better but I don’t know if that’s just because he’s the guy who got me into basketball in the first place, or at least that Bulls team were, as a child in the north of England – which at that time was pretty rare and for a while the NBA felt like ‘my thing’ however ridiculous that may sound.  Am I too old, jaded and cynical to appreciate LeBron in the same way? Probably, and besides, there are far too many variables.  The only way we could truly judge would be to send LeBron back in time to Jordan’s heyday, or freeze His Airness cryogenically and wait for James to catch up in a couple of decades, neither of which is feasible.

But I’ve gone off point.  My argument is this, are these the kinds of comments he should be making about his team-mates – and if so should he be making them publicly?

Granted he’s not naming names but he doesn’t really have to – from the above quotes I take it as him saying “I’m trying, why aren’t you workshy freeloaders when Golden State have been tearing it up since the season started?”

For me these are the things coaches should say in public but players should keep in the locker room. The Warriors and San Antonio Spurs are pretty cohesive units, and so are Chicago – from where I’m sitting the Cavs’ only real rivals for the Eastern Conference – when they get their shit together, but Cleveland at this early stage seem to be lacking in the same spirit and James may be part of, rather than the solution to, that particular problem.

Cleveland are the bookies’ favourites but I reckon that’s just because the Eastern Conference is the weaker of the two and they’re taking it as a given that they’ll reach the Finals again, which may be true.  At this early stage though, a few cracks seem to be developing in the Cavs camp and maybe LeBron needs to find a way to help motivate his buddies other than publicly berating them if he is to win a third Championship and a first with the Cavs.

I could be wrong – I just know if I was on his team I might get a bit pissed off at having my desire questioned at regular intervals.

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  1. Above the Cylinder · November 18, 2015

    I can’t speak to James’ ability as a motivator, but, as frustrating as it is, players flock around him as something of a leader. Then again, that could simply be because of his play on the court.
    As for his berating his teammates, I was actually mildly surprised that it hasn’t drawn the same waste of attention that it did last year. Beyond what you quoted above, James provided further criticism of his teammates last night (via nba.com): “You have to be mentally tough, and that means performing at the best of your abilities at all times. We’ve got some guys who do that all the time, and some guys who don’t.”
    Personally, I think it’s a little ridiculous to make these sorts of comments when you’re 8-3. Considering that he had two turnovers in the last minute against the Pistons when only down one point, it was also a rather strangely-timed complaint. But when you’re “the king,” you apparently can say and do what you want without question.


  2. Pingback: Gonzo Sports Weird News Digest; Manny Pacquiao, Cristiano Ronaldo and a Hull City flop | Gonzo Sports Desk

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