Is LeBron James too nice for his own good?

jack-warden-twilight-zone-baseballThere’s an old Twilight Zone episode that goes a little something like this.

A scientist constructs the perfect baseball player. He is so unhittable that not a single opponent can reach base against him. When other teams in the league find out that he’s actually a machine and not a man, they contest the rule book and the demand the doctor install a heart. Once ‘human,’ the pitcher can never strike out another batter because, with a heart, he feels sympathy.

The greatest NBA Champions have all had heart but they have also had another key overriding factor: killer instinct. Every time Larry Bird took the floor, he wanted to destroy his opponent’s will. Same with Magic Johnson. Magic may have killed you with kindness but that smile was just a cover. He wanted to rip your heart out.

The same can be said for all NBA champions. Isiah Thomas would stop at nothing to win. Michael Jordan might be the most competitive man to walk the planet. Kobe Bryant would not rest until he led his Lakers to a championship without his former sidekick, Shaquille O’Neal. Tim Duncan might look like a nice guy but don’t kid yourself. Even Dwyane Wade willed himself to an NBA Championship early in his career.

That’s what it takes in the Association. It’s cutthroat. Man’s game. The will to win at all costs. After seven years in the league, however, fans are dying to know: Does LeBron James have what it takes?

lebron-james-over-tayshaun-princeThe sport hasn’t really seen anything like LeBron. The body of a forward combined with the skill of a guard make him nearly impossible to stop anytime he touches the ball. He is a freak of nature. The problem is he’s also a really nice guy. He’s always joking, smiling, clowning around.

As insane as it sounds when talking about a guy who’s averaging 30 points, 7 rebounds and 8 assists a game, James probably hasn’t even reached his full potential.

He’s too good a player to imagine ending his career without winning a championship, isn’t he? It just wouldn’t seem fair. But if LeBron doesn’t win it all this year, his final contract year in Cleveland, the entire city will stand by with bated breath to see if he’ll re-sign or take his show elsewhere. Cleveland fans are already on the edge of their seats and not because he’s pouring in thirty a night. It’s amazing they can get a good night’s sleep, anxiously awaiting an impending break up.

We’ve heard all the speculation: LeBron to the Knicks; LeBron to the Nets, LeBron to play with his friend Dwyane Wade. As difficult as it is to put all that on the back burner, there’s still a season to be played out. While the Cavs may have the best record in the Eastern Conference, they did last year as well and that only resulted in a loss to Orlando. Unfortunately for LeBron, the Magic, Hawks and Celtics aren’t going anywhere and that’s just the Eastern Conference. Winning the East might only mean a potential meeting with Mount Kobe, a Finals that Nike and the networks were craving last year.

If LeBron doesn’t win it all this year, then what, other than soul-searching? I say let’s enjoy the playoffs but how can we knowing that with every loss, LeBron James edges closer to making a decision that will affect the entire league.

michael_jordan_trophy_ringsWith all due respect to Bill Russell, the modern measuring stick for NBA greatness is Michael Jordan’ six Finals appearances and zero losses and LeBron is already behind the 8-ball. We’ve seen it all too often. Hall of Famers like Charles Barkley, Reggie Miller, Dominique Wilkins and Patrick Ewing all carry the moniker, the burden of never winning a title. Fair or not, legacy in the NBA is measured by one thing: ring count.

This June, Bron Bron might want to add a little killer instinct to his repertoire. Whether he stays in Cleveland or not next season, he might just be on the outside of an NBA title once again. Is LeBron simply too nice or in this competitive league, are the cards stacked against him? Is LeBron James too nice for his own good?

45 thoughts on “Is LeBron James too nice for his own good?

  1. Chris

    LeBron says he wants to be …….’ global marketing icon ‘. My suggestion to him …shut up and win something first’. Then you can make all the ‘jack’ you want.

    Alan Parkins

  2. Chris


    Any truth to the rumor that those hotties on the US alpine ski team are now going to jello wrestle each other ?

    Lindsay Vonn and Julie Mancuso are mighty fine and P-H-A-T !

    Alan Parkins

  3. Great read as always Chris. When asking if Lebron will stay with the Cavs, I think you just need to look at the list to see the other measuring stick of greatness. Bird, Magic, Isiah, Kobe, Duncan and Wade not only won championships but they won them with the team that drafted them (I know Kobe was drafted by Charlotte but he was traded on draft day and has only known the Lakers). Jordan ended his career with the Wizards but that was just PR. He did his damage with the team that drafted him.

    For Lebron to enter that stratosphere he not only needs MULTIPLE championships but he needs to win them with Cleveland and he has to be THE man. Kobe needed his ring without Shaq so i don’t think lebron can just go and play with Wade in Miami and win. It just wouldn’t count the same way.

    I think Lebron stays in Cleveland, they get Chris Bosh and they win at least two championships.

  4. Interesting take, my friend.. I don’t know how I feel about this personally. I mean yes he jokes around with the team and does all those little pre-game things, but I can’t help but think about that mini-dark side that he does have…. you know, not shaking hands, avoiding the media and things like that… I mean, a nice guy would be there putting on a happy face, no?

  5. Al… speaking of marketing icons, the PTI boys, sans Kornheiser, raised an interesting question today.

    Did the PGA Tour overmarket Tiger? I would think not? They clearly benefited from his presence and he was a draw unlike they had ever seen.

    Re: Bron Bron, I agree and disagree. Your boy Duncan has won four titles and I don’t see him selling Cadillacs on national tv.

  6. Frank… I’ll etch that in stone.

    I also think LBJ stays home. Aside from the fact that he’s an Akron kid, jumping ship doesn’t make much sense.

    He’s got the talent around him this year but winnin’ in the NBA ain’t easy.

    I’m also not sold that Bosh is a surefire guarantee of a title. I like him but they’d still need camaraderie and a healthy supporting cast.

    In the meantime, Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic aren’t going anywhere.

  7. KP… these might be growing pains for him. Jordan had his. Heck, even Peyton Manning left the Super Bowl without meeting players midfield.

    It takes champions SERIOUS losses to develop that desire. Has BronBron felt enough to make it happen this year?

    These Finals might not be as dramatic were it not for the long-awaited 2010 off-season. But if he doesn’t bring it home, expect that to be the BIGGEST story of the summer.

  8. Al… who’s not putting a beatdown on the Celtics. I mean the Nets just did.

    I’m still not sold on the Cavs as world beaters.

    It’s NBA title or nothing. Anything less would be a disappointment.

  9. Chris

    Doc Rivers had better pull his finger out of his sphinctre before the Grousbecks ship him off to Uzbeikistan or Armenia.

    I here that either place is meant to be nice at this time of the year ?

    Al Parkins

  10. THis article is a thinly veiled attempt for this hack writer to become the news. In the great tradition of Steven A. Who? we’ll throw out a line about LBJ going to NY and let the fans take it from there. Well when is the last time you heard from Steven A.? The reason is LBJ ain’t going anywhere, nor is Wade, or Melo. No there simply is no news here, and when that fact comes out these numb nutz no talent hacks will simply go away. As far as being nice I guess leading the league in 4th qtr points is the best stat to throw at that, but more than that, LBJ has an option not open to Kobe or Wade….to flat out run your skinny azz over, in a nice way of course.

  11. Chris

    I guess the Trib’s Roy Cummings won’t be winning a Pullitzer anytime soon ? But then again I could well be wrong. What the hell is wrong with this guy ? How close is nose the Glazers’ sphincters ?

    Experts say picking Berry can bear fruit

    INDIANAPOLIS – Monte Kiffin’s answer was short and sweet.

    “He looked me in the eye,” former Tennessee safety Eric Berry said of the former Bucs and Volunteers defensive coordinator, “and told me I’d be a fool to come back (to college for my senior season).”

    Kiffin’s former brethren in the NFL seem to agree.

    As the league’s Scouting Combine neared its conclusion Sunday, most draft analysts had Berry rated as one of the best all-around players in this year’s talent pool.

    “He impacts the game,” Rams general manager Billy Devaney said. “I think in everybody’s mind he impacts the game. And that’s what you want. You want impact players, and he’s certainly one of them.”

    Just how much Berry will eventually impact the draft is hard to say. He is a safety, and as a general rule, Devaney said, safeties aren’t usually picked very high.

    Since the dawn of the new millennium, only six safeties have been among the first 15 players chosen in the draft. Berry, however, considers himself to be more than just a safety.

    “If you want to get into positions, I played every position in the defensive backfield in Coach Kiffin’s scheme,” Berry said. “You could also say I played a little linebacker.

    “So free safety, strong safety, a nickel corner for three years; I’ve also played true corner, so I feel I bring a lot to the table and have a lot to offer the team that picks me up.”

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    Someone ought to remind Roy of the Bucs’ precarious financial position . They’re more likely to trade down than take Berry or any other presumed ‘elite player’ with their pick. Is he (Cummings) that dumb or what ?

    Morris and Dominik are screwed at present because of ownership !

    Alan Parkins

  12. Alrighty, Steve. FINALLY some healthy debate.

    Look, man. I love me some LeBron and the piece was not intended to start any rumors about where any of these guys might end up next year.

    As I mentioned, it’s all speculation and I respect LeBron for nipping all that talk in the bud at the beginning of the season.

    The question is whether Bron has that killer instinct. That one playoff game against the Pistons a few years back where he scored 25 of his team’s last 27 points, or whatever it was, was the most impressive post-season performance I, or probably anybody, has ever seen.

    All I’m saying is let’s see this kid WILL his team to a title. The greats have. I think he can but he has to show it.

    Leading the league in 4th quarter scoring is fine and dandy. He’s probably also leading the league in 1st, 2nd and 3rd quarter scoring. I’d like to also see his shot attempts in the 4th quarter, as well as FG%.

    Come by again in June and let’s see how our boy does when it matters most.

  13. Agreed, Al. I expect the Bucs, as well as the other top teams to all trade down.

    Maybe Dallas and Washington, the only teams with owners with money to spend will end up loading up on first round draft picks.

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  15. I thought it was timely to report this one, Al. He needs to come strong tonight.

    And by the looks of that title, I’m guessing you wrote a little something about Mr. Cushing.

    Be right over.

  16. LBJ seems awfully reluctant to assert himself, except in Game 3. If I was a sports gambler, I’d swear he was tanking.

  17. I totally agree with you that Lebron hasn’t developed that killer instinct. Your post reminded me a lot of an article the Wojekowsi wrote over on Yahoo.

    He pretty much put this pressure on himself. Making the Cavs do everything in their power to keep him, and not letting on what he’s thinking about the off-season. I guess we will see tonight what he’s made of. If he folds like a chair it will hurt his image, and I think he will end up wanting a fresh start since it sounds like the city of Cleveland already hates him…

  18. Chris

    Anyone who believes that LeBron doesn’t possess a “killer instinct” simply doesn’t understand him as a person. He’s a devout and sensitive person. He’s kind to animals and children and wants to be seen as a role model. Furthermore he does his best to entertain us in as many ways as is possible .

    Kinda reminds of one of his present day peers doesn’t peers doesn’t it ? Oops ! Tiger Woods wasn’t meant to be the example but there you have it !

    Wait ’til the story drops that he was ‘nailin’ multiple chicks at the same time ? That ought to make for some interesting print and fodder for the paparazzi.

    Chicks Dig The Long Ball ……….. Guys Who Are Fans of The Game Drink Beer And Love The Chicks Who Dig The Long Ball

    Alan Parkins

  19. Chappy… the city of Cleveland is in mourning.

    Meanwhile, the city of Orlando has home court advantage in the Eastern Conference Finals.

    And I’ll be there.

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  21. Chris

    Gloria James says she’s not a “cougar” and it was a genuine mistake to try and break in one of her son’s teammates . She normally reserves that renowned privilege for members of LeBron’s entourage .

    No word as of yet if Shaq fits the profile .

    Alan Parkins

  22. Chris Humpherys

    Oden is already taken as Joan Rivers likes a bit of mocha chocolate .

    How comes LeBron’s mom didn’t do an Anna Benson and simply say she’d have sex with the entire Cavs’ roster including LeBron . That’s an Oedipus complex if ever there was going to be one !

    Does that now mean the LBJ refers to Delonte` as my new dad just because he may have ‘tagged’ LBJ’s mama ?

    He’s Got Game …………. The Magic Are Who We Thought They Were It’s Just That Now They’re Proving To Us That They’re Simply Just Not That Good !

    Alan Parkins

  23. Al…

    You’re not suggesting that Greg Oden snapped those nudies of himself and sent them to Joan Rivers, are you?

    I think I just threw up in my mouth.

  24. We’ll see if he can develop some killer instinct in Florida. All this talk of how he want’s a ring, well, he’s gonna have to dig deep for it if he wants it.

  25. Humphreys, you are right those people will go nuts if he doesn’t deliver year one. And I think clamoring is a word. But what do I know, I’m no English professor.

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