As a Knicks fan, it kills me to say this but...Michael Jordan is exactly correct.
The latest Big Three backlash came Sunday from none other than Michael Jordan, who contributed his weighty opinion to the debate about whether LeBron James should've teamed up with two superstars instead of trying to beat them.
"There's no way, with hindsight, I would've ever called up Larry, called up Magic and said, 'Hey, look, let's get together and play on one team,'" Jordan said after finishing tied for 22nd in the American Century Championship golf tournament in Stateline, Nev. "But that's ... things are different. I can't say that's a bad thing. It's an opportunity these kids have today. In all honesty, I was trying to beat those guys."
The thing about LeBron is that he has consciously modeled himself on Jordan's career. That means that he's supposed to be the guy who's taking the last shot at the end of games. He's the leader in the locker room. Most importantly, he's taking slightly less money to help his franchise bring a supporting cast to him and his team.
Instead, Bron-Bron decided to join the three-headed monster in Miami. More and more, the free agent summit Bosh, Wade and James held in June looks like just a cheesey attempt to rig the system to get their spoiled-brat way. While it's not collusion in the legal sense, it looks really bad. Perception in the NBA is really important. LeBron has done great damage to the way he is perceived by non-Heat fans nowadays.
The idea that James is the next coming of Michael Jordan has been forever tarnished by him leaving Cleveland to join Wade and Bosh in Miami. In MJ's Chicago, there was no doubt who was taking the big shot at the end of games. It wasn't Horace Grant and it sure wasn't Scottie Pippen. On and off the floor, Jordan was the undisputed leader of the Bulls.
One more thing: Jordan never left Chicago to team up with his buddies. He just went out and beat everybody. He whipped absolutely phenomenal players in the most pressure-filled situations. Look at who he defeated in order to get his championships. Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Clyde Drexler, Charles Barkley, Tom Chambers, Shawn Kemp, Gary Payton, John Stockton and Karl Malone: These are just some of the all-world players MJ beat in order to win his hardware. That doesn't take into account playoff series wins and conference championships, where he scored victories against mega-stars like Larry Bird, Patrick Ewing and Isiah Thomas.
Compare Jordan's resume to LeBron's curriculum vitae. He hasn't beaten anybody. No last second heroics, no monster performances to carry his team and no rings. Sure, he's been stellar in the regular season. But god-like players aren't born beating up on the Nets or the Kings in the middle of a December road trip.
One gets the feeling that LeBron has little interest in being 'the guy' and much more interest in getting paid. This is weird considering that everybody connected with him keeps telling us he's the greatest player in the world. It's hard to be the number 1 star when you're a supporting cast member in somebody else's show. I think James is going to be in for a rude awakening as NBA fans rethink Bron-Bron's place in the basketball world's hierarchy of stars.
Congratulations LeBron. You've just turned yourself into a second tier star. Enjoy being Dwayne Wade's caddie.