According to the NBA community, one of the biggest differences between LeBron James and Michael Jordan is their approach to the game. While Jordan believed in a relentless, tough-love attitude on the court, LeBron has always been more of a people-pleaser and peacekeeper.
These differences often manifested in their leadership styles and it’s no secret that being a teammate for Mike was much different than being a teammate of LeBron.
On ESPN’s First Take yesterday, Stephen A. Smith highlighted these differences to point out just how different the two players are.
“I don’t care what Frank Vogel has to say about LeBron James particularly in comparison to Michael Jordan because Frank Vogel didn’t become an assistant coach until 2001 if I remember correctly with Boston and he’s getting LeBron at the tail end of LeBron James’ career. When you look at LeBron James and his earlier years in Cleveland, he was truly a kid — played around an awful lot. Remember him, Max, faining like they were taking pictures every time they did something spectacular or at the start of games and all of this other stuff and then when stuff really really got tight those same players didn’t show up because he was busy being so friendly with them that he wasn’t necessarily able to hold them as accountable as he could have.”
He talked about the 2018 Finals, specifically, and how LeBron’s approach in that situation was not even close to something Jordan would have done.
“You can also harken back to the year they lost in the Finals when JR Smith forgot what the damn score was and that the score was tied or whatever the case may be. LeBron James on the bench, pouting up a storm — don’t blame his frustration, very justifiable, but in the same breath it was almost like they had conceded defeat to the Golden State Warriors recognizing that was their chance and all of a sudden he goes into the locker room and he punches and hurts his hand and then after the series is over he announced that his hand had been broken or whatever the case may be. In between that time when Kevin Durant first arrived, giving a concession speech after you won in the Conference Finals against Boston but you have to go up against KD and you sitting there telling them they ask you, you know, whether you looking forward to this he be like ‘I don’t want to think about that now I ain’t trying to stress myself I’m just enjoying this moment.’ You can call that whatever kind of leadership you want but it ain’t MJ ilk, I can promise you that. There were no concession speeches is coming from MJ.”
Say what you want about Stephen A., but he has been consistent on his stance in this particular subject. Minutes after the conclusion of Game 4 of the 2018 Finals, Smith criticized LeBron and the Cavs for basically conceding the title to Golden State, and insisted he didn’t want to heat any more comparisons between LBJ and Mike.
Indeed, not once in his career was Jordan accused of quitting. He not only fought until the bitter end but he made sure his teammates were fighting as well. Jordan was undoubtedly tougher on his teammates and his competition, and it seems he was better off because of it.