City Sports Report

Michael, Kobe, LeBron: You Can’t Win

Kobe graced the Grantland Basketball Hour with his presence and talked all things basketball (photo courtesy of

Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers, who was a guest recently on the Grantland Basketball Hour with Jalen Rose and Bill Simmons, was there to talk about his career and what he thinks about things going on in today’s NBA. He spoke glowingly about Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder and his style of play, touched on his relationship and times with Shaq, and also touched on the dynamic of how things are thought in the media. When talking about the dynamics of basketball and the thoughts on when people speak on the “who’s team it is” conversation, he had this to say: “I honestly don’t understand it. We want players to be part of a group, part of a team. But when they win, people are quick to say that well, it wasn’t your team. Makes no sense. You cannot have it both ways.” When you think about the comments that Kobe made, he definitely has a point. And to take his point even further, fans and media seem to paint a picture with selective memory of what a player did or didn’t have or did or didn’t do. The media helps to drive those points home to many that eat up those conversations. Sometimes, players just cannot win with the fans. It just is what it is.

Michael Jordan was on the opposite end of the spectrum. He seemed to win in every basketball argument out there. Jordan was one of the best players of all-time. He won six championship (two three-peats) and some even believe he would have won eight in a row if he would not have taken two years off to try his hand at baseball. But in the legend that was Michael Jordan, many got the story all confused. Some conveniently thought that because he was the best player on the planet at the time, he did things by himself. And the media did not do much to disprove that thought. But if you really take a look at the whole picture, the truth is he would not have won any of those championships without having another great player by his side in Scottie Pippen. Pippen was mostly in the shadow of Jordan for his career in Chicago, but when he emerged versus the Pistons finally, that’s when the Bulls finally took over the East and started their run. Jordan could not ever do anything alone, as great as he was. And many seem to forget that he needed help. And it seems that many look toward him supposedly carrying the Bulls all those years by himself as the standard.

Kobe experienced some of what he spoke about when he was with the Lakers. When the Lakers were winning, there was always the talk of who was the man of that team. Many sided with Shaq at that time while some thought Kobe was the best thing since sliced bread. At that point, it was decided that even if the Lakers were to win, it would still be Shaq’s team and he was the reason. Eventually Shaq and Kobe would grow tired of their working relationship and the Lakers would choose Kobe to lead their team. And when he took over, many expected him to be great and lead that team to a championship. Well, things did not exactly work out the way he thought they would at first. The team was not at a championship level and the team was not as good as they were before. He was supposed to do it by himself according to the media and because he did not, he failed. But the Lakers made a few trades and ended up with star big man Pau Gasol. That trade along with the health of big man Andrew Bynum helped elevate Kobe back to the level he wanted to be at again: a champion. No one made a big deal of him needing help to win the championship actually, but the fact remained he did not do it by himself at all. He needed a team. But conveniently people tend to forget that. He could not win at first, but then he began to win.

But in the case of LeBron James, it seems like he can never win with fans. When he was in Cleveland the first time, he was taking the Cleveland Cavaliers to a new level. He carried them each and every season, with the team getting to the NBA Finals on his back once and routinely being one of the top teams in the East. Yet, when they failed, it was always about how LeBron did not come through in the clutch when it mattered the most. He was supposed to be able to do it on his own while others before him had help along the way. But then LeBron decided to leave and headed to Miami to play with star guard and friend Dwyane Wade and power forward Chris Bosh. As soon as this happened, many began to look at LeBron in a different light than before. Gone was the love affair the media had with him and entered the talk of LeBron needing help to win a title. People reveled in Miami’s loses while hating it when they won. It was viewed that they were supposed to win when they did and a celebration when they lost. When the Heat won their titles, some would actually go as far as to devalue his championships because he played with another great player or two at his side. And now that he is in Cleveland, many are already starting to discredit what he is doing there by saying he always needs help and others didn’t need help at all.

Michael Jordan always won with the fans. Kobe started off a little rough and then came out on the bright side for most fans. As far as LeBron, he seems to be still fighting some of the backlash that some still hold against him from going to Miami. But ultimately, he may want to just subscribe to the fact that he cannot win with everyone. It just is not possible. Jordan probably had some that hated his guts as well. Maybe one day LeBron will realize that you cannot win with the fans and their perceptions of how you won. Kobe has come to grips with how crazy it is. Michael never had to go through it as much. LeBron still has not understood it. Sometimes, you just cannot win.

Hey LeBron, listen to Michael Jackson, he will tell you the truth on fans:

For more sports talk, follow me on Twiter @General_MP or check me out on Facebook at Mike Patton-The General .


  1. Rob Thomas Brown

    February 26, 2015 at 4:38 pm

    You’ve said it all, in basketball some fans, media see the athleticism and forget about teamwork

  2. jason

    February 26, 2015 at 4:44 pm

    They all had help…… I think LeBron is put on a pedestal by the media. …..but that’s just me.

    • Mike Patton

      February 26, 2015 at 10:44 pm

      Jordan was the one put on the pedestal before any of them

  3. ASR

    February 26, 2015 at 4:51 pm

    Trial in the court of public opinion people are easily lead by the popular vote. LBJ is one of the greatest players of all time and that can’t be denied.

  4. Rasul

    February 26, 2015 at 10:16 pm

    The perception of LBJ will change if he wins in Cleveland.

    • Mike Patton

      February 26, 2015 at 10:42 pm

      Just like it was to change when he won a title or finally got over the humo right? To some fans, it will never change. They will find something else to gripe about in regards to LeBron

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