A new video edit of Michael Jordan lecturing and scolding LeBron James in a spoof of LeBron’s “Rise” Nike commercial has become a YouTube sensation and has sparked debate once again about whether James’ decision to join forces with All-Stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will always be viewed as a shortcut to free himself of full accountability in Cleveland and has tainted his legacy forever, regardless of how many championships he might win.
Check it out HERE, folks.
For reference check out the original LeBron “Rise” commercial HERE.
Throughout the new video (which was NOT made by Jordan, of course) Jordan briefly mentions the trials and tribulations he endured to reach the pinnacle of the sport and that maybe he did an injustice to today’s players by making it seem as if it were all “flash” or “God-given talent”.
You didn’t destroy the game, MJ. It’s just that you and all the former NBA legends set an unbelievable precedent that many of today’s stars can’t comprehend. Not all of them, of course – just those employed by the Miami Heat.
When LeBron James decided to join the Miami Heat via “The Decision” on national television, scorning the Cleveland Cavaliers in a manner that hadn’t been witnessed since the Shaquille O’Neal free-agency event in 1996, he invited unbelievable amounts of criticism into his world that had never existed. This condemnation was delivered from nearly everyone other than the Heat faithful – fans, columnists, bloggers, and former legends of the NBA such as Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan spoke out against the self-proclaimed “King” in negative fashion and as the Heat continue their struggles this season, culminating in last night’s loss to the Mavericks, the barrage of insults have only increased.
Charles Barkley struck first after the Heat trio signed, issuing this statement:
“Let me just tell you this,” Barkley said. “Mike and I are in 100 percent agreement on this. If you’re the two-time defending NBA MVP, you don’t leave anywhere. They come to you. That’s ridiculous.
“I like LeBron. He’s a great player. But I don’t think in the history of sports you can find a two-time defending MVP leaving to go play with other people.”
Then came comments made by Michael Jordan at a golf tournament regarding LeBron’s defection from Cleveland, which must have been especially hurtful as James has never hid is adoration for Jordan and desire to build his “Brand” in the same manner:
“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.”
(Speaking of LeBron’s “Brand”, he continues to play to this whole “King James” theme with his newly designed logo – check it out HERE. Shouldn’t this guy be more focused on delivering at least ONE title first? Geesh.)
Looking back on other amazing talent combinations that were forced together through trade by player unrest before free-agency it’s easy to see where the critics are going with all of this. Oscar Robertson essentially forced himself out of Cincinnati to team with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and deliver a title to Milwaukee. Wilt Chamberlain did the same as he teamed with West and Baylor in Los Angeles. Both moves were not embraced (judging by articles I’ve read) by other NBA cities and the 2010 free-agency bonanza has inspired the same loathing responses and also reeks of being pre-determined – as if Wade, Bosh, and James have known since 2006 that this was the path they wanted to travel all along.
I believe this to be true, by the way. Their partnership looks impeccably staged and I’m not sure if I’ll ever be convinced otherwise.
Now, with the Heat mired in a losing streak that even ardent haters like myself didn’t believe was possible we have been given the gift that is this awesome clip that simply rips LeBron apart from the moment Jordan opens his mouth to the “You’re just making excuses” conclusion. This couldn’t be more perfect, could it?
This was obviously a collaboration of older Jordan commentary from 2008 and LeBron’s commercial but the message rings loud and clear: LeBron in many ways is simply a spoiled, arrogant, self-centered jock who has never held himself accountable and very clearly took (what he thought) the easy way out to joining the legendary icons of the NBA with a fist full of rings. This is not to say that James has not put the work into his craft because I’m sure he has to a degree and has more to do with his mental makeup and very obvious insecurities. James believes he should be included among the all-time greats without enduring the same failures they fought through and eventually conquered.
I love this video edit, regardless of whether Jordan approves or not, because it illustrates perfectly what made Jordan a legend and James a public-relations and clutch-moment failure. Jordan’s drive, competitive nature, intense work ethic, and desire to beat the best regardless of how brutal his competition may have been puts LeBron and Miami’s super-trio to shame. I believe Jordan, Bird, Barkley and the rest when they say they would have never joined forces. They understood that their greatness would always be tied to each other in some indefinable way that LeBron, Wade, and this new crop of stars never will.
It is what has made Kobe Bryant one of the premier players of this or any generation – his killer-instinct is unmatched in today’s NBA and while I’m not a fan of Bryant the person I can’t deny his greatness on the hardwood.
Yeah, I’m as “LeBron’d” out as the rest of you and hopefully will be able to steer away from James-related features in the near future, but watching this video made me realize how I yearn for the old-time NBA days when rivalries reigned supreme and players cared more about their on-court performances than their off-court image – I realize that a players endorsement potential was and always will be important but with the dawn of the internet-age all this “branding” has become quite ridiculous. Jordan managed to attain cult status both on and off the court, which I was very lucky and privileged to witness during my younger days.
If LeBron is smart he will heed the words of Michael Jordan in this video and focus one-hundred percent on the basketball court for the first time in his life. He may not win back all of his fans over the next few years if he does this but at least James can force us to appreciate his immense basketball talent.
What’s really sad is that I doubt that “King” James will ever listen.
UPDATE: For those of you who have read my columns previously you know that I’m definitely not LeBron’s biggest fan – if you’re interested I’ve included the link to my column written shortly after James called out Coach Spoelstra for playing himself and Wade too many minutes: “LeBron James suffocating in South Beach heat”.