The Sports Informant

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The ‘Decision’ throws wrench in Kobe’s plot to overtake MJ

By Michael Selling
Sports Informant Contributing Writer

Every one of the all-time greats had something to say about the “Decision” that LeBron James made over the summer to form a super trio in South Beach.

They all seemed to echo the same chorus. They acted like a group of bank robbers who needed to get their stories straight before being interrogated by the feds. They questioned it, and said that they never would have made the ultimate sacrifice like Lebron did because their competitive spirits wouldn’t allow them to.

First Michael Jordan said, “There’s no way in hindsight I would have called up Larry and Magic and say, ‘Hey let’s get together and play on one team.’ In all honesty, I was trying to beat those guys, I don’t know if they would have been on my team.”

A little while later Magic jumped on the bashing bandwagon saying, “We didn’t think about it cause that’s not what we were about.”

Then, and who didn’t expect this to happen, Sir Charles stepped in to give his two cents. Barkley’s comments were loud and brash, obviously aimed at standing out of the bunch. He repeated what Jordan said about not wanting to play with his competitors, called LeBron’s “Decision” special a “punk move,” and said, “I think he should have stayed in Cleveland; him joining Dwayne Wade’s team was disappointing to me.”

All of these comments lead one to believe that the legends of this game might have something to fear. That something is the Miami Heat.

But in all actuality, if anyone is secretly delighted with LeBron’s decision, it should be Michael Jordan. Rather than taking shots at LBJ, he should take him out to dinner.

No, it isn’t because he decided not to go to Chicago to try and steal MJ’s glory and deface the statue that sits out front of the United Center. It’s not because he changed his number from MJ’s number 23 to his own No. 6. And it’s definitely not because LeBron and company are going to get more than six rings.

The reason is simple, and it is clear to see in Jordan’s comments and his ultimate desire to be the best. Jordan left the game on top, widely considered the best basketball player ever with six championships and five MVP awards. Jordan could not be bested during his career, not by anyone. But leaving the best didn’t mean he would remain the best, and just as he had done to the greats before him, his legacy would be threatened by someone else.

That someone is not LeBron James. LeBron blew that by not winning in Cleveland. LeBron blew that when he bowed out to Dwight Howard and Orlando in the 2009 NBA playoffs. That staggering loss sent the “King” into a weakening relationship with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the only team that he had the opportunity to surpass MJ with.

The real threat to MJ’s legacy is Kobe Bryant.

Kobe is the “Scar” to Jordan’s “Mufasa.” Kobe was a young, fresh-faced teenager who looked up to Jordan and was overcome by jealousy at Jordan’s reign. He secretly dreamed that one day he could own the kingdom of the NBA, and that dream is on the brink of becoming a reality.

Kobe is only one championship away from tying MJ’s six, and getting more than one is not outside of the realm of possibility. He is only 6,503 points away from overtaking Jordan in scoring, which he could do by scoring a measly 1,083 points per season for six more seasons, something he has done every season except two. He stands at eight All-Defensive First Team awards, only one shy of Jordan’s nine. In many respects, Kobe seems to be in sniffing distance of Jordan’s greatness.

But LeBron’s “Decision” might have played a huge factor in preserving Jordan’s legacy, for now at least. In a way, LeBron played the role of Simba. He entered the league, the year that MJ left, and seven years later, he might have done the only thing that could have possibly prevented Kobe from completing the treacherous plot that he so longed for.

As much as Kobe doesn’t want to acknowledge it, LeBron has dealt a devastating blow to his plan. The ring that was destined to be placed on Kobe’s other hand, the one that would finally allow him to be on the same level as “His Greatness,” will not be coming. This ring that means so much to two of the game’s best, will be shipped to a coast, but it won’t be the west coast.

Barring any unforeseen injuries to Miami’s “Big Three,” that ring will be headed to Miami. As much as people want to hate and say it won’t happen, it’s a sure thing. The venom spewed at LeBron this summer was just what he needed to fuel him, and teaming up with an NBA champion like Dwayne Wade, along with a stud big man like Chris Bosh, will ensure that.

At 32 years of age, Kobe knows that he only has a few years to get the job done before injuries and the grind of so many years in the league finally takes its toll. LeBron’s move might have been the one thing that could finally extinguish the fire burning inside Kobe to surpass Jordan.

Recently, Jordan made a perfunctory comment about Kobe, saying that he “is always going to be in the conversation of some of the greatest players who’ve played,” but when ranking where Kobe stands amongst guards, he said, “I would say he’s got to be in the Top 10.”

Kobe responded by making a similarly ingenuous comment that Jordan’s comment was an “accurate statement.”

“I’m definitely one of the Top 10 guards. It could mean two, it could mean one, it could mean four or five.”

Honestly, it doesn’t take an expert to read between the lines on this one. This is a battle between two of the game’s greats for supremacy, for the right to call this game theirs. Jordan cannot control the outcome of Kobe’s career, and he knows that. He can try to join the discussion, but it won’t matter. The only thing that matters is what Kobe accomplishes by the time he decides to hang up his purple and gold Lakers jersey.

Until then, MJ can only hope that LeBron’s decision ultimately serves as protection for his legacy as the best ever.

Catch more of Michael Selling’s work on his blog “All Mike’d Up.”


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