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By Shawn Muller–
CHICAGO (CBS) When the Chicago Bulls finally decided to honor Scottie Pippen with a statue inside the United Center, I was one of the first people to say that it was long past due.
Scottie was easily one of…no wait…scratch that…he was the second greatest player to ever suit up in a Chicago Bulls uniform.
No ifs, ands, or buts about it.
But, for all that he did to help the Chicago Bulls become one of the most dominant dynasties the National Basketball Association has ever seen during the franchise’s blistering run to six world championships during the 1990’s, his comments last month regarding LeBron James and his apparent equality—and potential superiority—to Michael Jordan are now looking ever more dumbfounded and erroneous: Especially after the Dallas Mavericks beat the Miami Heat Sudnay night in Game 6 of the NBA Finals to clinch the Larry O’Brien Trophy, making LeBron James now “0-fer” in two tries for a league championship.
If you don’t recall the firestorm that Scottie Pippen created around the league—and especially here in Chicago–let me refresh your memory.
The Hall of Famer said, “Michael Jordan is the greatest scorer to ever play the game. But I may go as far as to say LeBron James may be the greatest player to ever play the game because he is so potent offensively that not only can he score at will, but he keeps everybody involved.”
Really, Scottie? That is–and was–your argument?
I know you tried to back pedal afterwards by saying, “Don’t get me wrong, MJ was and is the greatest. But LeBron could by all means get to his level someday.” But even that is absurd.
LeBron James is a great basketball player…no doubt about it. But he is just a great INDIVIDUAL player. Michael, on the other hand, was great individual player who turned into a great TEAM player. MJ made EVERYONE around him better…including you, Scottie.
When Michael finally had the pieces around him to make a run at championships, he delivered. Jordan and the Chicago Bulls saw their share of playoff disappointment during his time with the franchise, but…once he had the pieces in place surrounding him to make a run–or six–to the NBA Finals, he never lost.
And, more importantly, he never faltered under the pressure.
LeBron James, on the other hand, has yet to do so.
I am still a firm believer that he was close to winning a championship with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and I still believe that Cleveland would have done everything in their power to bring in as much help for James as needed…but he didn’t want to give it the time. James wanted instant satisfaction; hence his leaving a city that adored him, in favor of playing with other stars somewhere else.
So now, even if James does win multiple championships with the Miami Heat, his legacy will forever be tarnished in the eyes of many because he didn’t want to wait it out in Cleveland.
MJ didn’t need to relocate in hopes of winning championships.
He stayed with the Chicago Bulls through thick and thin. Could he have left for seemingly greener pastures? Absolutely. But “His Airness” didn’t because he wanted to create his own legacy. And create his own legacy he did.
Will LeBron James win an NBA Title during his time in the league? He’d better…especially with the talent surrounding him down in Miami.
But as it stands right now, Michael Jordan was 6-for-6 in his quest for winning titles. LeBron James is 0-for-2.
There are many things Michael Jordan could do athletically that LeBron James has the ability to do on the basketball court, but the one thing that separates MJ from the rest was his refusal to lose.
Jordan shined in the bright lights and big stage. He wanted the ball in his hands in crunch time. And, as sure as the Sun rising in the East every morning, Michael Jordan delivered.
LeBron fades away during crunch time like the Sun setting in the West. He plays big during the regular season, and at times during the playoffs.
But when titles are on the line…James is nowhere to be found.
And that is why he is not at the level of Michael Jordan now…and probably never will be.
Do you agree with Shawn? Post your comments below.
Shawn Muller has lived in the great city of Chicago for 7 years. He is a 2002 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and, in October of 2010, Shawn received his certificate in radio broadcasting. In his free time, Shawn enjoys spending time with his wife Melissa and 3 year old daughter Ava, catching any live sporting event, and traveling. Check out his radio show, Grab Some Bench with Muller and Bangser” every Thursday night at 8:30 P.M., at www.blogtalkradio.com/spmuller24. Read more of his blogs here.