Joe Cowley, Chicago Sun-Times, June 10, 2014:
“…Jordan would have wilted if he played under the same scrutiny James does. No athlete has been as polarizing as James has been for the last five years, but we haven’t seen one gambling receipt, nor have we read anything about marital discord.
Jordan should be thankful he played in the era he did. The media didn’t report on his off-the-court escapades, and camera phones were still science fiction. Could you imagine the field day TMZ would have had with Jordan?
Many in Chicago seem to forget 1987 to 1990, when the Detroit Pistons owned Jordan and made him look soft. The national perception was that Jordan didn’t make anyone around him better and that he cared only about himself. No, he didn’t go seeking help with another franchise, but he received it.
Then when he did climb to the top of the mountain and win three consecutive NBA titles, the murder of his father led to him to walk away and chase a bad baseball dream.
Can you imagine the storm of controversy that would face James if he three-peats, then inexplicably darts off to explore his college-football eligibility? ‘‘Selfish’’ would be the nicest word attached to his legacy.
Yes, comparing Jordan and James is getting old, especially because they did play in different eras. Jordan should be thankful for that.”
Now consider all of the pressure that James has been playing under since he was in high school.
He was SUPPOSED to become better than Michael Jordan. That was expected of James.
Could you imagine trying to live up to something like that!?
Well, the remarkable thing is that to many, he DID.
But take a look at the weight of expectations that LeBron has been dealing with his whole career:
- “Ohio high school junior LeBron James is so good that he’s already being mentioned as the heir to Air Jordan.” -Sports Illustrated, February 18, 2002
- “NBA officials will tell you that we’ve seen this before, a phenom receiving big bucks, arriving amid much fanfare. But they’re kidding themselves and they know it. No one has gotten this much this soon, no one has ever entered any league under so much scrutiny.” -Sports Illustrated, October 27, 2003 (Jack McCallum)
Note: James has been dealing with unseen levels of scrutiny since before he entered the league.
- “I’ve been around the game for 40 years,” says Cavs coach Paul Silas, “and I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s scary.”
- “‘I can handle it,’ says James. That is his mantra. I can handle it. ‘He’s done well so far,’ says Fred Nance, his lawyer, ‘but it’s hard to imagine that any 18-year-old could fully comprehend all of this.‘”
- “LeBron has to do what Michael did to live up to that kind of corporate investment,” says Williams. “He has to dominate his position, take a downtrodden franchise to the playoffs and eventually to a championship. He will make a lot of money and live happily ever after. But no one has ever had more expectations put on him than this young man right now.“
Note: Are you getting the picture? James HAD to do what Michael did. He didn’t have a choice. THAT is real pressure. MJ himself was never expected to live up to something like that.
- “This is what it will look like all the time for James, one of the most famous and well-paid athletes on the planet though he has yet to play one official NBA minute.“
- “At this age LeBron is better than anybody I’ve seen in 37 years in this business, including Kevin [Garnett] and Kobe [Bryant] and Tracy,” says Sonny Vaccaro, the Adidas rep who signed the first shoe deals with Jordan (forNike), Bryant and McGrady.
- “There’s so much riding on LeBron that he can’t realize at his age,” says Spike Lee, who directed James in an NBA-sanctioned commercial for TNT’s TV package. “I told Aaron [ Goodwin], “This can’t be messed up.’ LeBron has got to perform on the court and, just as important, he’s got to perform off of it.“
LeBron’s entire career, from when he was 16 up until now, has been all about delivering under insane amounts of pressure, and how to exceed even unrealistic expectations.
Indeed, as Steve Kerr once said, the most remarkable thing about James is that he has exceeded those wild expectations from when he was in high school.
Michael Jordan never even had to deal with the pressure of being a #1 pick, let alone the kind of pressure that LeBron has to deal with.
Jordan, in fact, retired in 1993 because his private life was becoming too public and he couldn’t handle the scrutiny any longer. You can read all about that here.
It is absolutely impossible to argue that Michael Jordan handled pressure better than LeBron James, because no basketball player has ever delivered so much under more pressure than King James.