Real recognize real. This perfectly applies to San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and LeBron James, two great competitors who share a mutual respect for each other. They revolutionized basketball and still making an impact despite being at the tail end of their careers. For coach Pop, he sees another NBA legend in LeBron.
Comparing Michael Jordan and LeBron James
Coach Pop has been in the league for numerous years. He's seen superstars come and go, and he names one player who he thinks has similarities with LeBron James. Coach Pop added he was mesmerized by the two.
"It's kind of like when I first came to the league back in the 80s as an assistant coach. I get mesmerized watching Michael on the court, and you know, I wasn't much help to Larry Brown. I'm watching Michael and I do that with LeBron. He'll do things. He'll look over once in a while and smirk."
The San Antonio Spurs and the teams James played in enjoyed many battles on the court. But instead of harboring ill feelings, Popovich chose to praise James for what he has done since the start.
"I've appreciated LeBron from Day 1 … He never let (early criticism) to get to him … it's the mental toughness. It really impressed me at that young age for him to have that maturity."
Fans have been debating who is the GOAT of basketball, but for coach Pop, Jordan and James possess the same qualities: star quality and consistency over the years.
LeBron James' consistency
When Michael Jordan entered the league, he also suffered losses after losses, and fans gave him time to develop and mature. In the case of James, fans didn't give him the time to develop and become great. He was immediately put in the spotlight, and great things were expected from him even at a young age.
James has been consistent, a sentiment that Charles Barkley also shared. His longevity in the game and still delivering MVP numbers at 37 years old are just unheard of in recent NBA history. Unfortunately, the L.A. Lakers might not make the playoffs, but it shouldn't tarnish what The King had already accomplished in the league. The same goes for Popovich. Now that the Spurs are in a rebuilding mode, there's a chance he would retire with his team missing the playoffs. And that should be okay. Pop has done his part in changing the game, and the only thing missing in his resume is being hailed as the coach with the most wins in NBA history.