We now have a better understanding of why LeBron James was conspicuously absent from The Last Dance while revealing some brand new historic scoops that will shock the die-hard fans. Jackie MacMullen has spent well over a decade creating a podcast series dedicated to tracing the evolution of the NBA icon club. In a series that premiers on The Ringer, she talks with the greatest players ever about a club of which only the greatest players are a part. In a snippet, she revealed that Michael Jordan actually reached out to a young LeBron James, saying that if he needed anything, to call him, just like how another NBA great did for him.
Michael contends that "to his credit, he [LeBron James] never did".
Hidden NBA stories
Social media helps fans personify players. We see the behind-the-scenes of their family life, the music they listen to, the friends they hang out with, and think we get them. But that's a lie. That's as insightful as judging an actor's personality from their roles on T.V. We all know miserable couples that spam your feed with romantic shots or that one girl who looks nothing like their pictures. My point is that when it comes to LeBron, the first member of the club to fully experience the shaping tool for the public appearance that social media has to offer, he has meticulously crafted a public personality. But like that girl with the perfect choice of filter, this podcast series shows that NBA players we formulated characters for have much more going on beneath the eye.
People didn't know the extent to which Jordan mentored Kobe until closer to his retirement. The idolizing was obvious, but people wouldn't expect the great M.J to be sharing his secrets the way he did. Bill Russell, one of the more closed off to media superstars the game ever saw, surprisingly rang up a depressed and still ringless Isiah Thomas a few weeks after the 'Bird stole the ball' moment and told him that everything would eventually be okay. That he once found a 19-year old Julius Erving in Umass and professed that if he ever needed anything, to call him. Well, that's exactly what Erving said to a 21-year old Michael. And it went full circle except for LeBron.
LeBron James is just not like that
Given what we know about the club, it's unlikely LeBron was not mentored behind the scenes by anybody. And it's almost impossible he was never given advice. But it might be likely he never had a guy because he never sought one out. Even with Kobe, it was revealed that their personal relationship blossomed only after Kobe's retirement. No other star greats come to mind. We'd know if it was O'Neal or Barkley from TNT. Magic's and LeBron's rocky relationship today does not give off a mentor/student pairing. And other than MJ, LeBron hasn't spoken of any other great with the same reverence. Erving might be the best bet due to LeBron once calling him a top-three player all time.
More will be revealed once the curtain closes on his legendary career. But even the greatest journalists and fans won't ever know the true show. That right is only prescribed for members of the club. It's obvious how LeBron followed in the footsteps of Kobe and embraced all competitors. Kobe seemed to be looking out for their game while LeBron might just be trying secure future teammates. But that's not what LeBron wants you to see. A magician only shows you what you're supposed to see, and with the miles on his record, LeBron is as elite a public shapeshifter as they come.