The current head coach of the Denver Nuggets Mike Malone was once an assistant coach when LeBron James played for the Cleveland Cavaliers during his first stint with the team. Malone had the opportunity to coach LeBron for five years, and something that he immediately noticed is that LeBron lacked the killer mentality. Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant were the two players that had this trait, and it defined them throughout their whole career. Malone said LeBron’s mindset and the way he sees the game were different and not necessarily in the wrong way. According to Malone, greatness can be measured in different ways, and LeBron did it differently than Jordan.
“It’s always an ongoing argument about who is the GOAT. Michael is up there and is the greatest of all time. There are not many Michael Jordans out there. I coached LeBron James for five years and have a great relationship with him. LeBron did not have the same mindset or killer mentality that Michael Jordan is supposed to have had. But LeBron James is arguably the greatest of all time as well.”
Mike Malone, USA TODAY
Malone also had the opportunity to watch Jordan up close and said the killer mentality that he possessed was on an entirely different level. Michael tended to take over games on both ends of the floor even though most people remember all the game winners he had throughout his illustrious career. If the games were close, everyone in the building which will have the ball in its hands to make the right play and potentially win the game. For Michael, that was a typical day on the job.
“Michael Jordan was not just a great player. He would reach into your chest and pull your heart out if he had to win a game. You don’t see that really often. He had that killer mindset and brought it every single night. That’s why all of these many years later, he’s the greatest of all time.”
Mike Malone, USA TODAY
LeBron James is, without a doubt, one of the greatest basketball players to ever grace the basketball hardwood; however, fans find flaws in his game and try to diminish everything he accomplished. Even though James is a walking triple-double, people often complained about the fact he is not clutch and that at some of the crucial moments in his career, other players on his team stepped up to take difficult shots. His mindset when playing is different, and you can compare him better to Magic Johnson, who always looked to find the better opportunity to score, no matter if it was him or an open teammate.
LeBron indeed works much better if he has a dominant second scorer along his side as he did in Miami Heat with Dwyane Wade and with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Kyrie Irving. That was evident during his championships runs with the two teams and players like Wade and Irving, who won quite a few games by taking over when it needed the most, and LeBron’s presence and court awareness helps in those situations.