NBA Hall of Famer Rick Barry is "astounded" that no one is coaching LeBron James up.
And when asked on Mike and Mike this morning whether he was taking shots at Cleveland Cavaliers coach Mike Brown, Barry did not waver. Barry said he absolutely blamed the Cavs coaching staff and that he didn't care if they got mad at him. He stopped short of calling out Brown to the school yard after the bell.
"I feel sorry for LeBron", Barry said.
Rick Barry has identified several flaws in James' game that he feels the coaching staff is neglecting to correct. James' jumper is flawed - a mere "streak" shooter according to Barry. His free throw technique is poor. Barry says LeBron doesn't focus on the rim when he shoots free throws. LeBron runs pick and roll with the wrong guy - Varajao instead of Ilgauskas. And, oh yeah, LeBron doesn't even understand how to use a screen.
That's a pretty long list of fundamental deficiencies for such a naturally talented player. But Rick Barry insisted that if you show players things, they will learn. What athlete doesn't want to get better?
"He has an opportunity to become one of the best players of all time. It's kind of sad to see a young man of this amazing ability and talent, who has been in the league almost four years, and he doesn't know how to do so many basic things in the game.
"Think about what this young man could do if he understood the game. I hope that he gets the proper teaching to be able to maximize the full potential he has because this guy is unbelievable."
But Barry is naive. First, he assumes NBA coaches are put in place to coach. Some are. But some are there to assuage the star players and/or not butt heads with management and ownership. Maybe Mike Brown is the latter, but he did "coach" LeBron and his team to the NBA Finals. He deserves some credit for that.
And Rick Barry is only seeing what every two bit blogger and sports bar drunk can see. LeBron's jump shot is terrible. He needs to work on his free throws. And he could be more fundamentally sound. Surely, LeBron has noticed these things if he's watched a game tape or two. He obviously doesn't care.
At the end of the day, no matter how crappy a coach Mike Brown may or may not be, LeBron James is a grown ass man. He's got a job and a family. He's responsible for his own damn game. Lebron James is 100% responsible for improving his own jump shot, free throws and whatever else he needs to work on. That is, if he wants to.
You gotta want to be coached up to be coached up. Rick Barry may be right that Mike Brown is to blame for Lebron's failure to reach his potential. Or maybe he's just another LeBron apologist, making excuses for another baller coasting on his natural talent - all the way to the bank.