Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Sympathy For LeBron

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.


DP said...

LeBron's shot has improved every year he has been in the league. One can only assume it will continue to get better.

Barry made some good points, but he seemed to relish each shot he took.

kinda like how dudes in the gym show off when they think women are watching.

MCBias said...

Good point, dp; it's not like that jump shot used to be pretty. And Lebron didn't have much time to work on his game last summer with the US Olympic demands.

LTMA, one day I'd love to see a series detailing how endorsement money has overtaken salary money, and what it's done to pro sports. The first generation was mostly ok; MJ was making more from commercials, sure, but it didn't affect his desire. However, we're definitely seeing problems, I think, in endorsement companies having too much say and power.

JD said...

There are coaches who expect and get more from their players (LB, Pops, Riles, Phil) but it also takes the desire of a player to better himself and sorry to say that Mike Brown is not one of them.......

Nickolas said...

thank you. thank you. again, thank you. why is everybody coddling this guy like he has no responsibility for the deficiencies of his team? when he passes potentially game-winning shots, it's a good bball play. when he gets tapped on a final shot, he missed becuase he got fouled. when the get stomped in the finals, his support is subpar. NO, lebron apologists, lebron is to blame. his jump shot will continue to hold that team back as long as he's the go-to guy. why do the lakers consistently score in the 90's and 100's despite limited talent? kobe's scoring and leadership. why do they lose? bad team defense. why do the cavs consistently score in the 70's and 80's with the same amount of talent as the lakers? lebron's passiveness, lack of leadership, and garbage j. how do they still compete? good team defense (and bad east offense). you're right about lebron. he's too comfortable to improve. it's too bad they won the east because now he think's he's done something. he has one great game in the playoffs and he's the king now. please. somebody take that number from him. if i were jordan, i'd be angry at this poser taking my number. thanks again

Premierophile said...

I do think Mike Brown is a poor offensive coach, but I hesitate to blame him for LJ's weak fundamentals in certain areas. As you pointed out, he's a grown man and can afford to hire personal trainers or coaches to help him improve himself. Where Mike Brown was terrible was putting Lebron in situations where he could take advantage of his natural strengths. The Cavs offense had almost nothing in it that allowed Lebron to get the ball inside the three point line. There are no post ups, baseline screens, down screens, etc...essentially, there is not an offense outside of the pick and roll (and lets face it, whether it's Z or Verajao, nobody is exactly shaking in their boots).

penxv said...

It takes a real nitpicker to complain about the way that Lebron James basketball.