Another view on LeBron James …

I enjoyed Bryant Gumbel’s thoughts on the Lebron James to Miami discussion. This is what he said at the conclusion of this week’s HBO Real Sports segment …This is a transcript provided by the network..

Gumbel: Finally tonight, a few words about championship rings. Just when did they become the all-important barometer of who does or doesn’t count in sports? When did they supersede personal excellence or exemplary character as a standard of greatness? (to continue, click thread).


I got to thinking about that the other night after the self-anointed chosen one, LeBron James, embarrassed himself as he tried to make his decision to seek rings in Miami sound like a search for the Holy Grail. It’s when he essentially admitted to placing a higher priority on winning than anything else.

LeBron’s decision is typical of our immediate gratification era, but it flies in the face of history. Even though he never won a title, Dan Marino is still the biggest hero in Florida. And in Boston, all those Celtics championships are dimmed by the unforgettable brilliance of Ted Williams, who never won anything. In Chicago, Gale Sayers and Dick Butkus have legendary status despite playing on losing teams. And even in the NBA, where guys seem obsessed with being viewed as ‘the man’, real men like Barkley, Ewing and Baylor are ringless, but revered.

Despite such evidence to the contrary, LeBron James seems to think he needs a ring to change his life and secure his legacy. Maybe he’ll get one, maybe he won’t, but it’s probable that no amount of rings will ever remove the stench he wallowed in last week. LeBron may yet find that in the court of public opinion, just as putting on a tux can’t make a guy a gentleman, winning a ring can’t make one truly a champion.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email
  • reality

    Fred, Take a page from Gumbel and lets here more about coaches and players that toil in the trenches year after year going 3-7 or 4-6 but doing remarkably well with the local talent at their school. You don’t need to continually feed the already massive egos of the same coaches and so called star players and the football factory schools. You might also shine some light on the administrations of the schools that don,t feel the need to fire the coach after several rough seasons.Rings are’nt everything, right?

  • Wow????

    Wow??? People like Gumble make me sick. I played on a bad bad bad HS basketball team. Wasnt recruited to Play college hoops because of it. I remember going to a camp at UTEP and when I asked the coach what he looks for on the recruiting trail. His answer was simple. Winners, he said he hated the idea of giving scholarships to players who didnt put winning above every thing. Really??? Is Dan Marino remembered as one of the Greatest? Im sorry I but still put him behind Montana, Favre, Elway, Manning even though he put up better numbers than all of them. Come on as a kid who grew up watching the Showtime Lakers and being a fan for more than 2 decades. Winning is why we play sports!!! Period. I remember my cousin playing club soccer and his team having t-shirts that simply said “If you cant win, dont play!!!”. Even though I am still a Laker fan I think Lebron did the right thing, I think we all agree he did it the wrong way but he gave up money and possible scoring titles to improve his chances at winning titles. Why dont we put World Be Free or Dominique Wilkins on the list of the greatest ever? The answer is simple, They didnt win titles!!!!!

  • what

    The “winning” argument has so much less value in football and baseball. You can’t fault Marino for not winning titles, he only plays on one side of the ball, he can’t control what his defense does. In basketball, you can control all the flow. Baseball even moreso, you can’t blame any single player for not winning a title, not when a pitcher only pitches once every five games, or a batter bats only four times a game…there is no way you can “carry” your team in such a limited role, which makes Gumbell’s Ted Williams argument so valid. Is he a loser because he didn’t have the same teammates and pitching staff as Jeter?

  • LA Conq

    What Gumbel fails to realize is that LeBron doesn’t want to be great in one city. He wants to be the GREATEST OF ALL TIME…NATIONWIDE!

    Marino is great and he’s revered in Miami, but Montana is considered the best because he won championships!

    Ted Williams may be considered the greatest HITTER of all time…but the greatest Player? Most would say Ruth, Gehrig, Jackie Robinson…guys who won RINGS!

    LeBron is chasing the ghost of the one and only Michael Jordan. Jordan was brilliantly talented, but he is considered the greatest of all time because he WON TITLES with that talent. Barkley, Malone, Ewing, etc were also amazingly talented but they never earned the hardware. They will be considered great forever…but will they be in the discussion of the greatest of all time? NOPE. If Malone had won four or five titles I believe he would be in that conversation. Why is Kobe now in the conversation of Greatest Laker of all time with Kareem and Magic? Because he’s winning TITLES!!!

    Talent can make you great. Loyalty can make you beloved. Winning Titles can make you the greatest of all time! THAT, is what King James is looking for.

  • what

    Then I guess Robert Horry is the greatest of his generation, seven titles, one more than Jordan…You guys are crazy.

  • To LA Conq

    How can he ever be the greatest of all time with a player like Dwayne Wade who already has one more title than him. He will always fall short, will always be the guy that joined “Wade’s” team. Can’t you understand this argument would carry a thousand times more weight if he won five titles in Cleveland rather than five in Miami?

  • Gumbel is wrong

    Bryant Gumbel is wrong. I value loyalty, but there is no way he should accept a dead end situation just so that the sports world can view him as a nice guy. Lebron has proven that he is intelligent. He obviously understands that he cannot win a championship with the Cleveland ingredients. He didn’t quit on Cleveland. He honored his contract, and when it expired, he accepted a potential teammate’s offer to unify a collection of talent whose sole purpose is to conquer the basketball world.

    It’s amazing how ignorant Laker fans are. If my memory serves me correctly, not too long ago, Kobe Bryant held L.A. hostage. He was openly bitter, criticizing everyone, and threatened to jump ship if changes weren’t made in his favor. He was not loyal. L.A. was his best situation. He pushed Shaq out of town because he refused to co-exist with a player more popular than him. As soon as he realized that he couldn’t win on his own, he now kisses Gasol’s ass for saving him. Funny, all is forgiven when one produces victories. Without Pau Gasol, the Lakers are mediocre. Without Gasol, the Lakers were repeatedly punked by the Suns, literally (Raja Bell). Thanks to his supporting cast, Kobe can afford to deliver his worst playoff performance in a game seven of the finals and still win.

    I love it! Laker fans are becoming Lebron haters, and he has yet to play a game with the Heat. Enjoy the hating Laker fans. Prepare to find out what Laker haters feel on a daily basis.

  • cmon now

    Why can’t he win a championship with Cleveland’s ingredients? He had a better record than Boston, Orlando and the Lakers for two straight years. They had freakin three centers in Shaq, Ilguaskas and Anderson Varejo, that’s nearly as good as any formidable center trio in the NBA. They had a legitimate power foward in Antwan Jamison, an allstar point guard in Mo Williams, with Delonte West off the bench, had a up and coming slasher in J.J. Hickson, a shooter in Anthony Parker, and Lebron himself, that’s why they won 66 and 63 games. The team was not the problem, his leadership in the playoffs was. I’m so sick and tired of people saying he had to leave because he couldn’t win in Cleveland. That’s his fault. His role players did what they were supposed to do, Lebron didn’t do his as the superstar.

  • cmon now

    Why can’t he win a championship with Cleveland’s ingredients? He had a better record than Boston, Orlando and the Lakers for two straight years. They had freakin three centers in Shaq, Ilguaskas and Anderson Varejo, that’s nearly as good as any formidable center trio in the NBA. They had a legitimate power foward in Antwan Jamison, an allstar point guard in Mo Williams, with Delonte West off the bench, had a up and coming slasher in J.J. Hickson, a shooter in Anthony Parker, and Lebron himself, that’s why they won 66 and 63 games. The team was not the problem, his leadership in the playoffs was. I’m so sick and tired of people saying he had to leave because he couldn’t win in Cleveland. That’s his fault. His role players did what they were supposed to do, Lebron didn’t do his as the superstar.

  • Fact check

    Fact: He pushed Shaq out of town because he was tired of working with the most lazy superstar in NBA history.

    Without Pao Gasol the Lakers were mediocore: Fact, the Lakers had the second best record in basketball behind the Boston Celtics when they acquired Gasol in January because Andrew Bynum was injured. Before Bynum was inuured, the Lakers were already on their way up by replacing Smush with Derek Fishser and the improved play of Bynum, and emergence of Trevor Ariza, another midseason trade. In fact, The Lakers were 25-11 and won six straight games — their longest winning streak in almost four years — and 16 of 19, when Bynum was injured. THEN along came Gasol, who simply elevated them back to elite status after losing Bynum.

    Fact: yes he was 6-for-24 in the championshp, but still led the team with 23 points and 15 rebounds, finding other ways to help his team win at all costs, something Lebron has failed to learn.

  • Wow????

    Come on now!!!

    I dont think anyone is saying Lebron didnt have blame in them not wining over the last 2 years, But come on to say he had enough talent around him??? Really??? Really??? He had a bunch of decent at best talent. How many future Hall of Fame player did he have around him??? Or Hall of Fame coach??? The answer is simple. Besides a broke down Shaq??? Zero!!! He had journey men at best. Besides Tim Duncan and The Pistons last title run what team ha won an NBA title with out at least 2 Hall of Famers???? Im only 32 and honestly I cant redeemer a single team, I could be wrong because honestly I’m wrong pretty often. Does Lebron deserve some of the blame? Of Course but to kill him for not winning a title with that line up. Come on now lets be fair. Lebron had the least amount of Talent around him than any other team that made the NBA final four.

  • Fact

    Fact: Lebron swept the Lakers last season. (Mmmm, I wonder, what is Kobe/Lebron’s all-time head to head record?)

    Fact: Lebron led the Cavaliers to the NBA finals in 2007.(Will someone please identify the other players on this roster?)

    Fact: Kobe has been a terrible teammate for most of his career. (I wonder, why didn’t any of Kobe’s teammates back him up when Raja Bell slammed him to the ground?)

    Fact: Kobe is a snitch. (Ask Shaq)

    Fact: Kobe Bryant quit in elimination games against the Suns and Pistons. (I guess he is more mature than Lebron after all)

    Fact: Kobe won his first three championships because of Shaq. (Nice situation to inherit early in your career)

    I have plenty more facts. If you want more, just ask. I’ll be happy to participate in your fact-o-thon.

    By the way, for all you Kobe Kiss-asses, you need not worry. Theory will not apply in this speculation war. There will be no mythical champions next season. Kobe will have plenty of opportunities to put his leadership to the test. You can say all you want. There are no excuses. If Kobe is greater than Lebron, he will lead his team to victory over the Heat and obstruct their championship intentions. Laker fans are always full of excuses when things don’t go their way. “Oh, Karl Malone was hurt, Oh, Pau Gasol wasn’t tough enough,… whatever. Let the results speak for themselves. You don’t hear Boston bickering over not having the services of Perkins in game seven. It is what it is. We’ll soon witness what happens in 2011. Have fun watching Sportscenter.

  • Fact recheck

    Fact said:

    Fact: Lebron swept the Lakers last season. (Mmmm, I wonder, what is Kobe/Lebron’s all-time head to head record?) — Is that what this is down to, head-to-head. I think Atlanta swept them too, what does that mean.

    Fact: Lebron led the Cavaliers to the NBA finals in 2007.(Will someone please identify the other players on this roster?) — What you should do is identify what other contenders there were in in the East back then. If u remember, it was the Pistons and nobody else, I think the fourth place team had a sub. 500 record, and what did they do in the finals against, they got swept.

    Fact: Kobe has been a terrible teammate for most of his career. (I wonder, why didn’t any of Kobe’s teammates back him up when Raja Bell slammed him to the ground?) — You can blame Lazy Shaq for that, he didn’t respect Kobe’s work ethic, which today’s players to. Ask his 2008 Olympic teammates what they think of him as a teammate.

    Fact: Kobe is a snitch. (Ask Shaq) — What does this have to do with anything?

    Fact: Kobe Bryant quit in elimination games against the Suns and Pistons. (I guess he is more mature than Lebron after all) — That’s all Kobe Hater, Shaq loving speculation.

    Fact: Kobe won his first three championships because of Shaq. (Nice situation to inherit early in your career). — They wouldn’t of won any of them without Kobe, and Kobe has won two in his prime without Shaq, whereas Shaq has just one won in his prime without Kobe.

    I have plenty more facts. If you want more, just ask. I’ll be happy to participate in your fact-o-thon. — Then fact on dude.

  • hey fact check dude

    BTW, in 2007, the Lakers were 42-40 in a Western Conference that was ten deep while Cleveland won 52 games in the worst Eastern Conference probably ever. The Lakers managed to get to the playoffs with Smush Parker, Luke Walton, Kwame Brown, Lamar Odom and Kobe, how they even made the playoffs with that lineup is beyond me…Who did Cleveland have, a young Ilgauskas, active Pollard, Drew Gooden, Anderson Varejao and Larry Hughes, an 18 point player at the time. Plus Damon Jones and Daniel Gibson, much better than the Lakers supporting cast, and like I said, they competed in the east. Do you remember how bad the east was five years ago. Now that the conferences are on an even level, Lebron hasn’t sniffed the championship round..

  • Wow????

    Wow??? I love how the argument gets changed. In 2007. Did the Lakers win a title????? Nope!!! Yes they made the play off but did they win it all??? No, not even your mighty mighty Black Mamba Kobe Bryant could win it all with a cast of “also rans”. People are hating on Lebron because he cant lead his team to a title. Not because he cant lead them into the playoffs. It can be argued that Kobe is not the one who lead LA to the title. Had it not been for Fish we would be listining to Kobe cry about needing help or he is bailing. Great leader Kobe is!!!! Come on talent is talent and yes those 2 are by far the most talented players in the league. But as far as being the ultimate alpha male in the league. There is no arguement Miami has two. Wade and Riley. What other guy in the history of sports could pick up the phone and bring 2 of the top 9 scores in the league and tell them staright out. You need to join me if you really want to win. I for one have a new found respect for Wade. Too me he is now the greatest bad a$$ in the league,

  • so dumb

    That was just dumb, anytime that Kobe has had a team with the best regular season record, they have gone on to the finals, not petered out.

  • Wow????

    So Dumb!!!
    Your right when Kobe’s team had the best record they won. But didnt Kobe have a hall of famer with him when he did so??? By your logic doesnt that make Lebron’s accomplishement even greater? He took a cast of “also rans” to the best record over the last 2 years. Thank you for pointing out how great Lebron has done over the last 2 years. Plus how many other guys have won back to back league MVP honors?

  • Sodumb

    Yeah, and he won it while Kobe won back-to-back finals MVP honors. Kobe has had one hall of fame teammate in his career, Shaq. Gasol while great, is not a hall of famer, not yet anyway. You calling LeBron’s teammates also rans is kinda dumb, like i mentioned, name a better center trio that the one they had last year. Plus, Jamison and Mo Williams were all-stars, hardly also rans. Ilgauskas, and Varejao would be great role players on any championship team, the problem is Lebron, he can’t deliver when the light shines the brightest. Plus, looking at Kobe’s two titles, he beat teams in Orland and Boston that were better than the teams the Lakers beat during their shaq 3-peat. Who did they beat, Philadelphia, Indiana and New Jersey? Orland and Boston would have crushed all three.

  • COChargerfan

    The ages last season for Shaq, Ilgauskus and Jamison? How about 37, 34 and 33, respectively. All way past their primes and the years that they were on the all star teams…so they are now well on the way to being also rans. And BTW, Ilgauskus was a free agent who has now left the Cavs and followed LeBron to the Miami Heat.

    Williams made the all star team 2 years ago only because Stern named him after Bosh was unable to play. The reality is that there aren’t any all stars quality players on the current team that LeBron would have been stuck with for the next two or three years.

    I believe that it is silly to argue that Championships aren’t important to players, including LeBron…isn’t that what they play for? So nobody’s ever heard Kobe, Magic and many other Laker greats say this very thing? Because they do…over and over. Heck, the Lakers refuse to hang Conference Title banners saying that these are meaningless failures…so why should Lebron consider such a measure of success?

    I’ve heard Barkley complain about mediocore players having rings while he doesn’t…it is something that he’s bitter about because fate dealt him a bad hand. Well, D-Wade, Bosh and Le Bron decided that they don’t want to put their futures into fate and, instead, decided to make their own luck. Besides, isn’t this what the Yankees do every year but yet no one is calling for the heads of A-Rod, CC, Burnett, Tex, Swisher and a long line of others from the past who picked that team because it gave them a chance to win?

    And what makes anyone belive that the ringless greats from all sports wouldn’t have done the same thing as LeBron if the opportunity was available?

    And on the offense side of the ball, Gasol is perhaps the most complete big man in the NBA plus he is way above average on defense and rebounding. If he puts up consistent stats for the next three years or gets another title, he will be in the HOF. Barring injury, this is likely to happen. If one looks at the HOF players, a common denominator is that for the most part they all won rings. Like someone said, is World B. Free a household name? Because he averaged almost 21 ppg over a 14 year
    career (51st all time) but isn’t in the HOF…I for one believe that a title would have changed that.

  • Thought you knew

    How many All Star teams has Fisher made. He has 5 Chmapionship Rings and has made bigger shots than most All Stars have in bigger games. Re think the All Star voting and it’s revevance to the issue at hand.

    Thought you knew.

  • Wow????

    I agree. I takes more than stars to win Titles. Like I said Im a Laker fan but I am a basketball fan 1st so i take emotions out when Im talking on the subject. Lets be honest here niether the Laker teams of now nor the showtime era win without your Fishers and Rambis’ but lets face it with out Kobe and Gasol or Magic and Big Game the Lakers are an average team at best. Like I said what NBA team beside Billups Piston team and Tim Duncans Spurs team have won without 2 Super Stars??? I cant think of one. So lay off of Lebron we created this mess. By talking about legacy of the guys with no titles. Like I said kids today dont know World B Free but had he won a title or 2 he might have been one of the greatest of all time

  • Aaron

    How everyone has forgotten Robert Horry.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqZQ7fYavT4

  • King Stud

    There are some great articles on yahoo.com as well as Cleveland.com about Lebron. Beat reporter Brian Windhurst discusses all that went into his free agency and the actual snake that he really is. He had no intention of signing with the Cavs as far back as 3 years ago when he Wade and Bosh all started this joining up conversation.
    As far as Cleveland having the talent to win they were ready to win this year. Go back and watch the Celts series and you will see a LeBron who was already checked out. Game 5 was the worst tank job since the 1919 blacksox scandel. Also to the point that Cleveland couldn’t get the talent to surround him that falls on LeQuits shoulders. He would only commit to a 3 year deal and when free agents asked him or the Cavs if he planned on staying they got no answer. Who was going to commit to the Cavs if LeTank wasn’t staying? Answer: No one. This decision handcuffed the Cavs and made it hard to get him talent that would allow him to stay. This is the reason Trevor Ariza signed with Houston and not the Cavs.
    The Cleveland front office made some mistakes by giving LeQuitter too much power and tried to built a team of veterans around him. They would have been better off going the OKC route having a long term plan and getting young talent that would have made it harder to stay.
    Bottom line here is LeDonkey had no intention in staying in his hometown which certainly is his right as a free agent. What he did on national TV to screw his team and his hometown was an absolute disgrace. He didn’t even have the sack to call the Cavs and tell them he was leaving. Just another rich spoiled 25 year old. I hope the Lakers, Celts or Orlando punk the Heat this year.