National Basketball Association
LeBron needs to focus on NBA ... not NFL or MJ
National Basketball Association

LeBron needs to focus on NBA ... not NFL or MJ

Published Nov. 20, 2009 8:27 p.m. ET

Like most young people, and like all young people with money, LeBron James doesn't think the axiom "two ears and one mouth" applies to him.

Everyone, but especially everyone under the age of 40, needs to do twice as much listening as talking. Our creator did not make a mistake giving us two eyes, two nostrils, two hands, two ears and one mouth.

You get farther in life observing than you do offering observations.

In the past 10 days, King James has stated that he wants to retire Michael Jordan's number and perhaps try his hand at NFL tight end.

I mean this respectfully: Shut the hell up, LeBron.

Jordan won three titles before he gambled on (pun intended) a baseball career. Yes, Deion Sanders dabbled in baseball when he wasn't playing his other non-contact sport, football cover corner.

But football can break a man. It destroyed Bo Jackson's hip, ruining what could've been one of the all-time great baseball careers.

I suspect LeBron knows this and was just running his mouth when he suggested he'd like to give the NFL a try. In his excitement to talk about anything other than the Browns' failure, Cleveland coach Eric Mangini quickly announced he'd welcome LeBron running seam routes for the Browns.

It's too bad Cavaliers coach Mike Brown doesn't have the necessary authority to tell James to spend his free time fantasizing about developing a consistent low-post game rather than feeding the media quotes about silly NFL dreams and Jordan's jersey number.

He's an incomplete, title-less basketball player who wants to possibly experiment with football. He's immature and shallow.

His argument that Jordan's number should be retired across the NBA solely because Jordan is the game's greatest player is a peek at how little depth James has.

Major League Baseball didn't retire Babe Ruth's or Willie Mays' or Hank Aaron's numbers. MLB retired Jackie Robinson's number out of respect for his overall impact on the game and society. Robinson is not the greatest baseball player of all time. He is arguably the most important baseball player of all time.

Jordan is the best basketball player. I'll give him that. And I won't deny his amazing impact on the game. But Jordan's impact hasn't been totally positive.

During his Hall of Fame induction speech -- an address I still defend -- Jordan accidently explained his basketball legacy when he said you can't spell win without the letter "I."

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That's Jordan's legacy. Magic Johnson and Larry Bird redefined "team basketball." They took the court trying to orchestrate the perfect game. Michael Jordan took the court trying to be the perfect player.

It amazes me how few people notice that since the end of the Magic-Bird era there hasn't been one player we can say reminds us of Bird and Johnson. Not one.

Every three or four years there's a new Michael Jordan. Kobe Bryant has perfected a Jordan imitation. Dwyane Wade does a fine impersonation, too.

You can say that everyone wants to be like Mike. But maybe Johnson and Bird are more difficult to duplicate, maybe they're the true twice-in-a-lifetime players. A million boxers have tried to be the next Muhammad Ali, but none has come close.

How come everyone from Allen Iverson to Carmelo Anthony to Kevin Durant can do five minutes of Michael Jordan?

And here we are 40 years after he retired and Dwight Howard is the first NBA player to give us a glimpse of a Bill Russell impersonation. (OK, Hakeem Olajuwon could do Russell from time to time. But that's two players in 40 years.)

Wow. I know I went a lot of different directions with this Truth. But I had to get that off my chest.

You can e-mail Jason at or find him on Facebook at


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