Increasingly our demands on NBA superstars have risen as we become more impatient for overall dominance. A single title is no longer enough. Witness the grief LeBron James still suffers from even though he’s only won a pair of titles in five Finals tries. Kobe Bryant was asked about this new superstar standard as regards arguably the two best soccer players in the world: Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Kobe spoke with a reporter in Brazil about the demand on soccer and basketball superstars. He was asked who was better between Messi and Ronaldo and said Messi has been the best for the last half decade, but Ronaldo might have gotten up to his level this year.
The most interesting part of this exchange comes 45 seconds in, after the interviewer asks if Messi or Ronaldo need a World Cup win in order to be considered successful and true all-time greats. The questioner segues into LeBron, and Kobe didn’t hold back in talking about how “absolutely ridiculous” the expectations have become for players, particularly James.
Here’s Kobe on the expectations placed on ‘Bron and himself:
“[LeBron] has two of them [titles]. For us players, it becomes about how many you get, which sounds absolutely ridiculous. You’re really lucky and fortunate to win one, but now it’s become so jaded, it’s like, ‘OK you only won one, you only won two, you should win five or six,’ which is absolutely ridiculous. But nonetheless, that’s the challenge that we deal with.”
There’s a reason LeBron is lying back and watching the July moratorium on some island bunker that only his agent can reach. He knows the expectations — he played a big role in setting them himself with that famous speech after arriving in Miami. Plus, we’ve had to read and listen to so many unoriginal jokes about “Not 1, not 2, not 3…” that — aside from the unfair expectations it loaded him with — is reason enough to detest LeBron’s welcome to Miami speech. So James is going to play wherever he can make the max — he’s the best basketball player on the planet, so of course he should make the max — and where he’s got the best chance of winning titles.
LeBron knows at this point in his career, it’s only about championships, which — to quote Kobe — is absolutely ridiculous. It’s really hard to win a title, let alone two of them, let alone five or six of them. Not many people have even won a single title, but that’s what comes along with being the best basketball player on the planet — something Kobe, LeBron and only a few others have ever really known.
(video via Worldstar)
What do you think?
Follow Spencer on Twitter at @SpencerTyrel.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.