ESPN Wrong To Say MJ's Legacy Not A Negative

Los Angeles Lakers at Utah Jazz

Boozer's hands-off defense assures he'll never be confused for MJ. For LeBron, it's a different story... (source:

On ESPNChicago there was a post today reporting Carlos Boozer stated that he

doesn’t believe his fellow free agents will view playing in Chicago — under the shadow of Michael Jordan‘s legacy — as a negative.

Initially this post was going to be titled “Boozer Wrong To Say MJ’S Legacy Not A Negative,” but after looking at it more closely, I realized that in his actual quote he said it wouldn’t be a negative for most free agents, not all.  It was ESPN, in the post’s title and the above opening line, who incorrectly turned it into a blanket statement about all free agents.  Let’s look more fully at what Booze actually said before I heap anymore abuse on him than I have in the past:

“A lot of people in my era, in my age group, we watched MJ do what he did: win championships, be the face of the NBA and continue to dominate the game.  [...] I think most of the free agents this summer [think it's] probably an attractive thing to have that history, where MJ played, where [Scottie] Pippen played for those six championships.

“I can remember being a kid and watching that. I think everybody, whoever it is this summer, can remember watching MJ do his thing in Chicago, so I think that will be more of a positive thing than a negative thing.”

This is definitely true for him and pretty much all the free agents because he would never directly be competing with MJ.  He wouldn’t be under Jordan’s shadow, ‘cuz no one in a million years would ever think he could be like Mike, let alone anywhere near as good.  For LeBron James, and possibly Dwayne Wade, the only two exceptions, that would not be the case.  Particularly LeBron, at just 25, he still has a chance for his legacy to be in the same ballpark as Jordan, if not better.  However, to outdo the Original #23, he’d need more than 6 rings.  That’s a lot o’ jewelry.  In Cleveland, New York, New Jersey or hell, pretty much anywhere except Chicago, if he gets three rings he’ll at least be The Best There Ever Was for that city.

Players do indeed love playing on teams with deep basketball tradition like the Celtics, Bulls, Lakers, and I guess maybe the Knicks (although more due to the bball rep of NYC & the Garden than specifically the Knicks).  It’s wonderful being part of a rich history of greats.  Boozer, like most, just wants to be part of that long line of success.  However, for a few select few like LeBron, they dream of being at the front of the line.  Almost anywhere else he can reach that pole position fairly handily.  In Chicago, it’s a steep climb.

Boozer, rightly, doesn’t mind playing second fiddle to Deron Williams (or at least being co-stars), so of course he shouldn’t mind going somewhere he could never be King.  Every player’s desires has to do with in what realm their skills lie.  Steve Kerr never minded playing fifth fiddle to MJ in his prime because that was as good as life got for him.  Gary Payton, only after his skills had diminished, was finally ready to rent himself out as a fifth wheel to the Lakers and the Heat.  While it would be fun to see, say, LeBron join Kobe on the Lakers, wouldn’t it be disappointing to see him deferring to the Black Mamba in crunch time?

If LeBron wants to be as great as he can be, the shadow of MJ’s legacy will matter.  And Boozer knows LeBron has different concerns than most other players, so he wasn’t talking about him.  It’s ESPN who buried that lead.

Tags: Carlos Boozer Chicago Bulls Dwayne Wade ESPN Chicago Gary Payton Kobe Bryant LeBron James Los Angeles Lakers Michael Jordan New York Knicks Scottie Pippen Steve Kerr

  • Zack

    I don’t think you are qualified to say what will and won’t matter to LeBron. No one is but Lebron. However, the fact remains that wherever LeBron goes he will ALWAYS be compared to Michael Jordan. You don’t think that hypothetically if Lebron were to go play in New York and win only 1 title, people wouldn’t look back at his career and say, sure it was nice, but MJ was better? LeBron playing on the Bulls or any other team in the league won’t magically wish away comparisons to MJ. He can’t run from them, because throughout his entire career he’s been compared to MJ. Kobe Bryant plays for the Lakers, not the Bulls, yet people talk frequently about how he needs to get 6 rings or more to be considered the greatest of all time.

    • Alex David, aka Short White Boy

      Whadaya mean I ain’t qualified to say what will matter to LeBron? I totally am — I’ve got an advanced degree in OtherPeople’sBrainsOlogy.

      Yes, LeBron will always be compared to Jordan no matter where he goes, but at least in other cities he can still be the man. In Los Angeles, Kobe is God. You can say well, but he did that in the shadow of Magic Johnson so it can be done, but no one ever compared him to Magic. Perhaps it’s ‘cuz Magic’s game is so different, or maybe it’s ‘cuz as great as Magic & Bird & others were, they weren’t considered the best ever like Jordan.

      If Kobe played in Chicago, the He’s-Still-Not-As-Good-As-MJ comments would loom over him regularly, versus out in LA he’s able to just get pure adulation. Like the fact the Lakers just lost two straight to the Suns would become about how MJ never would’ve let that happen, rather than what it rightly was: a team collapse.