Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant recently weighed in on the ongoing debate about the supporting cast that LeBron James has. During the course of the 2017-2018 season, many NBA followers have asserted that James has not had a lot of help. While that idea is somewhat understandable, Bryant isn’t buying it.
Certainly, it is fair to say that James has had to carry the biggest burden on his shoulders. It is expected beyond the shadow of a doubt, though, given his superstar status. It comes with the territory.
Bryant held those lofty expectations throughout his long, storied career as well. However, the 5-time world champion cannot say he did all the work. Kobe definitely had some quality teammates on his side to back him up.
In a similar way, Bryant firmly believes James currently has some good backup players, too. According to ClutchPoints contributor Shane Mickle (originally via the New York Times), this is what the Black Mamba shared on the subject matter.
“It seems like he has some good talent to me. He’s got (Kyle) Korver who’s a great shooter, J.R. Smith who has always been a solid player — we focus on his one mistake and that tends to overshadow all the things he’s done to help them win a championship before — you’ve got Kevin Love, who was an All-Star and an Olympian; Rodney Hood, who was a 17-point scorer in the Western Conference; you’ve got Tristan (Thompson) who is back to playing like he played a few years ago.”
Kobe brings up some valid points in his analysis of the Cavs’ roster. For example, when Kyle Korver is examined, to say he is “a great shooter” is incredibly accurate. In fact, it would not be a stretch to say that Korver is one of the better shooters ever, period.
He is spot on with respect to guys like Kevin Love as well. In the 2017-2018 playoffs, the All-Star has averaged a double-double. That appears like another “good talent” for sure.
Consequently, Bryant’s dismissal of the idea that James’ teammates stink is logical. Players like that certainly possess a great deal of talent.
As was said, it is undeniable that James has carried a monumental workload. It may seem even more unfair on the grounds that the Golden State Warriors are loaded.
However, Bryant’s Lakers played teams like the Celtics in the NBA Finals a couple times. Those rosters were rather stacked, so it not like James is in a league of his own. As a matter of fact, those Boston teams L.A. played against carried three potential Hall of Famers.
Many have been contending James has had little help all year long to make the 4-time MVP look better. Despite that, Bryant (to no surprise) is not too big on that, either, via Mickle’s piece.
“He’s got some workable pieces there. I don’t understand how, in order to talk about how great LeBron is we need to [expletive] on everybody else. That’s not O.K. Those guys have talent. I don’t buy this whole thing that he’s playing with a bunch of garbage.”
Frankly, to think that LeBron is playing with “garbage” is senseless. Yes, this 2018 Cavs roster is by no means the best team James has been a part of. That is true.
No one, though—no one—can do it alone. Bryant and other NBA greats can say the same. Putting LeBron on a pedestal as if he literally makes up the whole Cavs roster is weird.
However, as Mickle alludes to, the Cavaliers’ bigger problem may not be relative to their talent level. Conversely, the issue revolves around James’ teammates coming up to the plate.
In this case, it is understandable since some of James’ supporting cast has never played on such a big stage before.
In spite of that, certain players not shining in bigger moments does not automatically make them trash altogether. That is primarily the basis behind Bryant’s argument.
Surely enough, it may not seem like James has “enough” backup. Even if fans will agree that the Cavs’ star has help, many will go to extreme lengths claim it is inadequate. That is not to say, though, that he has no help whatsoever.
Certain guys have just not shown up for Cleveland at times in the 2018 Finals. It does not mean those players do not deserve to be in the NBA. Golden State is just a well-oiled machine, and that partially accounts for the Cavs’ struggles as well.
It is key to point out that most of the Warriors’ core has been together a little longer, thus exposing James’ Cavs. Therefore, while one could argue the Cavs’ cohesiveness is not supreme, it does not mean James is the only player on their team.