Mike Brown: Kobe Bryant more 'business-like' than LeBron James
Kobe Bryant thrives on taking over in the fourth quarter. LeBron James thrives on shrinking when that moment comes.
Bryant remains the consummate workaholic, forever finding ways to maximize his talent through injuries and a high odometer rating. James remains the life of the party, finding ways to maximize his profile through one-hour decision announcements and guaranteeing "multiple championships" at a pep rally.
Bryant continues to dazzle fans by still proving there's enough in the tank to maintain his greatness. James continues to frustrate fans still waiting for that moment to come.
Yup, Bryant and James are two completely different players. After coaching James at Cleveland and currently coaching Bryant with the Lakers, Mike Brown has kind of noticed.
"LeBron likes to have a ton of people around him all the time," Brown said Tuesday night at the "Lakers All-Access" event sponsored by the L.A. Sports and Entertainment Commission and hosted by Fox Sports West's Bill Macdonald. "It's almost like he's in high school or college. He's in college and would prefer to live in the frat house and live with 16 or 17 of his buddies. Everything he does includes all of his buddies, all the time."
And Kobe? Well, let's just say, had he gone to college, it would've been unlikely he'd pledge.
"Kobe is probably the opposite," Brown said. "He's a guy people would say, if he's in college, he's mature beyond his years. He'd go watch a movie by himself or go watch a movie with a friend or two and keep his group real small. He's more business-like than LeBron. Both of those guys are competitive and both want to win."
Remember, Bryant's insular focus on basketball once became a lightning rod for criticism. Bryant had endless tension with Shaquille O'Neal. When O'Neal was traded, Bryant faced plenty of scrutiny that he couldn't lead a team. And in 2007, Bryant went on a radio tour during which he seemingly couldn't make up his mind about whether he wanted the Lakers to trade him or not.
O'Neal deserves blame for continuously undermining Bryant. Hardly any player could really elevate a team featuring Kwame Brown and Smush Parker. But it's indisputable that Bryant's introverted personality sparked a disconnect between him and his teammates. Even now, Brown has criticized Bryant's gambling on defense and lately has called for a more balanced offense. Whether the Lakers should've adopted more of Bryant's work ethic or he should've made more of an effort to fit in remains debatable. It's likely a combination of both.
But the commentary on the difference between James and Bryant shows that it cuts both ways.
In the 2007 NBA Finals, James was seen as the perfect foil to Bryant, sparking public opinion that having a light-hearted time with teammates serves as the best formula to win a championship. That moment may eventually come for James, where his outgoing personality and willingness to play the setup guy could help him. But for now, it's just led to endless hand-wringing on whether he truly knows what it takes to become a champion.
"Personality-wise, they're both good guys," Brown said.
But for better and worse, they're different.
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