The big story of the 2018 NBA Finals, besides the Golden State Warriors winning their third title in four years, was whether or not this loss negatively affects the legacy of LeBron James.
For Kobe Bryant, who was among the several current and former players asked to weigh in on the subject, any loss in the Finals is exactly that. While praising James’ ability, Bryant added that the NBA Finals was a time to figure out how to win, regardless of public opinion and perception.
Bryant also felt it was unfair to complete disregard a Cleveland Cavaliers roster that he believed had talented players on it.
Furthermore, the five-time champion detailed what he believed James needed to do by recalling a emssage Phil Jackson once had, via Howard Beck of Bleacher Report:
“I would say he’s working too much,” Bryant told B/R prior to Game 3. “He should be doing less, actually. Phil used to say this thing to me a lot, when I was doing a lot on the court,” said Bryant, whose ESPN+ show Detail explores the technical aspects of the game. “He’d say, ‘You have to do less.’ And I’d say, ‘Well, my teammates got to step up more.’ Phil would say, ‘Well, it’s your responsibility to thrust the game upon them.'”
James and the Cavaliers wound up dropping Game 3 at home, then were swept by the Warriors. The loss was James’ sixth in the Finals, leaving him with three titles.
That Bryant suggested to James that he involve his teammates goes against what the Los Angeles Lakers legend was known and renowned for. Bryant oftentimes would will the Lakers to a win behind an array of difficult shots.
Granted, he memorably passed the ball to then-Ron Artest for a crucial 3-pointer in Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals. And in fairness, Bryant proved to be a more willing passer when teammates demonstrated they were capable of rising to the occasion.
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