LeBron is obviously missing something that Jordan had in spades.
He's certainly a great talent, a great player, but his consistent failures in crunch time - including last night's missed free throw against Chicago - cannot simply be dismissed as coincidences. It is what it is, and until he actually comes through when it counts, he will carry that burden appropriately.
But, I always like to give credit where credit is due, and in one respect, he stands head and shoulders above Jordan.
LeBron and D-Wade and the Heat players made very strong and public statements in support of Trayvon Martin's family and their efforts to achieve justice for their dead son. The Twitter pic of the Heat players in hoodies is a powerful and dramatic statement. Those certainly qualify as bold and controversial moves, and they are certainly going to alienate as many fans as they will satisfy.
Mad, mad props to LeBron and D-Wade for having the guts to do something that might negatively impact on their endorsements. Conduct that just might make more than a few fans mad at them.
Contrast that with the consistent failure - no, absolute refusal - of Michael Jordan to do or say anything that might cause him to lose a single dollar's worth of sneaker sales and Jordan clearly comes up short.
In fact, Michael Jordan revealed himself as the moral midget he was, imho, during the 1990 senatorial campaign in his native North Carolina. In that race, one of the worst political figures in recent American history, Jesse Helms, a staunch segregationist, was running against Harvey Gannt, an African-American mayor of Charlotte. It was an extremely close race and any and every small and large endorsement mattered. Gannt's people approached Jordan, to attempt to get an endorsement, and Jordan refused, and responded in his unforgettable way:
"Republicans buy shoes, too."
No matter that a couple of good words from Jordan might have ended the career of a horrible man, someone who had consistently supported racist policies throughout his career.
No matter that a couple of good words from Jordan may have helped make history: electing the first African-American senator from the South since reconstruction.
No matter that Jordan, even then, was probably so rich he wouldn't miss a few sneaker sales.
No. All that mattered to Jordan was that he might lose a few dollars if he stuck his neck out and said anything controversial. That incident pretty much illustrated his conduct in matters outside the basketball court, then, and now.
LeBron - and D-Wade - obviously take a different approach. And what makes their actions so much more courageous is that the controversy is unfolding right there in their backyard. LeBron is not talking about something that happened in Cleveland. D-Wade is not talking about something that happened in his native Chicago.
No. This matter is just beginning to pick up steam and there are going to be passionate advocates on each side of the issue. Some Heat fans are going to support what they've done; some fans are going to be very upset.
And they probably won't buy their sneakers.