I’ve resisted for two days posting this item, because my primary compass for determining what is or is relevant to be posted is whether I’m interested in a story as a football fan. And, frankly, I’m not interested in what anyone who plays any other sport thinks about any football player, regardless of how good or not good said player in some other sport may be.
But I keep getting emails from readers sending links to NBA superstar LeBron James with his views on Patriots quarterback Tom Brady as an overall athlete in comparison, apparently, to basketball players. So I need to write something or the emails will continue.
“Brady is unbelievable,” LeBron said in a video in which he was at a barber shop getting his real and/or not real hair cut, via NFL.com. “Brady is the greatest quarterback I’ve ever seen but he affects the game one way. Just as a basketball player, and the pounding that you take and running both sides — ‘OK, I gotta do offense. Oh sh-t, I gotta get back on defense. Oh sh-t, I gotta get back on offense. Oh sh-t, I gotta get back on defense.’ As physical as football is — and to the body, I know it’s crazy to the body — but for a quarterback, [Bill] Belichick has done a great job of implementing those five guys in front to protect that asset. For us [as basketball players], every single night, you gotta know both sides.”
It’s a meaningless comparison, naturally skewed toward making basketball players seem in some way better than football players. Greatness in any given sport, however, is measured by achievement relative to one’s peers. Brady, with five Super Bowl championships and two other Super Bowl appearances, has emerged as the greatest quarterback of all time. James hasn’t even reached that pinnacle in his chosen sport. Once he does, we can argue whether Brady or James is the greater overall athlete.
Until then, Brady has one championship to go to catch Michael Jordan, which then could spark a true debate as to whether Brady or Jordan is the greater overall athlete.
And as to James’ stream of “oh sh-ts” about playing offense and defense, that’s a matter of basic conditioning and “want to” that any basketball player worth a damn must have. It’s wholly related to effort, and unrelated to skill.
But if the number of times a guy says “oh sh-t” in a given game is indeed relevant to greatness, Wayne Gretzky is the guy LeBron James should be putting at the top of the list.