Mike Brown has been a pretty fortunate head coach. Sure, he got fired from his last gig, but he's coached teams that featured LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. So basically, he was set up to do well.
But he's also one of the few people that actually have a good perspective on the differences between the two superstars. Brown coached LeBron for multiple seasons in Cleveland, but Kobe just a handful of games in Los Angeles. Still, he has had a unique look at both players. His early conclusion: They're different. Via the O.C. Register:
It's very easy to read into those comments and make something out of them. But even from just the outside perspective, that's the truth. LeBron has talked about having fun and trying to make basketball a game first. Kobe approaches it like it's his only sustinance and if he doesn't win, he'll die. Maybe that's a difference between the two in terms of Kobe having multiple titles and LeBron having failed twice. Maybe not.
"There's just a different feel to the two guys," Brown said.
"LeBron is a guy who is still learning and still growing, and the reality of it is that being down there with Dwyane Wade has helped him," Brown said. "They're different personalities. LeBron, he's a guy who likes to laugh and joke. He knows obviously there's a time to be serious, but he's youthful.
"Kobe is not as much. Kobe's more serious-minded and so on and so forth. But Kobe knows how to have fun in his own way, too."
There are things that separate players. Mental makeup, competitive drive, insanity, anger -- whatever. Kobe Bryant is a different animal when it comes to basketball. It makes him a joy to watch and a pain to watch. LeBron is a freak of nature but obviously doesn't have the same mindset as Kobe when it comes to the game. Kobe has no fear of taking 35 shots in a game and then standing in front of the press saying, "Yeah, so what?" after the game. LeBron almost plays to please everyone. Not in a sense that he doesn't have the backbone, but he prefers to play more team ball than take over. It's the best and worst thing about him.
I don't know if you can take Brown's comments as something that says LeBron needs to grow up, but there is something to be said for having fun and something to be said for making basketball life or death. There are things much more important in life than a game, but at the same time, that's sometimes what makes the great ones great. It means everything to them. It almost means too much. There's no time to have fun on the basketball court, only time to win.
But like Brown said, LeBron is young and still has a lot of time to figure things out. Kobe is in an entirely different place career-wise. And it's not like LeBron wouldn't give everything to win. He just wants to have fun while doing it. Nothing really all that wrong with that. People are different, players are different.