The comparisons of LeBron James and Michael Jordan are many and near but, according to LeBron, the two are very different in a very key way.
From a recent [must read] Q&A by ESPN, LeBron made a clear distinction between him and MJ.
I look at it like this: MJ wasn’t perfect. MJ had bad games. He had turnovers. He had games where he felt like he should’ve been better. But I think the greatest thing about MJ was that he never was afraid to fail. And I think that’s why he succeeded so much — because he was never afraid of what anybody ever said about him. Never afraid to miss the game-winning shot, never afraid to turn the ball over. Never afraid. And that’s what I love most about him besides, obviously, the flying through the air and the tongue-wagging and the game-winning jumpers and the shoes and the baggy shorts. I think his drive and never being afraid to fail is what made him, and he would be unbelievable still today because of that.
Do you ever battle a fear of failure?
That’s one of my biggest obstacles. I’m afraid of failure. I want to succeed so bad that I become afraid of failing.
How do you deal with it — how do you overcome it?
Just win [laughs]. Keep winning and I don’t have to worry about it. Keep winning.
This is a very honest reply by LeBron. It isn’t easy for anyone to admit what he is afraid of, especially when that person is a mega icon that is considered the best is his respective field. LeBron has shown to be aware, if not susceptible to criticism. He has admitted his mistakes he has made in regards to his public image and has made a very public, dramatic and clear shift in his game (wing to post) to best utilize his talents in order to overcome his own real and perceived limitations.
Personally, I find LeBron to be much more relatable than Jordan, simply because he is willing to speak his mind and be honest with people, because he is relatively transparent and because his struggles were so public. Sure, he has the shoes like Jordan, the brands like Jordan and the stardom like Jordan. But where Jordan always seemed far away and on a pedestal, James seems a little closer. Maybe some of that has to do with social media and a 24-hour news cycle. But giving honest answers like that, and him not feeling like he is too good (like many athletes and coaches) to give a truthful, carefully considered answer is something that could have been done — and should have been done — in any era.
You have to respect James for his honesty. It seems his fear of failure outweighs his fear of criticism.