Why LeBron is Close to Entering the Peyton Manning Zone

LeBron James

The team concept is an interesting thing when you are dealing with legendary players. When the team is winning the player gets the majority of the credit. But when the team loses, it is usually the teammates that take most of the blame.

Peyton Manning is the greatest regular season quarterback of all-time. I don’t think you will get much of an argument from anyone about that. If I needed to win a regular season game, I would want Peyton Manning as the quarterback.

In the playoffs, that is when the problems arise. Manning’s playoff record is 11-12 and he is 1-2 in Super Bowls. The reasons for his average record varies (here is a in detail report, that separates the facts from fiction), but the fact remains when you are a legendary player, what happens in the playoffs, and specifically in championship games/series, matter.  Stats only tell part of the story…this is more about perception.

In any team sport there is always a lot of gray area when it comes to success and failure.  This isn’t tennis, golf, boxing, track & field, etc., where it is an individual sport and you can easily ID if someone is to blame for their own failure or not.  There are too many moving parts, variables and quirky bounces that can be the difference between winning and losing. Individuals like Skip Bayless try to make things black and white.  Using LeBron for example, in the Skiptized world of media, you just choose a side and regardless of the outcome you stick to that narrative.  If the Heat win this is how it is addressed.

When the Heat lose, this is the “TAKE” that people have.

In those instances someone like LeBron or Peyton can’t win, but on the flip side of that, there are people who are the exact opposite of Skip who will make a million excuses for them, without laying any blame on them at all.

So, what is fair?

What people need to understand is that once you hit a certain a level, the only thing that matters is championships.  Before the season started Carmelo Anthony mentioned that reaching the Eastern Conference Finals would be consider a success. That is what players who are a step below legendary say.  When you are Peyton Manning or a LeBron James just getting there isn’t good enough, because you are judged to the highest of standards.

One of the greatest compliments given to Kobe Bryant is people actually have him in the discussion with Michael Jordan. When you are in the GOAT discussion you have reached a certain status that is above almost all of your peers.  With that status comes a certain amount of pressure, which is why there is always that BUT. With Peyton Manning having broken so many records, thrown for so many yards & TDs and won so many games, he has reached that status, but……

You can’t get over the fact that you feel like he should have won more Super Bowls.  The GOAT should just have more. When you think of the GOAT in every team sport or individual sport the first thing they talk about are championships, and it is plural for a reason.

Peyton Manning’s career is coming to a close, while LeBron, who already has two titles, has many quality years in his future, but he set the bar high for himself.

I believe Wilt Chamberlain was a better Center than Bill Russell, but Russell is mentioned far more often.  I think Jerry West and Oscar Robertson are two of the greatest of all-time period, but you don’t hear about them enough.  Is it fair that championships are weighed so heavily in the NBA?  Maybe, maybe not, but the facts are when you are being compared to the legends they need a way to separate you and rings is normally the first place they start.

LeBron, currently sitting at 2-3 in the Finals, shouldn’t been seen as a negative.  I thought in the social media age, we have a very short memory.  I remember this though…..

LeBron James Chosen One

You know how many “Chosen Ones” there have been over the years? There have been a lot, and most of them have flamed out. At the age of 17 LeBron was anointed the future of the NBA. Imagine being a junior in high school and being told you are destined to be the greatest player of your generation? People assumed Jordan would be good coming out of North Carolina, but no one knew what he would become. Same with Kobe and many others. But LeBron had that pressure back when most of us were just happy to lose our virginity. Many thought he would be a bust, saying he couldn’t shoot, or he wouldn’t be able to handle the lofty expectations.

But for 10 years he has been as close to exceeding the humongous expectations that was placed on him as a teenager, both on and off the court. On the court, the stats, the MVPs, and the broken records speak for themselves. Off the court, even with a big huge target on his back, he has navigated his way pretty well (The Decision was his biggest misstep and in the grand scheme of things it wasn’t that bad).

In those 10 years he has been to five Finals. If you could go back in time when that “Chosen One” cover came out and said LeBron would be in five NBA Finals in his 1st 10 years in the league, winning two and all his other accolades, you would say he would be exceeding expectations.

But, LeBron isn’t just fighting against peers like the Spurs or Pacers, he is fighting the ghosts from players that are still alive. The Ghost of Jordan, The Ghost of Kobe, The Ghost of Russell, and now The Ghost of Duncan. The same way Peyton is fighting against The Ghost of Montana and, as always, The Ghost of Brady.

LeBron has to be careful he doesn’t enter the Peyton Zone. He needs to flip his championships on the positive side. No one talks about the four championships Magic lost because he won five or the two Bird lost because he won three. But they do mention Dr. J went 1-3, because it is just one of those things that can’t be avoided.

Many people are going to pretend like they can predict the future, but no one really knows what is going to happen. LeBron is still in his prime, and be it with Miami or somewhere else, he will have a good 5-7 years of trying to win NBA Championships. LeBron is going to end his career with astronomical numbers, just like Peyton Manning, but depending on how many of his final years end with him holding the Larry O’Brien Trophy will determine if there will be a “but” after reading off a list of those accomplishments.

I wish I could tell you what will happen, but I can’t. But what I can advise you is very similar to Peyton Manning—appreciate that you are watching greatness and a legacy being built, changed and manipulated in real time. That doesn’t happen often and we all should be witnesses to that no matter if it ends in success or failure.

3 thoughts on “Why LeBron is Close to Entering the Peyton Manning Zone

  • Good stuff Robert. Thanks for putting all the Lebron James dislike/ hate aside and putting things into perspective.

  • Rob-

    So last year, you were all on LeBron’s d*ck, yapping about ring protection and now, he’s Peyton Manning.


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