“When LeBron James Goes Right, He Usually Drives”: Michael Jordan Breaking Down How to Defend LBJ Before 2013 All-Star Game Resurfaces

The NBA All-Star Weekend is upon us, and so are the times for throwbacks. One particular post that caught fans’ eyes involved the two greatest players to play the game, Michael Jordan and LeBron James. The video dates back to February 17, 2013, before the All-Star game, when Jordan broke down his strategy when it came to defending LeBron.

Michael Jordan is widely considered the greatest player of all time, and the only other name that comes up in the same conversation is LeBron James. Even though these two legends never got a chance to play against each other in the league, there seems to be a competition within them. Jordan, arguably the most competitive person, studied LeBron’s game despite knowing he would never face off against him.

According to the six-time NBA champion, James prefers his right hand when trying to drive to the basket. With James’ height, body, and athletic ability, Jordan knows it would be an impossible matchup. Hence, if he were to defend the four-time NBA champion, he would prefer to force him to his left and settle for a jump shot or pass the ball. The NBA Hall of Famer broke down his defensive strategy on LeBron,

“I study him. When LeBron goes right, he usually drives; when he goes left, he usually shoots a jumper. It has to do with his mechanics and how he loads the ball for release. So, if I have to guard him, I’m gonna push him left 9 out 10 times. If he goes right he’s going to the hole and I can’t stop him. So, I ain’t letting him go right.”

Jordan revealed his strategy in an interview before the 2013 All-Star game featuring LeBron James. It also featured the late-great Kobe Bryant, who was diligently taking notes from his mentor. As expected, the Los Angeles Lakers legend decided to implement his big brother’s advice on the court and played lockdown defense during the All-Star game.

Kobe Bryant’s defense against LBJ in the All-Star game

If there is one person who took the competition as seriously as Michael Jordan, it was Kobe Bryant. His ‘Mamba Mentality’ saw no bounds and applied to the All-Star game as well. After taking Jordan’s advice on guarding LeBron, the five-time NBA champion restricted the player to 19 points, 5 assists, and 3 rebounds on 38.9% shooting from the field, along with 4 turnovers.

The 2013 All-Star game was not the only time Bryant challenged LeBron. In 2012, the two players faced each other in the All-Star games’ East versus West matchup, and the game came down to the wire.

With 15.3 seconds left on the clock, the East were down by two points and had possession of the ball. Bryant was guarding James as if it were the NBA Finals, and LeBron had two chances to take the shot over Kobe but instead decided to pass the ball.

After the buzzer sounded off, Bryant was unhappy with James’ approach and called him out for passing the ball twice. It just goes to show how dedicated Bryant was toward the game and never let his guard down, irrespective of the moment.

 

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