LeBron James-Kobe Bryant All Star Game Exchange Once Again Shows LeBron’s True Colors

90% of an All Star Game is meaningless.

For most of the game, nobody plays defense, everybody showboats, and the main goal is to put on a show.

But then there’s that 10%.  And boy can we learn some interesting things from that 10%.


LeBron James talks to Craig Sager after last night's All Star Game. (Screenshot via Black Sports Online)

Most importantly, we often get to see a player’s mental makeup.  We get clued in on who is the alpha dog in the group.

Here’s an example:

Who Is The Alpha Dog?

In the Young Guns game on Friday night, Jeremy Lin and Ricky Rubio started the game on the same team.  In such instances, I often wonder, “Who’s going to take the point?”  As a point guard, I know how much I personally covet the spot in the same circumstance.  It’s not like you necessarily want to dominate the game…but that position is YOURS and nobody else’s.

Ricky Rubio took over from step one, and Jeremy Lin was fine with it.  He comfortably drifted around the wings as Rubio ran the show.  For me, that said A LOT.  Rubio was the alpha dog, AND Jeremy Lin knew it.

The same thing happened in the All Star game last night.  For most of the 4th quarter, Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul shared playing time.  And actually, Westbrook played GREAT…but Chris Paul was running the show, and Westbrook didn’t fight for it.

At this point in their respective careers, Westbrook deferred to Chris Paul.

That doesn’t mean that Chris Paul is necessarily the better player.  We know he’s not the better athlete or scorer.  But he IS the alpha dog…the player with the most mental toughness…the leader of the team, so to speak.

That’s why what happened at the end of the game was so interesting.

And also…before we get started, for anyone that says “This was just an All-Star game,” let me remind you that the entire tone of the game changed when Dwyane Wade LITERALLY broke Kobe Bryant’s nose from behind.

At that point…this game MEANT something.

True Colors of LeBron and Kobe Shine Through

For all of the LeBron haters out there, let’s just remember that his team was down 15 when he came into the game with 7 minutes left.

Let’s remember the 3 or 4 UNBELIEVABLE shots he hit to bring his team back into the game.

Let’s remember that Dwyane Wade dropped a laughably easy pass on a breakaway that would have given his team the first lead of the game.

Let’s also remember that Deron Williams nearly air-balled a wide open look that also would have given his team the lead.


(And this is a big but…)

Once again, LeBron sprinted away from the moment at the end of the game.



(And this is a HUGE and…)

Kobe called him out on it.

Kobe Bryant punked out LeBron on national television, and LeBron stood there and took it like the little brother.

If you watch the final few minutes closely, a few things jump out at you.

1. Kobe switched over to guard LeBron at about the 2:00 mark.  Interestingly enough, LeBron took ZERO shots in the last two minutes.

Why is this a big deal?  Because anybody who watches the NBA knows that at this point, Kobe has absolutely no business guarding LeBron.  But there he was, taking up the challenge.  And not only was he picking him up, he was pressuring him out on the floor.

And as soon as Kobe stood up to LeBron…The Chosen One started deferring to everybody else.

And yes, LeBron lovers, I understand that Michael Jordan made passes to Paxson and Kerr at the end of games.  Simply taking the final shot doesn’t mean you made the right play.

But again, in an All-Star game, the most important things that we learn are about the mental makeup of players.  LeBron shrunk from the moment as soon as Kobe began guarding him.  Interesting.

2. Secondly, there’s the final two plays that everybody is talking about.

You have heard both angles:

  • LeBron’s fans blame Deron Williams for missing and Tom Thibedeau for making him pass the ball in.
  • LeBron’s haters say that LeBron should have shot the ball in both instances and this proves he’s not clutch.

But for me, the most telling thing about both plays is LeBron’s body language.

Watch him as soon as he passes to Deron Williams.  He stands there, motionless, basically announcing to the world that his job was done.

“Look, everyone.  I made a good pass!  It’s on you now, Deron.”

Bad Basketball.  Cowardly.  Not Clutch.  It was all of those things.

Do you remember in 1998 against the Pacers in Game 7 when Jordan couldn’t shoot the ball, so he began attacking the basket at will in order to get to the free throw line?  No matter what it took…Jordan was winning that game.

The same thing happened in Game 7 of the NBA Finals two years ago with Kobe.  He was a dreadful 6 for 24, but he found other ways to win.  He grabbed offensive rebounds, and no matter what would not let his team lose.

Do you think Jordan or Kobe would have chilled near half-court while a three-pointer was headed to the basket with 7 seconds left while his team was trailing?

Not in your life.

But THEN!!!!

The East got the rebound, and Deron Williams frantically got the ball to LeBron as fast as he could.

Here is his moment. The play that the coach called didn’t work. Now it’s time for the great ones to improvise.

6 seconds.  Down only two.  All the options were in play.  He had a one on one with his biggest rival.

And he made a pass that junior highers know is stupid.

But again, watch LeBron’s body language.  He dribbled away from the basket.  He lazily made a one-handed baseball pass all the way across the court.  When it was intercepted, he stood there…defeated.

3. And FINALLY…(and this is a massive finally)…there was the Kobe Jedi Mind Trick.

When LeBron got the ball back from Deron Williams, the whole world saw Kobe get into his grill.  He was talking to him.  Shouting something.  It looked as if he was daring him to shoot the ball.  (Come to find out, that’s EXACTLY what was going on).

LeBron shrunk.  He turned the ball over.  AND KOBE LET HIM HEAR IT.


Kobe Bryant gives LeBron James a piece of his mind after James declined to shoot in the final seconds of Sunday night's All-Star Game in Orlando. (Gary W. Green, Orlando Sentinel via Cleveland.com)

He stood there, defiantly yelling in The Chosen One’s face.  “COME ON MAN!!!!  YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE THE BEST!!!  YOU HAVE TO WANT THAT SHOT!!!  HOW ARE YOU GOING TO PASS IN THAT SITUATION!?!?”

LeBron stood there like a whipped puppy…and took his beating from his master.

Blake missed.  Blake made.  The East still had a shot.

As LeBron walked out onto the court, Jedi Master Kobe met him.  But LeBron kept walking…across the court…all the way to the sideline.  And Kobe couldn’t believe it.


It was almost sad, really.

Kobe, the ultimate competitor, just wanted LeBron to take the chance.  Really, he just wanted LeBron to WANT the chance.  And he refused.

It wasn’t just that LeBron passed on the opportunity…it was the fact that Kobe knew he would and fearlessly called him out on it.

It was very Jordanesque really.

I haven’t seen a mind trick like that since Jordan made fun of Drexler SO MUCH during Dream Team practice that Clyde actually showed up with two left shoes to practice one day and chose to play in them because he didn’t want Jordan to make fun of him for it.

Kobe was STILL the alpha dog.  Durant, CP3, Wade, and others were fighting for it.  LeBron was just the ref. He threw the ball into the air for everyone else to fight over it. He took himself out of the game.

What Does This Say About LeBron?

Now whether or not you agree with my retelling of the story, let me just ask you this one question:

Would anybody ever have DARED to talk to Jordan like that?  Or Kobe?  Or Bird?

Good grief…would anybody have ever DARED to talk to Reggie Miller like that?

Have you ever seen a player this great in ANY sport that is SO DISRESPECTED by his peers?

Did DeShawn Stevenson make a shirt for Kobe after whipping them in the playoffs?


And that’s the largest NO of all.

About Jon Washburn

Jon Washburn grew up in Indianapolis, IN and as such, is a diehard Pacers, Colts, and Cubs fans. When it comes to college, he cheers for Notre Dame football fan and Purdue basketball. Yes, this sounds shady, but since he grew up without cable, he learned to love Notre Dame - the only team on TV. Glenn "The Big Dog" Robinson was at Purdue when Jon was in his formative years, so he latched onto them as well. Did that make him a fair-weather fan at the time? Sure. Give him a break...he was 8...and he has stayed with those teams ever since. Currently, he lives in Charleston, SC with his wife who grew up in Cleveland. Although he is no longer physically in the Midwest, his heart will always be there. Jon goes by the name "Twitch" because he has Tourette's Syndrome. Hit him up on his twitter @jwtwitch.


  1. Nick Wadden says:

    you should never write an article again. and thats putting it nicely

    • Thanks for visiting Nick, but I think a comment like that deserves a bit of explanation. What don’t you like about the piece? It’s factual, balanced, and timely. And most of all, it’s accurate.

      • Johndoe says:

        How is it balanced when it is blatantly obvious that he spent the majority of the article chastising Lebron?

      • This article is an example of the price we pay for our right to free speech. Who is the alpha dog??? What bearing does this have in basketball? The author readily admits that it does not translate to being a better basketball player. I wonder how many teams go for mental toughness over skills. You used a lot of words to say nothing.

        In the words of Nick Wadden you should never ever ever ever write an article again.

    • thebrownmonster says:


    • I agree with you, Jerod. I thought that’s what I was seeing as I was casually watching. You added some intersting insight. Thanks!

  2. thebrownmonster says:

    this is absolutely the truth! James and Wade are so tired of hearing about Kobe and being in his shadow. Even last year Wade whined when Kobe got MVP and this year he delivered the puss hard foul on Kobe… totally uncalled for in th ASG. LeBron lives up to his reputation… again. He blew it. Hell, Kevin Durant is a better player than LeBron or Wade will ever be.

  3. It seems like Kobe wants lebron to carry the tourch and was giving it to him in his hand and lebron was scared.

  4. Are those quotes really from Kobe?

  5. Haynes_victor says:

    LBJ is not ready for prime time.That is why he left Cleveland,the kid just does not have what it take s to be the man.The rookie Irving already has three game winning shots for the SEASON.Lebron Who?

  6. dumbass.. more like jeremy lin requested to play less minutes because he wanted the others to have the spotlight to show case their skills. he didn’t want to hog the spot light seeing that he knows that it was unfair that the media didn’t give much attention to the other players before hand compared to his… the guy is humble and good mannered. On topic, Do you really have to write this crap about lebron? EVERYONE already knows who he is… Didn’t you watch last season finals? or any bball for the past 9 years??????! Lebron chokes and crumbles when it’s crunch time. he isn’t clutch. everyone knows that.. so what do you mean by “true colors”??? dumbass.. don’t bother writing any bullshit piece of crap about lebron or bball ever again.. PS: go watch youtube videos about lebron choking on games. people already knows that, you didn;t have to write about it… Also, kobe wanted lebron to shoot the ball because he wants LB to grow as a player, w/e i don’t even want to explain it to you dumbass bullshit writer… useless piece of crap.. delete your article please.. makes me puke..

  7. And yet…  it was just an all star game…  No matter what anyone says, that’s all it was.  It’s like coming to conclusions about a baseball spring training game because they were playing a rival team.  It’s not a real game time environment.  And being the all star media event that it was, this “alpha dog” stuff equates more to ego’s than anything else.  

  8. Good article. Nick should never comment online again.

  9. How does this guy know Kobe said all that stuff? Really 

  10. Queen of Miami says:

    Someone wrote that Lebron didn’t want to hog the spotlight. BULL SHIT!!!
    That is all he knows to do. And this is the time he chooses to be humble and not take the spotlight. AGAIN!! BULL SHIT! He doesn’t give a shit if they win or not. He finally got his damn ring, and now he doesn’t care about anything else. He is a shitty sportsman. Yes, a good player but if you’re going to pull shitty plays like this, then you’re a MORON and you deserve to get told off by your peers ASSHOLE!

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