LeBron James is one of the greatest athletes ever. People who’ve never seen a basketball game still know about his success in the NBA. This reputation is well-earned, as James took the league by storm at 18 years old and continues to do so at 35. However, one part of his reputation involves his coachability or lack thereof. Do coaches struggle to lead with James?
A man of many coaches
RELATED: Is Kyrie Irving a Coach Killer?
Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant had Phil Jackson to help turn their careers around. Bill Russell had Red Auerbach to do the same. Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and the Warriors can thank Steve Kerr for helping them go from fringe playoff team to historic dynasty overnight. The case of James and his coaches, however, is a little bit murkier, details Bleacher Report.
Starting with his first coach, Paul Silas, James has had a hard time keeping coaches around to build a rapport. Part of this has to do with the fact that he’s moved around more than many superstars. However, even when James stayed in one place for multiple years, his coaches have had a historically short shelf life.
Paul Silas was gone near the end of James’ second season. Mike Brown had success with James, coaching him for five years. Erik Spoelstra started with the Heat before James got there and remains to this day. Since leaving Miami, however, James has seen many coaches come and go. David Blatt was fired after little more than a year despite leading the Cavaliers to the 2015 NBA Finals.
Ty Lue lasted the rest of James’ career in Cleveland but was quickly fired after James left. Luke Walton was the Lakers’ coach when James signed with the team, but he was promptly let go after the Lakers failed to make the playoffs. When James gets along with a coach, they are likely there for the long haul. However, his history also shows that if he does not like a coach, he will flex his power to get them out of there.
Is LeBron James coachable?
Coaching a man who is, perhaps, the greatest player in NBA history is a double-edged sword, explains USA Today. On the one hand, his presence alone makes the team an automatic contender for playoff success. On the other, however, it puts a target on their back, as ESPN details. The coaches James gets along with most often give him the most freedom on the court.
Mike Brown wasn’t known for his incredible offenses, but he lasted five years, letting James run the offense on the court. Ty Lue used a similar strategy despite having a deeper roster. Spoelstra, on the other hand, didn’t immediately click with James. Despite rumors that James wanted him out of there, he remains in Miami to this day. Blatt was not as lucky.
James requires freedom to do what he does best, and while this can make him seem uncoachable, his current coach has praised his coachability.
Coach Frank Vogel on LeBron James
After 20 years of Kobe Bryant, the LA Lakers know how to appease a star while maximizing their coaching opportunities. Frank Vogel came on in the offseason after a tumultuous search and had many questioning whether he was the answer. After the Lakers became one of the best teams in the league again, however, it appears to have paid off.
Commenting on James, Vogel said that the superstar was not hard to coach at all. “He’s been extremely coachable for me and our coaching staff here this year,” Vogel said per Silver Screen and Roll.
Vogel struck a chord with James, and the Lakers were better for it. It’s not proof that LeBron is inherently coachable, however. James would be a hard player to coach, but like any star, it’s up to the team to get a coach who best utilizes his talent. James doesn’t need to like a coach to succeed. However, when he does develop a rapport with one, they often become some of the best teams that he’s played for in his long, illustrious career.