Over the last several weeks, the ESPN documentary “The Last Dance” has given NBA fans a glimpse into the harsh and demanding style of leadership that Michael Jordan exuded over the Chicago Bulls.
The Cleveland Cavaliers’ Kevin Love told Ernie Johnson of “NBA on TNT” that LeBron James was much the same way during his time with the Wine and Gold.
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“He’s demanding in all the right ways and for right reasons,” Love said of James. “He has that strive for [greatness] saying that he always lives by, and he really won’t accept anything else. I think Jordan was…they’re different in their own right. I think Kobe [Bryant] was the same in trying to get the best out of their guys. I think Bron was absolutely very, very demanding but always was looking out for his guys. Always wanted to build you up. Always wanted to set you up for success.
“Just being who he is and our team being who we were, trying to advance to the Finals and having high expectations, with that there was a lot of things that go into that. … I think Bron was super demanding, was somebody that, if you weren’t playing hard or you weren’t giving the game what you should have, then he was going to get on you. In most cases, it was rightfully so. Just trying to get the best out of everybody. And I think you see that. But I’ve never been around somebody that is so much about camaraderie.”
This type of demanding nature seems to be a constant of all the greats. Even in other industries, it’s been documented that people like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs also had a fire-and-brimstone style of leadership.
Even the critics of this style of management have to admit that, at least for James and the Cavs, it worked. They reached the NBA Finals in each season of the superstar’s second stint there and won it all in 2016.
Perhaps the best way to exude this type of leadership is to balance it out with love and treating teammates very well, as Love alluded to.
It’s something James has become known for, especially this season, as he has publicly praised his Los Angeles Lakers teammates, especially Anthony Davis.