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[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Playing for the Chicago Bulls, Michael Jordan made a lot of his teammates look really good. Not that those guys couldn’t play, but Mike made them look even better.

One reason was because Mike himself was so good; his Bulls teammates didn’t have to try doing any more than what they were naturally capable of for the team to succeed. Another reason was because of how hard Mike pushed his teammates in their daily practices; the players had a standard to live up to that caused them all to play at their full capacity of skill at all times.

After Jordan retired in 1999, the Bulls dynasty team split up and people went their separate ways. Several now-former Jordan teammates subsequently signed the biggest contracts of their careers, many of them later proved incapable of living up to expectations. To their new teams, it seemed that being around Jordan had made them look better than they proved to actually be.

LeBron James left the Miami Heat after four season in Miami in the summer of 2014; one of the reasons many people around the league suggested was the Heat’s growing unwillingness to spend money on quality role players to surround LeBron. The Heat had made some salary-saving moves over LeBron’s last two seasons that weakened (or failed to strengthen) the club, and may have helped LeBron decide to go back home to Ohio and re-join the Cavs.

Conversely, over the four seasons LeBron spent back in Cleveland, the Cavs entered agreements with players that seemed to be, considering the market for said players, exorbitant. Many fans and analysts wrote those deals off as LeBron-pleasing maneuvers: The Cavs were willing to pay, or even over-pay, players that LeBron liked playing with, just to keep LeBron (who had the leverage of being on one-year contracts) happy. Being a LeBron favorite (or merely a LeBron teammate) was, in essence, a good business move for many players.

Even in his first stint in Cleveland, LeBron James had made several players appear better than they turned out to be after being separated from James. Considering the League in general, superstars like LeBron were a major part of the reason companies like ESPN and TNT agreed to pay $24 Billion over nine years for the rights to broadcast NBA games — those dollars are the dollars that pay what could seem to be ridiculous amounts to players whom you’ve never heard of. Also consider that some estimate LeBron to worth about $100 Million more to a team than what he’s actually paid in salary.   LeBron’s presence alone has made many basketball players, owners and salespeople (merchandise, tickets) wealthy without being on his team.

I thought of Mike and LeBron as I listened to Jay-Z rapping.

On the song BOSS off his joint album with wife Beyoncé, Jay raps,

Here, we measure success by how many people successful next to you
Here we say you broke if everybody else is broke except for you

To be great is not just about you.

For Your Game

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