Kobe Bryant caused a bit of a stir Friday night with his unfavorable comparison of North American players to European ones, in which he cited AAU basketball as a culprit for failing to properly teach youngsters the game.
Put LeBron James in Bryant's camp on this one.
James actually expressed a similar sentiment about the AAU a few days earlier, in an interview with Bleacher Report's Ethan Skolnick published Dec. 29.
From that interview:
B/R: Is there something that between 30 and 35, or 40, by the time you're done, that you'd like to see changed in the league?
LJ: Fundamentals. Fundamentals and the thinking game. That's what I would like to change. There's not many guys that think the game. And the fundamentals are not where they used to be.
B/R: Why do you think that is?
LJ: I don't know. I don't know if it's the little league coaches or AAU ball. I just don't think the game is being taught the right way. I'm not saying every coach. Because I know my little league coaches were great, and they taught the fundamentals, and we played for (the) team. It has something to do with something. There's a shortage somewhere going on.
B/R: So it's become more individual over time?
LJ: Yeah, I've seen it over time. And it's hard because these little league coaches and these AAU coaches get a player, and he's so good, and they want to win so bad that they just kind of give everything to that kid to keep him around. And hopefully, he doesn't go to a better team or however it goes.
But they stop teaching all the guys, and they stop teaching what this really means. This is a team game, man. This is not about one individual. Not one individual has won a championship or even won anything by himself. Obviously, I know individual accolades come with it but, for me, I've always said if I'm going to accomplish anything individually, it's only going to happen because my team is successful.