Haywood On MJ, LeBron: "Their Leadership Styles Are Different"

Brendan Haywood had the privilege of playing with both Michael Jordan and LeBron James; those experiences were quite different

JRSportBrief
May 20, 2020 - 8:09 am
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As the dust settles on The Last Dance, Michael Jordan’s former teammate, Brendan Haywood, dropped by CBS Sports Radio to share his thoughts on the 10-part documentary.

Haywood’s take? Two thumbs up.

“There’s nothing that I could have asked for more from The Last Dance,” Haywood said on JR SportBrief. “The Last Dance gave everybody a chance to see Mike in a different light. Even as somebody that played with him for two years, I never saw the softer side of Mike. Like Mike writing poetry after he won the championship, I never saw that side of Mike. Or the guy that was about to break down and get emotional because of people criticizing how he went about things with his teammates, I never saw that side of Mike.”

Haywood, 40, played with Jordan in Washington. The 20th overall pick in 2001, he spent his first two seasons learning from the six-time champion.

“I think that The Last Dance did an excellent job of showing the human side, showing how all the pressure of being Michael Jordan just weighed on MJ and forced him to retire and not have as much fun,” Haywood said. “Everybody thinks it’s fun to be Michael Jordan, but Michael Jordan himself was like, ‘No, this life isn’t really what you want.’ So I think ESPN did an excellent job of showing us MJ as more than just a basketball player, showing us everything that goes into being Michael Jordan.”

Haywood also had the privilege of playing with LeBron James. They were teammates in Cleveland during Haywood’s final season in the NBA (2014-15).

“The experience of playing with LeBron was great because LeBron is really a great guy. He’s a great person,” Haywood said. “People always ask, ‘What’s the difference between playing with Mike and LeBron?’ Their leadership styles are different. Mike is going to be in your face and demonstrative. LeBron is going to be more calm. He’s going to try to let you find your own way. When he tries to tell you something, he’s going to be more passive-aggressive. But then genuinely LeBron wants to bring everybody together. He’s the guy that’s going to have everybody out to dinner on the road. Everybody, let’s go bowling. Everybody, [let’s] go to the movie. That’s the type of stuff that he does because LeBron wants to bring the whole team together. He wants that team dynamic to be strong.”

Haywood, though, took it a step further.

“He’s the most generous superstar I’ve ever played with,” Haywood said. “Listen, when LeBron got stuff, the whole team got it. He was sponsored by Samsung, he was giving us Samsung phones. I was an iPhone guy, and I still had Samsung phones. I was giving them away. Beats by Dre, man, I had every single color. He just made sure that his guys were taking care of. When the new [LeBron shoes] came out, he made sure everybody had multiple pairs [and] sent them to your family if you needed them. LeBron is a great person. That’s the biggest takeaway. LeBron is just really a great person, and he cares about his teammates. He is willing to share everything he has with his teammates. Some stars aren’t like that, but LeBron really is.”