Lebron James, A Champion Revisited

A quick upfront disclaimer here. Every image in this post is an affiliate product, which means if you click on it you’ll be taken to a website where, if you like what you see and buy it, or anything else on that site, I’ll earn money from. Hey, at least I’m telling you about it, and it’s Lebron after all.

King James - Cavaliers Parade 2016
Carlos Javier via Compfight

That would be Lebron James, the MVP of the latest NBA Championship Series won by the Miami Heat in 5 games over the Oklahoma City Thunder. I felt so good for him, as I was cheering for Miami to win this series as kind of a “take that” at Cleveland and everyone else who was hating on Lebron for being, well, Lebron.

If you click on that link about you’ll see that I wrote about him last year around this same time, wondering why there’s so much hate for the kid from so many quarters, and even this year there was a lot of that.

It’s with some relief that it seems that a lot of that hate is dissipating now, even from seasoned journalists who are finally owning up to the fact that maybe their beliefs were a bit off about this guy. When all is said and done Lebron has been nothing but a guy who’s tried to please others, tried to do the right thing, was one of the best players in the league but had to learn that, when it comes to crunch time he just has to be the man and get it done.

James & the Golden Halo
Creative Commons License Steve Jurvetson via Compfight

He did that very well in both this series and in the last two games of the Boston series where there was pretty much nothing anyone could do to stop him and nothing anyone could do to score on him when he decided to shut them down. Let’s see, who’s that guy people were trying to compare him to last year? Well, he’s still not that guy, and he’s not Kobe Bryant either, but he’s finally on his way to being legitimately seen in that rarefied air.

See, I like to think I know a jerk when I see a jerk. Terrell Owens is a jerk. Mike Tyson was a jerk. Some people say Barry Bonds was a jerk; I think Barry just wanted to be left alone. I tend to believe that how a person acts in regular life is more a story of what they are than how they act when still in “athlete” mode. We all have our own criteria.

Lebron James has never been a jerk on the court, and he’s never been a jerk off the court. As I was saying to someone a couple of days ago, even after he left Cleveland he’s gone back to help with fundraising for one thing or another because he still sees that as home. Does that sound like a jerk?

I’m really glad Miami won since neither the Lakers or the Knicks could get it done. And I have one last thing to say, that being that the players on the Oklahoma team (man, even a few years down the road it seems strange that a professional basketball team is in Oklahoma) were the classiest group of guys I’ve ever seen after losing a championship. I was never so proud of a bunch of young guys stepping up and being real men, unlike some of the players on the Boston Celtics (hate them) team after losing to Miami in the Eastern Conference finals. The cream always comes to the top.

Overall, my favorite player of all time is still Wilt Chamberlain, my favorite player right now is still Kobe, but I’ve got nothing but love for Lebron’s game and his character; I gotcha back ‘Bron! 🙂
 

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The Hate For LeBron? My Take

About two weeks ago I wrote a post titled Why LeBron Isn’t Yet Michael Jordan. I tried to make it clear in that post that I wasn’t demeaning anything LeBron James has done to this point, only that comparing him to Michael Jordan right now was not only unfair, but not even close to realistic. At that time, I had hoped I wouldn’t have to write this particular post, but since Miami lost and people feel the need to pile it on his shoulders I felt I just had to have my say on this entire matter.

Man, where is this hate coming from? This man hasn’t been caught doing drugs or drinking. He hasn’t been caught beating women, cheating on women or having multiple babies by multiple women. He hasn’t said a bad thing about anyone that hasn’t said a bad thing about him first. He didn’t get caught in some kind of scandal; he hasn’t broken any laws.

What did he do that made so many people mad? He uttered one phrase: “I’m taking my talents to Miami.” Really, that’s it? That’s the thing worth beating him up about? Oh yeah, he did it on national TV, ESPN to be exact, in a hour long show. Ooohhh, the humanity!

Sheesh people, let’s get a life. Let’s look at some reality here. So Cleveland fans were upset; who cares? What did he do to the rest of the league? So he decided to join two other young superstars to try to win a championship. So did Kevin Garnett when he teamed with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. Anyone ever heard the name Earl Monroe, who had to leave Washington for the NY Knicks to play with 4 other future Hall of Famers to win his championship (okay, one of those guys made it as a coach, but he’s still in, or will be)? Did people beat up on Karl Malone, who left Utah to go to the LA Lakers to try to win his championship with Shaq and Kobe? For that matter did people beat up on Charles Barkley, who’s been beating up on LeBron James, for trying to do the same thing when he went to Phoenix many years ago to join Clyde Drexler and Kevin Johnson in trying to win a championship?

Does anyone care that it was ESPN that came up with the idea of doing the special in the first place, and yet all these ESPN analysts keep beating up on him instead of their own network? Does anyone care that doing that show raised almost $3 million for charity? Does anyone care that he left employment at a place he didn’t want to be anymore (something many of us have done) to go take another job with a pay cut (something none of us would have done)? Are people really so jealous and vain that they would deny a 25-year old (yes, by the way he’s still only 25) the opportunity to try to improve his lot?

No, I’m not hating on LeBron James now or ever, unless he does something illegal or really, really stupid. So he didn’t win this year; how many superstars have lost more than once before finally winning it all? How many of us have former employers dumping on us publicly because we left their employ, and would we like it if it happened to us? For that matter look at the governor of the state dumping on him; how childish is that? This man put your state on the map for something other than being a cesspool and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (yeah, I said it); just asking, but where did Cleveland basketball end up this year? For that matter where did either of your football teams end up? And how do you turn your back on someone that brought his all to you for 10 years of his life? Shame on you.

Yeah, I know, this post won’t necessarily be popular, and it’s kind of a deviation from the norm, but come on folks. Isn’t this what we paid for when free agency was made legal? In the scope of things is this really worth the derision?

Go on with your bad self, LeBron. So you didn’t win; I’m sure you will. And to keep it all honest, I’ll still be pulling for the Lakers as my main team, and I’ll be pulling for the Knicks as my team that’s in your division. But if those two teams can’t win, then you’re allowed to take the Heat to the top.

Just don’t beat my teams. 🙂

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Why LeBron Isn’t Yet Michael Jordan

I’ll just state this up front; I’m pulling for the Miami Heat to beat the Dallas Mavericks in this year’s NBA championship. I’m doing so for quite a few reasons, but I’m going to withhold that for now because it’s not the topic of this rather quick post; at least it’s planned on being a quick post.

Last week Scottie Pippen, the Hall of Famer that won 6 championships with Michael Jordan and wouldn’t have won a single thing without him (or been in the Hall of Fame without him) came out with what was one of the most idiotic statements one player has ever said about another player, past or present. He stated that LeBron James now is a better player than Michael Jordan ever was, and history would back that statement up.

Now, it’s not a secret to many people that pay attention to professional basketball that Pippen has always felt like the odd man out. He’s always felt like he should have gotten equal acclaim to Jordan, kind of like Kobe Bryant felt when he was teamed with Shaquille O’Neal. The problem here is that Pippen wasn’t even Kobe. Pippen had his chance in two years to help his team win a championship, and instead one of those years he refused to go back into the game when it was on the line, jealous of another player on the team from Europe. Kobe went on to win championships without Shaq, proving his legacy.

So, if LeBron as good as Jordan was? Not even close. He’s very good, and no one can take that away from him, but come on, let’s be realistic. In their prime, if you put Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman, who wasn’t a scorer, against LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, who do you think would win? Is there anyone who really believes a Michael Jordan-led team would have lost a basketball game they were 15 points up in with just over 5 minutes to play? Does anyone think that Michael Jordan would have stayed outside chucking up 3-pointers instead of driving the ball into the middle and at least getting fouled so his team would at least keep scoring some points to offset whatever the other team was doing?

LeBron James is good; really good. So is Dwayne Wade. Michael was good AND smart. Michael Jordan got better every single year; there were few players in history as mentally tough and talented as this guy. And I don’t even have him as my top NBA player of all time; that would go to Wilt Chamberlain, who was also my favorite basketball player of all time. It’s hard to compare people who played different positions like this, but Wilt made the NBA change rules; heck, Wilt made college basketball change rules. Wilt averaged more than 50 points a game one year; he averaged more than 25 rebounds a game one year. Wilt took teams without stars close to championship games; Bill Russell lead teams with stars to championships. But Wilt was the man.

Jordan was the second man. In essence, Jordan led his team to 6 championships in a row if we ignore the two years he went off to play basketball. Jordan made sure his team won when it counted. He knew he was talented, but he also knew he needed to be more. Even if LeBron helps his team win the championship this year, which I hope he does, he doesn’t knock Jordan off the pedestal. Not until he learns to take over when his team is reeling, get to the foul line and keep his team from collapsing down the stretch.

Enough said; okay, it wasn’t as short as I thought it might be. lol
 

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