The Lebron James Paradox
I have this strange love/hate relationship with LeBron. Let me clarify, it’s not a relationship because I don’t know him personally.
But you know what I’m saying…
LeBron is the best player of his generation (there may be some debate of where his generation begins). Saying he’s one of the best players to ever grace the hardwood is like saying water is wet. My problem with LeBron is that everything seems so fabricated. That could be the pessimism of living in this artificial social media culture that is tempering my opinion. There are very few moments that feels honest, in a basketball context. His comradery with his teammates all seems posed and corny.
Then there is philanthropist LeBron…
This is a side of LeBron that he is making more public in recent years. He has begun to speak out on social issues and he not only gives money but gives his time to endeavors that he’s passionate about. He is the ultimate feel-good story. His calling “45” a bum was easily one of the best sports moments in 2017. He carried that momentum in 2018 by serving Laura Ingraham an L during All-Star Weekend. He has taken the mantle of being socially conscious in a world that would rather spend time creating a perfect Instagram life than fighting for actual change. This same world has been fragmented by race and class while we live in a created social media world. Instead of being the next Jordan in that aspect, he chose to be the next Kareem Abdul Jabbar.
Then the trade deadline happened…
A team that was pretty much overhauled in the offseason. The mini banana boat crew didn’t work in Cleveland because well – D. Wade is old, hurt, and has lost a step. He often seemed lost in the offense and LBJ wanted Batman and Robin but instead, he got Art and Ben (old guys from Cocoon). Unfortunately, this isn’t a movie so there wasn’t a fountain of youth to be found. He never seems to be happy with his team unless they win a championship.
He continually holds franchises hostage with the refusal to sign a long-term contract which makes him a never-ending sports story. There is a LeBron will sign with ____ story daily on every sports outlet. I can’t be the only person tired of the “Where is the LeBron going “ topics.
It’s annoying. Actually, it’s obnoxious. It’s a self-centered desire to drive sports news. That’s not to say that sports media isn’t complicit in this.
LeBron is a player whose talent is undeniable but he has an insatiable yearning to be liked and loved. I imagine when you’ve always been “the man” you are probably forever searching for that “real love”. That search is what motivates him to curate his manicured image where even candid moments seem to be a part of the LBJ Reality Show. He has led a scandal-free career and I’m sure that is not by accident. His biggest pox is the fact that he held a television special to announce where he is going in Free Agency.
Overall I love his game. He’s Scottie Pippen 2.0 — bigger, stronger, faster and way more gifted. I was always a huge Pippen fan. He sees the floor like a new generation Magic Johnson. He is a force with the rock whenever he feels like it — like a Wilt in his prime. LBJ makes other players seem small. I’ll never forget the last 2 minutes of Game 5 in the playoffs where he shut down then MVP Derrick Rose. Who can forget the Finals block on Steph or the run-down block of Iggy. He can be so dominant at points that we internally wonder if we can adjust the sliders to make the game a little more difficult for him.
That’s probably why it annoys most of us his about his yearly whining about needing new teammates or incessant flopping.
LeBron is on the Mt. Rushmore of NBA Greats. He’s also one of the most annoying diva personalities to ever grace the hardwood floor. I’m just over his player antics – from the flopping to his fear of commitment to an NBA team. He’s not Jordan or Kobe as he shouldn’t be – but man how great would it be if the LBJ stories were actually just about his basketball and philanthropy?
I want to love him like I love other players’ game I admire. But I can’t. It like being served Chinese food by a white person. It looks good, it may even smell right, but it’s not right – something isn’t right. When all is said done, you eat it, but you walk away feeling unfulfilled.