LeBron James only wants to be loved right? What makes him one of the most hated atheletes in history? Will Cleveland ever allow the King to return?
Once a week
we like to kick back and put all the NCAA basketball odds and NBA betting aside while we
have another cup of coffee, take our rightful place in our most comfortable
recliner and contemplate the week that was.
LeBron, Cleveland and Kobe
never met a spotlight that shined bright enough, so while his Decision (the
ESPN manufactured made for TV drama) to leave middle America for the syncopated
rhythm that is South Beach may have turned off everyone except Heat fans, it
ushered in the concept of the Super Team. Evidently LeBron and fellow All-Star Chris Bosh realized their contracts
would be up at the same time and the ultimate pitchman Dwayne Wade had just the
place for them to ply their trade. It
amounted to three All-Stars reveling in the South Beach scene of scantily clad
women basking in the hot Florida sunshine but only one basketball between
them. Tongues were now wagging and
suddenly it wasn’t only the old folks with asthma that wanted to beat the Heat.
it is ancient history I know but it’s worth recalling in light of LeBron’s recent
comments where he lamented the way he left Cleveland and pondered the prospects
of his return.
stated, “It would be fun to play in front of these fans again. I had a lot fun
times in my seven years here. You can't predict the future, and hopefully I
continue to stay healthy. I'm here as a Miami Heat player, and I'm happy where
I am now, but I don't rule that out in no sense…And if I decide to come back,
hopefully the fans will accept me."
LeBron just wants to be loved. He realizes the
Cavaliers fans, who once genuflected every time their messiah touched the ball,
feel duped, used and abused. And let’s not
forget, LeBron James was not just some player plucked from the draft and imported
to the playoff starved outpost of Cleveland. The kid grew up in Akron, less than 40 miles from Cleveland and he
didn’t have to immerse himself in the culture, he was part of it! It may be one thing to walk away from a team
at the end of your contract but LeBron, in the minds of Cavs fans everywhere,
was turning his back on his own community, the very roots of his foundation.
twenty something LeBron knew his departure would not sit well with the fans of
Cleveland but the bright lights and salsa music of Miami were calling. It was also an opportunity to play general
manager and build a championship team by aligning with two of the most feared
players in the game in Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. The Cleveland fans would eventually
understand and though his status as a national treasure would be tarnished it
would not be ruined in his hometown. Think again son.
retrospect, I find it difficult to believe LeBron would have made his decision
to leave Cleveland a primetime event if he were to do it all over again. It was brash, cocky and even
arrogant…precisely the same qualities that have propelled him to such lofty
heights. No, the experience has left
LeBron with some unanticipated scars. His trot from the locker room at the Quicken Loans Arena on to the
hardcourt used to elicit a chorus of cheers and unbridled hero worship from the
masses who flocked to see their king.
But now when
he returns it is not as a conquering hero but as a traitorous member of the visiting
team. The choir of angels singing his
praises from the rafters has turned into a cacophony of jeers, boos and
outright disappointment. And it’s the
latter that plagues LeBron more than anything else, disappointment. He can deal with being a villain. He plays that role no matter where he goes
because his God given ability renders even the most confident and strident
opposition a bit envious. Everyone wants
to see King James fall on his royal scepter, it goes with the territory. But disappointment is a different emotion
entirely. He let an entire community
down. His community. Last week’s comment about him someday
returning to Cleveland was just his way of trying to repair the damage that has
already been done.
adores the flash and sizzle of Miami but he wistfully recalls the days when he
was the only game in a small town. In
Cleveland he was the messiah but now in Miami, he is simply part of a
phenomenally talented trinity. American
novelist Thomas Wolfe once wrote, “You can’t go home again.” LeBron James may have just found that out.
LeBron versus Kobe
will never be able to truly compare both athletes in their prime. LeBron is now 27 years old and reaching the
peak of his vast potential while Kobe Bryant is still a force to be reckoned
with at 33 but athletes don’t get better entering their mid-thirties. Nevertheless, Kobe Bryant is still a silky
smooth assassin who can drain the rock from anywhere on the court despite being
blanketed like a newborn on a chilly January morning. While it’s true Kobe may take more shots than
your local NRA chapter, he’s a natural born killer when he gets in a
the other hand is a steely, sinewy explosion of combustible locomotion that
often makes me wonder, where is his cape? There is no doubt he is the
Alpha male in a land of Alpha males. But
for all his unparalleled athleticism and all the hardware on his mantle, he is
without the one adornment that separates Kobe from all the rest…championship
rings. Kobe’s got them and LeBron doesn’t.
week Boston Celtics legend Larry Bird was asked about the preeminent player in
the NBA and he declared that LeBron’s foot fit that glass slipper. But just as the Fourth Estate nodded their
heads and put their pens to paper, someone asked Bird whom he would most like
to play with and a mildly surprising answer was given.
"Well, probably Kobe, because of the fact that ...
well, of course he wouldn't have been shooting as much as he does now ... but
his desire to win, his dedication, to always get better, uh, and he's just,
he's just tough," Bird said. "He's just a tough cat.
"But, if you want to have fun, like I did with Bill
Walton, play with LeBron. It would have probably been more fun to play with
LeBron, but if you want to win and win and win, it's Kobe. Not that LeBron's
not a winner, just that [Kobe's] mindset is to go into every practice, every
game, to get better."
Larry’s mind, the game has always been about winning. There is no doubt that Kobe Bryant has proven
that he is, above all else, a winner. He’s got five championship rings to prove it. LeBron is amassing all the individual awards
that are already displayed on Kobe’s mantle but the most important piece of
jewelry has eluded him.
Until such time when he stands at center court,
holding the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy aloft, he will be relegated to
second class status in the pantheon of NBA legends. Imagine if Jim Kelly had won four Super Bowls
in the 90’s with Buffalo instead of losing all of them. He would forever be mentioned in the same
rarified air as Montana, Unitas, Bradshaw and all the other great quarterbacks
with multiple rings on their fingers. But alas, without a ring to his name, Jim Kelly will forevermore be an
also-ran. Will LeBron suffer the same
fate? Only time will tell.