He grew up surrounded by constant hype. That created a recurring echo in his mind: “the best in the world”… “the best in the world”…
Twelve NBA seasons after he can still hear it. He learned to sing along, happy to fabulate his own reality. As he tries to convince the world – but mainly himself – he is the best player of his time or even the best player ever, we have to step back and rewind his story. Understand how it all began.
This is the story about a player who became so self-centered and oblivious to reality that he fails to understand the basic premise on the “Best of” Title. This is the definitive article regarding Lebron James impact in the NBA. Let´s start from the beginning:
CHAPTER 1: “The chosen one”
Please listen carefully to this video of Lebron James when he was only 16 years old. The Grandiose plans for his life and career were already in motion:
Is it bad for a kid if he wants to make it big? If he wants to be the best? Of course not. However, he should know that is probably an utopia. In reality, players can achieve milestones, break records or become one of the best of their era but to aim for the Greatest of all time or even the Greatest of a generation is something far more daunting. One should level those expectations. Not all can be Jordan, Russel, Kareem, Wilt, Magic, Kobe, Duncan.
In the last few days, Stephen Curry said he is still far from being considered the best outside shooter ever:
Anthony Davis stated he knows it is a long road but he wants to try to be one of the Greatest players ever. “When people talk about the greatest ever, I want to be in that conversation. I´m nowhere close to it… But it´s where I want to go”, he says in the new NBA 2K16 video.
Awareness and determination showed by these two classy young superstars. Gloating on their accomplishments so far? Of course not. The road to NBA immortality is made of constant effort and a balance between extreme confidence and staying humble. In Lbj case, humble was a word that got excluded from his lexicon since early days. And so his story(ies) began.
CHAPTER 2: The Cleveland years
Like many before him (Grant Hill, Kobe Bryant, etc) Lebron James entrance in the NBA was charged with a lot of buzz. Hailed as “the chosen one”, Lebron James managed to correspond the expectations from an individual statistic standpoint. The NBA Scholar, like everyone else, was curious to assess this “prodigy kid”. First thing perceivable: his horrible outside shot. Second: his absence of classy, skillful moves a la Jordan, Magic, Bird, Isiah ot Dr. J, to quote just a few.
Lbj and all his shenanigans were funny, especially in the playoffs but as far as the next outstanding player, the NBA Scholar had to laugh. A very physically gifted player for sure but hardly a monument for amazing basketball skills. Lbj became an afterthought to the NBA Scholar, who revere mainly excellence and merit. Vain words backed up by disappointing performances in crunch times – that was Mr. James early years calling card.
Through the years he managed to collect many individual accolades but could never go beyond the line that separates good players from great players: Championships. Seven years went by with only one presence in the NBA Finals, where he and his team where “dispatched” swiftly by the San Antonio Spurs no-nonsense basketball machine. In short: seven seasons, a lot of individual and Cavs accolades, one participation in the NBA Finals, zero rings.
CHAPTER 3: The infamous “I´m going to take my talents to South Beach”
Lebron James always expressed his love for Ohio. When he realized he could not win in Cleveland he ditched his team for a pursuit of championships in Miami. NBA personalities saw in this act a proof he wanted to win easily by pairing up with two other primetime superstars (Wade and Bosh). Many pundits made harsh critics regarding this action. Where was his “love” for Ohio? Could it be found in Dan Gilbert´s letter?
It became obvious to public´s perception Lebron James was obsessed with winning titles the easiest way possible. By evading Cleveland and joining forces with Wade and Bosh in Miami, Lbj knew it would be very difficult to lose a “season ticket” for the NBA Finals. Let´s not forget how easy the Eastern Conference has been these last few years.
CHAPTER 4: The shameful mocking of Dirk Nowitzki at the Finals before losing at home!
Call it bad luck, call it karma… “we reap what we sow”. The masterplan was going exactly according to the guidelines. Move to a super team with an awesome roster in a weak conference and you can win easily. Sounds good, right? Except for the fact the Mavericks had different ideas. Whenever Lebron James is ahead he goes back to his private playground. That´s the place he feels comfortable to express the vision embedded in his mind from a young age. Please check this video, where Lebron and D. Wade are making fun of Dirk:
The NBA Scholar found the description below the video particularly interesting, check it out in case you didn´t see it:
“Prior to their loss to the Mavs Thursday, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James were making jokes about being sick.
That was apparently a dig at Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki, who had a sinus infection and fever during Game 4.
Ironically….or maybe it was karma….Wade hurt his hip during Game 5.
James, meanwhile, gave a poor performance statistically.”
The Lbj effect isn´t restricted to himself, it “grows” on his colleagues, making them less classy. Here is a very good quote from Sam DuBois, who says in his post:
You reap what you sow. Gloating before winning was simultaneously dumb and uncalled for. Updated NBA Finals after yet another shameful act: 0-2.
CHAPTER 5: The stare at the GOAT
In 2014 yet another story surfaced the NBA involving Lbj and his recurrent Delusions of Grandeur. When he played against Michael Jordan´s owned Charlotte Hornets he had a foolish stare at MJ while he was dunking as if he wanted to prove through that dunk (that vicory in the series?) he had to be in the discussion of the Greatest ever. At this point two worlds were probably colliding in his head: the image he painted of himself – at his private mental playground – and the actual reality. In his mind he was the best. In reality he had yet to win a single title. A “bit” different. The NBA Scholar would love to know what Jordan thought on that moment. It was probably beyond hilarious…
CHAPTER 6: The TFS (Team First Spurs) rules
A contrast of styles. Spurs showcase Team First basketball, Heat tried to win through the actions of their amazing trio. The result was a clear Spurs victory after a year where the basketball gods decided to bless Ray Allen with a lost ball on those electrifying finals seconds of Game 6. Tim Duncan is as reserved as they come. Even his last celebration was low key, emotional and caring about his loved ones when the Spurs won. He knows what it takes to win Titles consistently. That´s why his “NBA Business Card” shows a NBA Finals record of 5-1. On the other hand, Mr. James displayed a 2-3 on his. Kind of different. Hardly Greatest Ever or Greatest of his generation material. At this point, even the most casual NBA fan was thinking if Mr. James was going to be struck by a clarity moment and finally understand he is nothing but an above average player. Probably the most physically gifted player ever at his position, a great scavenger of individual stats but terribly flawed from a leadership and sportsmanship standpoint. With an ego as delusional as the wildest Willy Wonka chocolate wonders. There is no sugar coding in NBA History, Mr. James. It was time to get real, right?
CHAPTER 7: The disrespectful “We ran out of talent” moment
2015 NBA Finals were a joyride. It started with a lot of expectations from both sides but soon Cavs acted as if they had no chance after Kyrie Irving went down. Curiously Lbj & Co. found a way to win and had a chance to be 3-1 in the Series. That decisive game 4. At home. Again, that palpable difference between imagination and reality. Cleveland had a real chance to win. In NBA Scholar´s view, Warriors relaxed too much after Irving went down. The perception had changed, they thought it would be easy. As it played out, Lebron and the Cavs were in position to take a crucial 3-1 lead, an unsurmountable advantage. What happened in that vital fourth game? Lbj and his Cavs eclipsed.
What happened next? He pulls a Peter Pan_ish quote from the Lebron in Wonderland book: “I’m The Best Player In The World”, he said. Makes you wonder about his perception of self. Check the video below:
For those who appreciate a good laugh it is highly recommendable watching the next video, Klay Thompson showing his appreciation for “the best player in the world”… Priceless moment:
CHAPTER 8: Clutch? Who, me?
Funny stories aside, Lbj failed to deliver when it mattered most, as always. In this Finals, his stats in the last 3 minutes of 4th quarter and overtime are self-explanatory:
As the NBA Scholar watched the final news conference he was waiting for someone to ask Mr. James: “how can the best player in the world lose? Again? Showing a 2-4 NBA Finals record”. At the end of the day, it´s all about asking the right questions.
CHAPTER 9: Simple math
It is not advanced mathematics. It is not complex coding. It is not rocket science. It’s two numbers: 2 and 4. One represents the number of wins. The other represents the number of losses. 4 is the number of times Lebron James lost. Not the other way around.
Even if Lbj manages to win one or two more titles, his “dominance” is already compromised. The true Greats who were his contemporaries (Duncan and Kobe) present a 5-1 and 5-2 record at the Finals. Different numbers. If only someone could tell him: “what are you saying? The best? Show me the rings! Show me the rings!” a la Jerry Maguire style! Speaking of numbers, if we consider Lbj had a more extensive usage when compared to the likes of Jordan, Kobe, Bird and Magic, it is fair to expect a less durable career at the top of his physical force:
CHAPTER 10: LBJ – you may quote him on that
If someone has any doubts regarding the way Lbj perceives himself, just have a look at some of his quotes along the years. How delusional can you be? Superhero type? 🙂
What if… ?
What if… what if all of these antics mean absolutely nothing to Lbj? What if he is only making fun of it all and he doesn´t really care about being considered a great player, the best of his time or the best ever? How crazy would that be? Nah, that doesn´t make any sense. Why bother and get angry like he does? Unless… (hmm, interesting thought) he is the next Pacino? Hoo-ah! Could this be all an act from Mr. James? Could his NBA career be merely a stepping stone to a more rewarding acting career? Wouldn´t that be grandiose? Tic tac, tic tac, the plot thickens. Let´s see what the future holds.
As a final note, the NBA Scholar wants to express his disdain for the common “titles” given to people who say good thing about Lbj (Lbj fan club) and the others who criticize him (Lbj haters). This rationale is illogical. People should know how to see beyond the “sold truths”. Read, debate and construct your OWN opinion.
Therefore, NBA Scholar opinion about the most polarizing NBA player in the last few years derives from the feeling mainstream media has been too soft when analysing Mr. James erratic behaviour. His actions and shameful acts during his career made him amusing (at best) and asinine (at worse). There is something called humility. It helps separating facts from fiction:
Fiction: Lbj is the best player of his time.
Facts: a career full of shameful and regrettable moments with a 2-4 NBA Finals to show for.