Monday, June 13, 2011

Thoughts on Lebron.

No matter what Lebron said after losing Game 6, it was going to be scrutinized, criticized and heavily broadcast. There was probably no one thing that he could have said that would satisfy everyone. Inevitably, someone would have taken offense to it, would have found it insincere or otherwise lacking. But what he did say seems to be to be one of the worst paths he could have taken:  “They have to wake up and have the same life that they had before they woke up today … the same personal problems,” James said. “I’m going to continue to live the way that I want to live. … But they have to get back to the real world at some point.” 

Yes. Lebron, you're right. This morning I woke up, and I'm not a multimillionaire like you. I'm not famous. I'm entering grad school next year and loan payments loom in my horizon and will continue to do so for years. But trust me- I'd rather have my mundane, "real world" problems any day, when I think about the problems he has. His problems- that he made himself such a polarizing figure that millions of people around the world waited up to see the Heat lose, to see him wither in the spotlight and fail once again- these are not real world problems. They're worse- they are attacks on his character. His comments reeked of immaturity, poor sportsmanship and, most concerning, of delusion. Lebron fancies himself a victim. He doesn't understand why people are so fixated on seeing him lose, and why we can't all move on from "The Decision." He thinks he's a victim because he's misunderstood and unfairly attacked. I think he's a victim, but for other reasons. This is a man who has been told he's king of the world since freshman year of high school. The super stardom, the millions of dollars and the adoring fans, have cemented this title in his mind. This is not a normal psyche, and it is a stain of our society, that we have allowed our priorities to run so wildly awry. 

I don't expect Lebron to be perfect- and I would never want him to be. I want him to be human. He has an enormous, undeniable talent. If he could find the courage to step outside of his bubble and in to the real world that he referenced, I think he could play to his full potential. In the real world, we make mistakes... And Lebron, in his bubble of hubris, also makes mistakes, but refuses to acknowledge them. If he could find the courage to own up to his shortcomings and missteps, I think that he could overcome them and evolve. Out here in the real world, when people make mistakes, it's not the end all be all. Mistakes and transgressions are inevitable, and they allow us to learn, progress and grow, so that we don't make the same ones in the future. The mark of a mature, thoughtful person is the ability to admit you've made a mistake and set a plan in place for how to not make the same one again. Right now, Lebron is seemingly incapable of doing that, and that's a bad thing for Lebron the superstar, and a worse thing for Lebron James, the 27 year old man. He insists on playing the martyr, in perpetual denial- anything to take the blame and negative off of him, and on to those around him. His post game comments sounded like something I'd expect from one of the children I work at an after school with. 

Plenty of great players failed to win championships: Charles Barkley, John Stockton, Karl Malone, Patrick Ewing, Reggie Miller, and Dominique Wilkins, for example. It is a fact that looms over them, but it is not used as leverage against them, the way that it currently is against Lebron. When Dirk won last night, when Jason Kidd won last night, I know that I was far from alone in feeling like the victory was hard fought and well deserved. Regardless of if Lebron ever wins a title, I will probably never be a fan, but I hope that he can evolve as a basketball player to the point where I can one day say he deserved to win. 

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