Basketball Over Everything: Can Lebron Live?

The two following numbers are true.

Number of Lebron James’ Championships and Finals MVPs: 2

Number of times I’ve watched Lebron be presented with said trophies: 0

One year ago I could not stomach the thought of Lebron’s reign over the NBA landscape beginning.  It turns out it was so bad I did not even tune into their clinching game five over the OKC Thunder.  Lebron’s first ring and I had not watched a minute of the game or even watched a highlight.  The only image I have from the game is when Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden were gathered on the bench.  As a diehard NBA fan, how could I possibly let something as silly as The Decision and the Welcome Party keep me from watching the best player in the world win his first championship?  The short answer: It is easy to hate on him. So that’s what I did.  It’s easy to get caught up in his stardom and see the brand and not the player.

My favourite players in the NBA currently include: Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, and Tim Duncan – in that order.  Lebron should be on this list.  He’s not. I’ve never been a huge fan of Lebron, even in his Cleveland days.  There was something off when I watched him play.  He seems too big, too burly, which translates to me as clumsy, even though he is one of the best, if not best, athlete in the world.  For me, he glides the way a bullet train would; sure it’s fast but it is not as pleasing as, say, a race car.  To be honest, this is my only gripe about Lebron’s game.  I appreciate how he can shift a defense with just a look or a dribble.  I love how he has turned into a force on on defense and is the most exciting weak side or trailing block in the league.  His last two years have been nothing less than astounding: Two Championships, two Final MVPs, one gold medal, and back to back season MVPs.  Plus, he’s only twenty-eight and in the prime of his career.

This year, after Miami went on their twenty-seven game winning streak during the season, I remember thinking, “Well time to look forward to next year.”  Then the playoffs happened and every series in the second round seemed important and things never slowed down.  NBA fans were gifted with a Spurs/Heat Final.  This was the best player of the last generation playing in a Finals, fourteen years after his first, going up against the best player on the planet right now.  I am still unsure of how I did not have a heart attack during their seven game series.  I did not need Pop and Timmy D to win, but whatever degree just below “need” was where I was wedged right in.  If this had been Miami’s first final with their Big Three, I would have gone overboard in going against Miami but after they won last year, in the back of my mind I knew it was Lebron’s league and his alone and it would take everything San Antonio had to dethrone him.

The moment almost came in Game 6.  Miami was done, then they made some plays and capitalized on turnovers and a crazy sequence which ended in a Jesus Shuttlesworth game tying three.  I remember I was conflicted as the ball left his hand.  Part of me wanted it to rattle in and out and see Pop and Timmy D get number five.  Another part of me wanted it to swish through the mesh and send the game into overtime and have this great series continue another day.  I’m still waiting for Game’s 8 and 9 to be played.  Nothing beats great basketball for me.

I knew after Game 6 that Miami would repeat.  However, this year I would catch the game. After all, anything can happen in a Game 7 right?  I watched the game at the bar with some friends.  As the seconds ticked down I got out as fast as I could; I did not need to watch Lebron get another trophy.  The clock hit zero as I stepped outside.  Some of my friends texted me wondering if I was okay.  Sure it sucked that the Spurs lost and Pop and Timmy D did not get number five but what can you do?  Lebron played like he was supposed to. He had a great game through four quarters – nothing much you can do when the best player on the planet is doing his thing.  I guess after watching him slug through Indiana and San Antonio, he did not seem so big and burly anymore. He almost felt vulnerable.

I guess that is what I need from my favourite athletes, a certain vulnerability to them.  I need to see them deal with an outside force which pushes them to find something they did not know they had, an extra gear, a secret well of energy, anything to remind us what it feels like to overcome something.  At the end of Game 6 Lebron took over; I felt helpless as he did. He was a force of nature and no matter what San Antonio did, it did not matter.  I will never forget that.  It was the moment where Lebron the player finally over shadowed Lebron the person for me.  In that moment, without all the extra curricular stuff we pile onto athletes, I was able to enjoy it.  This being said, I hope Miami does not three peat.  I cannot wait for next season.

It’s Like I Have ESPN or Something – Nicole

Lebron is just not for me.

Sorry.

Irving Chong (@Irving_Chong) and Nicole (@_nicoliooo) are co-creators of This is Why we Can’t Have Nice Things even though it doesn’t make sense why they’re friends

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