Monthly Archives: July 2012

The Evolving Legacy of LeBron

lebron

First let me preface this by saying that LeBron James is my favorite athlete ever. He wasn’t always but over the last handful of years that’s where this fan relationship has gone to, even making me a self admitted ‘stan’. However, I think by religiously following his career since he was 16 has put me in a position to at least attempt to reflect on it. Anyway, I thought I’d share…

After the 2011 Finals, I had this to say about LeBron:

i. The Basketball Player

Most ready and productive HS to NBA player out of the gate in history. Top 2 athletic force of nature I’ve seen since ’93 next to Shaq (for this — that’s how far I’ll go back with my own two eyes and living in that moment, not DVD’s or ESPN Classic, can watch old game tapes all day but if you didn’t experience THAT Time, you miss something.). Best open court player I’ve seen. Best skip passer I’ve ever seen. Best passing player 6’8 over I’ve seen. (again since ’93 and this might the most advantageous thing he has at 6’8 260, not just running people over. Think of the flick of the wrist pass to Chalmers cross-court late in Game 2, nobody else makes that as effortlessly.). The flaws: Shooting, post-game, facilitator or scorer? and early on questions about defense. Defense was corrected early, some credit to coaching staffs he was under and also accepting that responsibility. When locked in on that end, he also turns into one of the top 2-3 help defenders as a wing player in the ‘rover’ role that I’ve seen next to Pippen.

Shooting flaw is still there. and it’s odd. The mechanics of it come and go. He is a streaky shooter, but it’s in the mechanics. The backside stays level and upright he probably hits at a 37-38% clip from 3. The legs start to go out, the fade away comes and it probably drops to the 29-30% range, you split the difference and it’s right at the 33% mark he’s been at. It will be interesting as time goes on, does losing some of his athleticism make it easier to stay centered and in good form as he is confined or does it do the opposite and create more reliance on ‘arm shooting’ with the rest of the body going different directions?

The post game. Flawed, but exists. Does he have a go to move? No. Does a double team get sent at him almost every damn time? Yes. People need to stop with the he ‘doesn’t have a post game’ and reconfigure that statement to ‘doesn’t have post moves’. It’s the part of being 6’8 260 that gives him one by default. He turns his left shoulder on the block against a small forward and he’s right at the rim for a layup. My biggest issue with the lack of one is just simply because he doesn’t do it enough. I loved Spoelstra working him off cross-screens this finals, why that didn’t or doesn’t happen more, I don’t know..but I hope it does into the future. He passes as well out of those double teams as anyone. JVG brought up the point one night, why double? Make him make a move to beat you. The moves may not be there, but if a guy is getting doubled consistently and creating good offense, something exists. It’s just not done enough.

Facilitator or scorer? I still don’t know. Sometimes you get the best of both worlds, and that’s him at his best. Other times he sits back too much. Kobe used and still does do the same ‘feeling things out’ but at his core everyone knew he was a scorer and at some point in the course of the game you’re going to get it. At times, it just never comes for LeBron and he’ll just go the other route all the way through (Game 4). But I’ll say this, When Mo Williams went down last year in January/February and LeBron moved to PG and the Cavs went 11-0 with wins over LA (2x) Orlando, OKC..during that stretch he went with 31, 7 and 10 . For me, it was the pinnacle for LeBron as a regular season player. When a team has had to have been so overly reliant on him, we’ve got to see the best he has to offer in multiple facets of the game. The issue with this is….when you hit a certain point and against the best competition, it’s like running into a brick wall. It’s why he had to join another star (or 2). Jordan had experienced this, Kobe did as well. They got their stars, LeBron sought them out. It’s a touchy subject. But, Now, playing next to Wade this is his biggest question mark..it trumps the jump shot. How does he achieve greatness at the highest level– while still appeasing the masses statistically– when playing next to someone like Wade? A jack of all trades faces an issue when you need to simplify..what is he at his core? Probably both a facilitator and scorer. The criticism about not having spots on the floor where he knows he’s comfortable and can go make a play are fair. I think some are on the way (right block, turning over right shoulder and taking that FT line jumper being one & using the cross-screens) it may just take Spoelstra or Riley insisting on these spots for him.

The post-season. Some immense highs and lows. One thing that was interesting looking back is that we were 3 minutes away from getting a LeBron/Wade showdown in the ECF’s in 2006. Would have added another layer in their storyline/relationship. Instead Cavs can’t close Game 6 and drop Game 7. But back to the point… Game 5 in Detroit, then Game 5 in Boston. 45 on the road against Pierce in G7 in 08 then 9 turnovers and Knicks chants in G6 in ’10. Maybe the epitome of it all so far is the performances against Chicago and Boston this year followed up by the Finals performance. Clutch or not clutch? Again, there have been a good amount of examples both ways. Maybe what we all are looking for in him is just consistency for better or worse? Defining his legacy would become easier, we just don’t have a solid answer yet.

ii. The Decision.

A) The cop-out. I said the night it happened, he can’t be Jordan (I never thought he could anyway, but this sealed it). There was and still a sense of him limiting his own ceiling. The only way that goes away is if he plays every ECF and Finals to the level he was against Boston & Chicago. It’s still the fact that it is Miami and that is Wade’s city. If he gets Wade to follow him to Cleveland or team up in NY, does the same feeling of Pippen/Robin exist? Likely to an extent from some but not like this..which leads to..

B) The Double-Standard. And this is more geared towards Wade. The man who won 4 playoff games in 4 years and people were then ready to anoint with 2 more wins this week. Wade plays like crap against the best regular season win team and LeBron plays great — Heat win in 5. LeBron plays like crap, Wade plays great vs Dallas– Heat lose in 6. Wade is in a great situation. All credit/no blame position. But the bottom line, LeBron has to be good to great for Miami to win it all. He is the better player, in the Finals, He was not. ‘Robin’ will not win champions for the Heat. And he has to have those great performances to validate a title in a lot of people’s minds. Fair or unfair.

C) The aftermath. A year removed, year one is in the books. Nothing but a championship every year is a huge failure given the situation he and Wade/Bosh decided on. Where it goes from here? Anyone’s guess. I don’t believe the limit on his greatness or legacy is as severe as we thought last July. Things are decided on the court and everything was being erased in those 2 Eastern series and then it got derailed quickly. His legacy can be enhanced or damaged either way. Being on Miami just crossed off the GOAT discussion with LeBron. Which leads me to..

iii. Social Media and the News cycle.

This is not exclusive to LeBron, but it does play into his legacy. As much as any athlete to date. I genuinely feel sorry for the next transcendent NBA player who even has a hint of arrogance. You have to have the contrived answers that Durant and Rose offer now. Have to. We enjoy arrogance, but not until you win. Kobe has said some off the wall +%%* to reporters the past year or two, but it’s humorous and almost looked at in a playful manner at this point. That’s just Kobe now. The competitor, not the jerk. Because he won. Could you imagine the stuff that he and Iverson got into 7-8 years ago coming to light now with twitter and how instant info and access is available? Heck, we were one dumb reporter away from that Rashard Lewis stuff actually becoming a story (July 17th, 2012: Rashard is actually his teammate now, so..well..) But, basically..here is a guy who grew up bouncing around homes in a single parent home with a part-time mother who emerged in the spot light at 16 and not once has encountered off court trouble. And this is who we turn into a villain? Arrogance, lack of humility, poor choices of words will be damning to any athlete from here on out. It has happened to LeBron and I’m not sure how he salvages his image. Can’t turn into the guy who says all the right things, can’t ride the fence and can’t go all out dark side. There really is only one way — to win. But for anyone to reach or obtain GOAT status they are going to have to be so far removed from this current era it’s crazy to think about. You still have huge MJ fans, you have huge Kobe fans..you have past players/coaches who speak on things to either prop up or tear down. It’d have to take another 50 years before all those people wash away before we can put another player on that pedestal. But at that point, who knows how the media handles a player like that?

And Do not get me wrong, he is responsible here for the heights it can and has reached. Stay off twitter. Nobody should know the names of the people in your entourage. They’re your entourage. We shouldn’t know your mom on a first name basis. It’s not his fault entirely, but at some point you just have to say…look here is a check every month..let me handle my business with people who are actually educated and trained in these areas…and I’ll see you in July.

iv. He’s still 26.

So, I can’t make anywhere near a final conclusion on what he is. I would say he is probably already on the back-end of the Top 20 players of all time. But the clock is ticking and the hour-glass got flipped upside down when they hit the floor this year. This was, to me, the first team he was on that was capable of winning a championship and he and his team failed. No way around it. There is (plenty of) time left, he and his teammates will need health..and maybe they get Pat Riley? But he has to win, you at least have to knock down that barrier before we start talking about Finals MVP’s and who is what on a team. That stuff becomes secondary and subjective, the titles are there forever. There are still areas of his game to work on but probably as much as anything there is some soul-searching to do this summer, even more than last. Last year it was figuring out what was the best situation (debatable choice legacy wise, likely the correct choice basketball wise) Now, He has to figure: What works, when it works and when it’s needed. The all time greats a) recognize it. b) execute it.

From 2008-2010 as a Cav we saw his absolute peak as an individual both athletically and as a basketball player and that greatness got him 2 MVP’s. The team greatness? That’s still in front of him to go after.

A year passed, and I’m now fortunate to write a follow up:

First I’ll go with what I wrote last year:

Most ready and productive HS to NBA player out of the gate in history. Top 2 athletic force of nature I’ve seen since ’93 next to Shaq (for this — that’s how far I’ll go back with my own two eyes and living in that moment, not DVD’s or ESPN Classic, can watch old game tapes all day but if you didn’t experience THAT Time, you miss something.). Best open court player I’ve seen. Best skip passer I’ve ever seen. Best passing player 6’8 over I’ve seen. (again since ’93 and this might the most advantageous thing he has at 6’8 260, not just running people over. Think of the flick of the wrist pass to Chalmers cross-court late in Game 2, nobody else makes that as effortlessly.). The flaws: Shooting, post-game, facilitator or scorer? and early on questions about defense. Defense was corrected early, some credit to coaching staffs he was under and also accepting that responsibility. When locked in on that end, he also turns into one of the top 2-3 help defenders as a wing player in the ‘rover’ role that I’ve seen next to Pippen.

This year:

The prodigy stuff obviously remains forever. Still the best passer over 6’8 I’ve seen. Still the best open-court player I’ve ever seen (I mean, !*++..we all watch them play -how times have the Heat not converted/got fouled on the break since LeBron joined? It’s not many)

Now, onto more important topics. First, the post-game.

Last year: The post game. Flawed, but exists. Does he have a go to move? No. Does a double team get sent at him almost every damn time? Yes. People need to stop with the he ‘doesn’t have a post game’ and reconfigure that statement to ‘doesn’t have post moves’. It’s the part of being 6’8 260 that gives him one by default. He turns his left shoulder on the block against a small forward and he’s right at the rim for a layup. My biggest issue with the lack of one is just simply because he doesn’t do it enough. I loved Spoelstra working him off cross-screens this finals, why that didn’t or doesn’t happen more, I don’t know..but I hope it does into the future. He passes as well out of those double teams as anyone. JVG brought up the point one night, why double? Make him make a move to beat you. The moves may not be there, but if a guy is getting doubled consistently and creating good offense, something exists. It’s just not done enough.

This year: It was obvious on Christmas Day he was trying to enter the season with a new focus – not new moves, a new focus. As noted, Miami ran those cross screens to get him touches last season and last post-season, problem is it was not frequent enough. I’d put most of that on LeBron and some on Spoelstra. This year was different, at least when it mattered most. He torched OKC out of the post, he dominated the series when needed from the post. I don’t think anyone (including myself) thought he would dominate the 2012 NBA Finals from the post at this time last year. The best part is his new-found patience. His footwork is still choppy and he doesn’t possess great touch around the rim (never has, good thing for the rest of the world that god didn’t give him that, too.). Last year and prior years he was still effective in the post when he went down there because he commanded double teams and could generate good offense for others. Now, he’s patient enough to either wait for a double team or he will go score himself. This will add years onto his career offensively. I really believe if he develops this further this summer that defending him will truly be pick your poison. Small forward’s can’t guard him on the block and it leads to doubles which opens up one of his best two assets – passing. PF’s can’t stick with him when he faces up, facing up leads to one of his best two assets – getting a head of steam and attacking the rim. One thing, though – LeBron let the post game come and go – does he get bored being down there? Was Spoelstra hiding something until it mattered most? Who knows, but it sure is nice for both to know that’s in their back pocket when it’s needed now.

I didn’t talk about his defense last year but how good is he? Yes, he’ll get beat on occasion guarding scorers, is there anyone who doesn’t? Let me say – If this entire post comes across as me being a fanboy, sorry but at least this season he did everything anyone could ask of him.. I can’t find very many examples where LeBron is out of position on defense or not giving full effort. It is just rare and his ability to switch between 1 and 4’s seamlessly during games or even possessions is why Miami can play so small and still dominate defensively compared to the rest of the league. I feel like if LeBron has 3-4 more peak athletic years that we’re going to have re-evaluate where he stands amongst the all-time greats because of his defense. As Bill Simmons put it, watching him in the Finals was like watching a rich-man’s Larry Bird. Why? because he’s all world defense. He went heads up with Melo, Pierce and KD this spring/summer and he at the very least made them work, if not struggle, while mostly not needing help defenders.

Shooting, Last year: Shooting flaw is still there. and it’s odd. The mechanics of it come and go. He is a streaky shooter, but it’s in the mechanics. The backside stays level and upright he probably hits at a 37-38% clip from 3. The legs start to go out, the fade away comes and it probably drops to the 29-30% range, you split the difference and it’s right at the 33% mark he’s been at. It will be interesting as time goes on, does losing some of his athleticism make it easier to stay centered and in good form as he is confined or does it do the opposite and create more reliance on ‘arm shooting’ with the rest of the body going different directions?

This year: The post game certainly lessens the importance here. Still streaky and that might just be how it’s going to go. At least from the 3 point line. Now, if he could ever work on hitting a consistent 15 foot jumper there really is no way to guard him. Short of resting my legs if I’m LeBron – my priorities are to continue to improve the post game and secondly – 14-18 foot jump shot. I do still think it can be interesting if a loss of explosion results in a more condensed and consistent form as time goes on.

Last year, facilitator or scorer: Facilitator or scorer? I still don’t know. Sometimes you get the best of both worlds, and that’s him at his best. Other times he sits back too much. Kobe used and still does do the same ‘feeling things out’ but at his core everyone knew he was a scorer and at some point in the course of the game you’re going to get it. At times, it just never comes for LeBron and he’ll just go the other route all the way through (Game 4). But I’ll say this, When Mo Williams went down last year in January/February and LeBron moved to PG and the Cavs went 11-0 with wins over LA (2x) Orlando, OKC..during that stretch he went with 31, 7 and 10 . For me, it was the pinnacle for LeBron as a regular season player. When a team has had to have been so overly reliant on him, we’ve got to see the best he has to offer in multiple facets of the game. The issue with this is….when you hit a certain point and against the best competition, it’s like running into a brick wall. It’s why he had to join another star (or 2). Jordan had experienced this, Kobe did as well. They got their stars, LeBron sought them out. It’s a touchy subject. But, Now, playing next to Wade this is his biggest question mark..it trumps the jump shot. How does he achieve greatness at the highest level– while still appeasing the masses statistically– when playing next to someone like Wade? A jack of all trades faces an issue when you need to simplify..what is he at his core? Probably both a facilitator and scorer. The criticism about not having spots on the floor where he knows he’s comfortable and can go make a play are fair. I think some are on the way (right block, turning over right shoulder and taking that FT line jumper being one & using the cross-screens) it may just take Spoelstra or Riley insisting on these spots for him.

This year: Did he walk this tightrope beautifully or not in the playoffs? You could pencil him in for 25+ this post-season and still know he would facilitate if that’s what things dictated. What we did see when Bosh went out was a shift to essentially playing PF on offense. His assists numbers this year did drop and in the post-season as well. To me, a couple reasons; he adjusted to being a screener with Wade pick and rolls and playing more on the block. I’d actually say he shaded himself to more of a scorer than passer and it benefited Miami since, well, he’s just the best option. The 25 points plus in X amount of games was the streak that got attention – the one that didn’t: Since the start of the Indiana series he never took less than 19 shots in a game. That was equally important. The Heat were overly reliant this year on LeBron, I feel like Spoelstra would be the first to admit as such. However, when he absolutely needed it (okay maybe not Boston G6, more on that later) he did get major contributions from a supporting cast – to Wade to Bosh to Miller to Battier. That was the difference between playing in Miami and playing in Cleveland. In Cleveland he’d never have someone join up with him in G4 on the road in Indiana like Wade did. You want to win championships, that’s needed. I don’t care who you are. It just is. In the end, I think he did answer this question and it’s the best thing for his career: He is a scorer, he is a passer. He will make the play he feels is the right one. Maybe it was always this way, it just took winning to stop the questioning of it.

The post-season, last year: Some immense highs and lows. One thing that was interesting looking back is that we were 3 minutes away from getting a LeBron/Wade showdown in the ECF’s in 2006. Would have added another layer in their storyline/relationship. Instead Cavs can’t close Game 6 and drop Game 7. But back to the point… Game 5 in Detroit, then Game 5 in Boston. 45 on the road against Pierce in G7 in 08 then 9 turnovers and Knicks chants in G6 in ’10. Maybe the epitome of it all so far is the performances against Chicago and Boston this year followed up by the Finals performance. Clutch or not clutch? Again, there have been a good amount of examples both ways. Maybe what we all are looking for in him is just consistency for better or worse? Defining his legacy would become easier, we just don’t have a solid answer yet.

This year: Well, we got the consistency from Game 1 vs New York to Game 5 vs OKC. We can say LeBron’s more of a very good to great playoff performer than a bad one now, right? (the numbers and W’s/L’s now say yes) We know the lows: G5 at home in ’10. The 2011 Finals are the two biggest sore spots and can’t be erased. But damn it if he didn’t do his best to try to overshadow them with great performances. He ended an era of Boston Celtic basketball, flat out. Game 6, ready to advance behind that crowd. Bosh is rusty, Wade is more off than on, KG looks 5 years younger and Rondo is dominating. Only one man stood in the way. And stood he did. Like a brick wall. This may have been the start of something. At some point this playoffs it felt like LeBron got in some game situations and it felt like he was not going to lose, didn’t it? I’m not saying it never felt like Miami wasn’t going to lose. But on some nights, LeBron was not. It was, “Get on my back, I got this – we’re fine.” stretch of basketball he put together and somewhere in G3 against OKC to me it was over. He wasn’t losing, and there was nothing to be done about it. Was he really a different guy with a different mind-set? Who knows. Only he does. All I know is I felt he hit a new point in his career. ( (By the way it’s July 17th now and last night I watched this type of deal in an exhibition vs Brazil. Yes, vs Brazil..but still – he’s at a point now where you know he’s not losing a game).

This is a new inclusion to this write up this year:

The man is a physical freak. I honest to god believe that Miami asked as much of him this season as any Cav team did in his 7 years in Cleveland. It just doesn’t appear that way because Cleveland lost and Miami won. But, the minutes, the defensive assignments – and the fact he was in the midst of a I-better-$@%*@$$-win-at-all-costs-season. He never stopped, he kept coming and coming. If Boston was 5 years younger, Miami doesn’t win that series. But they aren’t and LeBron could stay on the court and take advantage of their 2nd unit (really, he had to). Going back to the job he does on defense – he does while most nights taking on the best perimeter player while operating the Heat offense on the other side of the ball. It’s a lot to ask. Is he going to run out sooner than expected? A shortened season with a late finish now plus Olympics? The guy is going to be playing into late May/likely June for a while now. Is he human? Guess we’ll find out in 4-5 years.

Last year:

ii. The Decision.

A) The cop-out. I said the night it happened, he can’t be Jordan (I never thought he could anyway, but this sealed it). There was and still a sense of him limiting his own ceiling. The only way that goes away is if he plays every ECF and Finals to the level he was against Boston & Chicago. It’s still the fact that it is Miami and that is Wade’s city. If he gets Wade to follow him to Cleveland or team up in NY, does the same feeling of Pippen/Robin exist? Likely to an extent from some but not like this..which leads to..

B) The Double-Standard. And this is more geared towards Wade. The man who won 4 playoff games in 4 years and people were then ready to anoint with 2 more wins this week. Wade plays like crap against the best regular season win team and LeBron plays great — Heat win in 5. LeBron plays like crap, Wade plays great vs Dallas– Heat lose in 6. Wade is in a great situation. All credit/no blame position. But the bottom line, LeBron has to be good to great for Miami to win it all. He is the better player, in the Finals, He was not. ‘Robin’ will not win champions for the Heat. And he has to have those great performances to validate a title in a lot of people’s minds. Fair or unfair.

C) The aftermath. A year removed, year one is in the books. Nothing but a championship every year is a huge failure given the situation he and Wade/Bosh decided on. Where it goes from here? Anyone’s guess. I don’t believe the limit on his greatness or legacy is as severe as we thought last July. Things are decided on the court and everything was being erased in those 2 Eastern series and then it got derailed quickly. His legacy can be enhanced or damaged either way. Being on Miami just crossed off the GOAT discussion with LeBron.

This year:

A) It’s still an eyesore for LeBron’s career. Always will be. Did he really limit his ceiling? I guess the answer would still be yes, but how much? He was the most dominant player on a NBA title team, I mean there was no question left about whose team that was. He did play that elite level to remove all doubt. I think this changed maybe significantly this year and another year of the same won’t make the Decision an after thought, but it won’t be the first thing you think of when you think of LeBron, will it?

B) Still true.

C) I still think so on both accounts. Titles or bust and the on the court stuff will always prevail. I just don’t think that cap on his ‘legacy’ is screwed on as tight as the reaction to “….to South Beach.” led us all to think.

Can he be the GOAT? No, I don’t think so. I’ve looked at the numbers, I’ve watched the games – Michael Jordan was unreal. LeBron needed an earlier start on the winning to make a legit case for it, I think. I will say this, I believe the media and access to information is resulting in more knowledgeable people with a platform that side more with the thinking of Mark Cuban than Skip Bayless (substance matters, being a fake shrink does not).

Leading to this:

Social Media: Last year.
This is not exclusive to LeBron, but it does play into his legacy. As much as any athlete to date. I genuinely feel sorry for the next transcendent NBA player who even has a hint of arrogance. You have to have the contrived answers that Durant and Rose offer now. Have to. We enjoy arrogance, but not until you win. Kobe has said some off the wall +%%* to reporters the past year or two, but it’s humorous and almost looked at in a playful manner at this point. That’s just Kobe now. The competitor, not the jerk. Because he won. Could you imagine the stuff that he and Iverson got into 7-8 years ago coming to light now with twitter and how instant info and access is available? Heck, we were one dumb reporter away from that Rasard Lewis stuff actually becoming a story. But, basically..here is a guy who grew up bouncing around homes in a single parent home with a part-time mother who emerged in the spot light at 16 and not once has encountered off court trouble. And this is who we turn into a villain? Arrogance, lack of humility, poor choices of words will be damning to any athlete from here on out. It has happened to LeBron and I’m not sure how he salvages his image. Can’t turn into the guy who says all the right things, can’t ride the fence and can’t go all out dark side. There really is only one way — to win. But for anyone to reach or obtain GOAT status they are going to have to be so far removed from this current era it’s crazy to think about. You still have huge MJ fans, you have huge Kobe fans..you have past players/coaches who speak on things to either prop up or tear down. It’d have to take another 50 years before all those people wash away before we can put another player on that pedestal. But at that point, who knows how the media handles a player like that?

And Do not get me wrong, he is responsible here for the heights it can and has reached. Stay off twitter. Nobody should know the names of the people in your entourage. They’re your entourage. We shouldn’t know your mom on a first name basis. It’s not his fault entirely, but at some point you just have to say…look here is a check every month..let me handle my business with people who are actually educated and trained in these areas…and I’ll see you in July.

This year: LeBron still has an image to repair. He could not be a defiant douche this week after winning – or at any point this year. I think he carried himself with a good amount of humility (given where he was 18 months ago) and said the right things but people will still dislike him. That’s life, everyone has an opinion and now everyone has a platform to tell you what it is. But back to people with information: there are a lot of them in a lot of high places. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone on ESPN or Grantland or SI or wherever and wonder when ______ was hired or thinking ‘wow, that’s a great article.’ from someone I am familiar with. We also now have things like Synergy Sports and places like NBA Playbook. Could the pendulum of social media actually swing in LeBron’s favor as we leave the Jordan era and more and more people embrace LeBron the basketball player? The praise for his performance this year is effusive and when the shock jocks (Bayless, Rome, Doyel) are left with nothing, that’s where we are.

I think LeBron was himself this year and when he says that, I believe him. I thought his celebration was fitting. He didn’t cry nor did he tell anyone to $!#% off. He danced and he smiled. I thought it was genuine, since that’s always been who he is.

I don’t know if he shut people off this season or playoffs, we at least know we didn’t hear about mom or his friends cooking up some elaborate schemes this year. We do know that he didn’t watch TV, post on twitter, etc. He read books, watched DVD’s – whatever works. I don’t care about that but it does seems he’s at peace with where he is now and where he’s headed on and off the court.

Last year:

iv. He’s still 26.

So, I can’t make anywhere near a final conclusion on what he is. I would say he is probably already on the back end of the Top 20 players of all time. But the clock is ticking and the hour glass got flipped upside down when they hit the floor this year. This was, to me, the first team he was on that was capable of winning a championship and he and his team failed. No way around it. There is (plenty of) time left, he and his teammates will need health..and maybe they get Pat Riley? But he has to win, you at least have to knock down that barrier before we start talking about Finals MVP’s and who is what on a team. That stuff becomes secondary and subjective, the titles are there forever. There are still areas of his game to work on but probably as much as anything there is some soul-searching to do this summer, even more than last. Last year it was figuring out what was the best situation (debatable choice legacy wise, likely the correct choice basketball wise) Now, He has to figure: What works, when it works and when it’s needed. The all time greats a) recognize it. b) execute it.

From 2008-2010 as a Cav we saw his absolute peak as an individual both athletically and as a basketball player and that greatness got him 2 MVP’s. The team greatness? That’s still in front of him to go after.

This year: I think I take back that last part. I saw his absolute peak this post-season and I was glad I could witness it. He figured out what works, when it works and when it’s needed. He recognized it, he executed it. The individual greatness and team greatness finally coincided.

Lastly, sometimes when guys win the first championship it feels like they’re going to a party. First they pay their cover charge (Charles Barkely and Karl Malone are the two bitter bouncers at the door) and poke their head in to see if they recognize anyone to go talk to and hope they fit in. They hope they actually do belong. Some stick, other pass out drunk on the yard and forget to wake up (Dirk?) or get in a fight they lose (Walton). But, Magic and Larry are playing each other on the beer pong table for hours. Oscar Robertson is bad mouthing everyone else to the girls he’s talking to. MJ is in a VIP room with Kobe walking past trying to get a look out of the corner of his eye. Russell, Shaq, Kareem and Hakeem are arguing amongst each other. Wilt is..do I really have to tell you where Wilt is?

LeBron was an hour late but came barreling in, carrying a keg over his head. As if to say, ‘Sorry I was late, but the party is here.’ Personally, I hope it doesn’t end anytime soon.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 794 other followers