I am a witness –to LeBron’s transformation from an adolescent asshole to a thoughtful adult, from a gifted athlete with no deep understanding of the game to the best basketball player in the world.
Around 2006, 2007, 2008, I was tired of having the same conversation over and over, especially with adolescents: to the question “Who is better, LeBron or Kobe?” without fail people would say LeBron. No, no, no. It was painful to watch LeBron on that Cavaliers team –especially the Finals against the Spurs, 2007. A player without high basketball IQ. His plays in the final seconds of several of those games were telling: driving into the lane with no place to go –no understanding of spacing–, horrible shot selection. Even a couple of times he traveled: he… traveled. Steps!
Not many people commented on that, but the advertising campaign put together for those Finals was one of the most outrageous cases of sports hubris I have ever seen: “I am a witness”; “King James”… The beauty of sports, at any level, is that it’s impossible to foresee the final outcome of any event. So, the only thing we saw was a young player harshly put into place by a far more experienced, better coached, superior basketball team. As for “The King”… it would have been wise to just label him “The Prince” at that point: a candidate for succession, a challenger –not more.
Then came the sad and arrogant show he put together announcing his signing with the Miami Heat. Was I a LeBron hater? You bet. For at least almost three full years. Then, the way he acted this season, how he handled defeat at the 2014 Finals (the San Antonio Spurs, again), and his final decision to go back to Cleveland… I do think we have a King now –not just that: a full Legend. That is, a man who fully excels at what he does, and with the integrity and personal values which go with such level of excellence and success.