What have we learned about the great Lebron James after WITNESSing his demise in the NBA conference finals this past weekend? In order to understand the magnitude of of the defeat we must first analyse it construction.
Who is Lebron James? He's known as the King. And not of burgers. 24 years old, Lebron entered the 2008-09 season as a 6th year Cleveland Cavalier. This kid stands a staggering 6'8" and carries an impressive 250 lbs of what appears to be solid steel muscle! The guy is simply a BEAST! He's the 2004 NBA Rookie of the Year, 5xAll-Star, and the 2009 MVP. He is the youngest player to be named: MVP, All-Star MVP and Rookie of the Year. Youngest player to: score 50 points in a game, score 2,000 points in a season, reach 1,000 2,000 3,000 4,000 5,000 6,000 7,000 8,000 9,000 10,000 11,000 and 12,000 career points. Compared to the Great Michael Jordan, in their first 6yrs, Jordan scored 14,016 points while King James has put up 12,993. Neither won a Championship going into their 7th year.
Coming out of college, Lebron signed a very lucrative endorsement deal with Nike and since then has marketed himself to the fullest extent. He as added endorsements deals with sprite, bubblicious and upper deck to his resume throughout the years and in 2007 was ranked #1 by Forbes as top earner under 25 w/ $27 Million per year. Lebron is like a big kid (not just cause he's gigantic) but when it comes to the two things he's most passionate about, money and basketball, he's all business! Financially, Lebron has ambitions of being a Global commodity and wishes to become the first Billionaire Athlete (despite the fact that Tiger Woods is a breath away from that same feet).
Entering the playoffs this year, Cleveland had 66 wins (leading all of NBA teams) and Lebron was averaging 28.4 ppg, 7.2 apg and 7.6 rpg and did I mention he won MVP honors this year? Lebron's Cavaliers faced off against the Pistons of Detroit. The Cavs kept their motor on full speed ahead coming out of the regular season to beat the Pistons in 4 games. James averaged 32 points per game in that series. After a few days off, King James took that same team against a tough Atlanta Hawk team. But the mighty Hawks were no match for the King and his court. Atlanta fell in another 4 game series. James averaged 34 in that series not to mention he dropped 47 in game 3. With Lebron standing tall and with a Kobe vs Lebron NBA finals lingering in media heaven, only one man stood in the way. And the biggest man of all men to boot.
23yr old Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic. 1st overall draft pick of the following James draft year, Dwight stands 6'11" 265 with shoulders that appear wider than my wingspan. Dubbed with the nickname "Superman" Howard could play chicken with a freight train and I think the train would fall on the loosing side. The series ended in an exasperating Cleveland loss in game 6. The Kings court was a no show when time to prove to the world that they were the answer to Cleveland's woes. James dropped 49, 35, 41, 44, 37 and 25 (231) while the rest of the Cavaliers had only 376. That's right people, Lebron was accountable for 76% of the scoring throughout the series. That is an insane amount of responsibility. When the final horn sounded to conclude the series in Orlando with the scoreboard showing a 13 point defeat to the King, Lebron simply walked off the court and into the locker room without any acknowledgement to his opponents for a job well done.
I found it to be extremely disappointing that he conducted himself with such poor manor and distastefulness in an arena where sportsmanship outweighs emotion. Lebron has been catching some heat for his actions and has defended it with the simple comment of "I am a competitor, I'm a winner. I don't think its right to congratulate someone who just beat you up." No coming from me, the kid who has played in over 4 organized sports (baseball, basketball, soccer and softball) it is customary and one of the first fundamentals of athletics that you congratulate your opponent despite the outcome of the match. Even if you hate their faces and wish death upon their families, you bite your tongue and you line up on the field of battle and you, at least say "good game."
Lebron is a winner. That idea is understandable. But he's also a sore loser. He's gotten to the point that he's too good for loosing. It may have to do with his age, maybe with the pressure put on him by a City drenched in defeat or even the teammates and coaches around him who are all looking up at him like he's the saviour of their people. But any of the reasons that can be stated, the conclusion is the same, his actions were classless. I fell that Lebron James, King James, will go down in sports history as the GREATEST NBA PLAYER to ever play. He has the skill and talent within him to lift any team to great heights. He has a long and prosperous career ahead of him that can be filled with gold rings, gold basketballs and MVP trophies that can fill a house. But non will mean anything if he isn't humble. Humble for the gift and talent that lies within him. For the opportunity to go out and do great things. And for the growth, knowledge and honor that comes with defeat.