LeBron James can finally breathe easy. The man has been in the spotlight since he was in middle school. He has been the chosen one since high school. While we were in the midst of watching Kobe win and win, LBJ was the one who was the next MJ.
The problem is James has never been the same players as Michael Jordan, or more recently, Kobe Bryant. And we’ve actually known that, well, forever. In fact, here are LeBron’s pre-2003 NBA Draft strengths according to NBA.com:
Strengths: Best attribute is his ability to make the correct pass with flair. Excellent strength and body control. His size and versatility allow him to play multiple positions. Coaches and teammates praise his unselfishness.
Why do we refuse to acknowledge that James is a uniquely different talent? While the conversation of Kobe being “selfish” was fleeting, the James isn’t a leader thing just wouldn’t go away.
The fact is LeBron is a great basketball player. In that league, more than any other, great players win championships.
Michael Jordan was 28-years-old when he won title number one. James is 27-years-old. It seems he is right on a normal pace for this point in his career. Why the shit storm, then?
“The Decision” certainly didn’t help James appeal to the masses. He admitted it may have been a mistake, too.
The tattoo James has on his back has been controversial as well. Whatever. How is LeBron’s tat any worse than you having your self-designated nickname across your back?
LBJ has handled this type of hypercritical, hypocritical comments damn well.
Never before has a player had to deal with the scrutiny that LeBron has faced. Technology has made the world much smaller. That has worked against James, and other modern day athletes. However, it’s also the type of criticism that James faced that lead to everyone piggy backing on LBJ.
When Kobe, at the height of his career, was caught cheating on his wife, he caught hell from fans and the media. That all ended pretty damn quickly considering the severity of the situation, though. When did it end? Bryant changed his number, and won a title. LA’s star was back. What a positive story! On the other hand, James televises a major moment in sports history from a Boys & Girls club and catches all types of hell. Oh yeah, that seems fair.
LeBron has bought himself time. For now, all those who questioned his ability to win must be quiet. Last year, against the Mavs, a season’s worth of criticism got to James. Ironically, it was forgetting about all those haters that likely pushed James over the edge to championship status.
Just as I was thrilled to see Mark Cuban win a title in 2011, seeing LeBron James achieve his dream of becoming an NBA champion was just as sweet. I called the summer of 2010 the “Summer of LeBron” but maybe it’s 2012 that is the start of LeBron’s time.