9 years ago an 18 year old high school basketball phenom decided to bypass college and go straight to the pros. He was immediately castrated for doing so because so-called “basketball aficionado’s” wanted him to go to college and “learn how to play the game”. Lebron promptly won the Rookie of the Year award over Dewayne Wade who played 3 years at Marquette, and Carmelo Anthony that played 1 year at Syracuse. He did something only 2 other players in the history of the NBA had done, average over 20 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists per game. The other 2 players that accomplished this were Michael Jordan and Oscar Robertson, two of the best players the game has ever WITNESSed, pun intended. Looks like things worked out!
During his rookie season he was crowned King James by the marketing heads at Nike and as any 19 year old would have done, if put in the same situation, he accepted the title and ran with it. But regardless of what he did, anyone that knows endorsement deals know that they have a lot of control over your on and off the court image, so he had little to no input into the decision. Besides, if you were offered $90 million to endorse a shoe, and be crowned as a king, you would have made the same decision as he did with no hesitation.
Two years later, in 2005, he made another decision that had sports pundits, business execs and anybody with an opinion up in arms. The Internets was on fire. How could this young [black] athlete be so brazen? Lebron fired his agent and hired his long time friends to run his fastly growing empire. Everyone had something negative to say about this move. He was making the biggest mistake of his life, his career as a major endorser was dead in the water. How could he let these young [black] kids RUiN his career like this? But Lebron had faith in the abilities of his friends and they never skipped a beat, gaining more and more endorsements and helping their lifelong friend build an even greater empire. Once again things worked out the way he planned them!
The following year, in 2006 he led his team to the playoffs but they got knocked out in the Eastern Conference semifinals by Detroit. The next year, in 2007, he led his team to the Finals for the first time in franchise history but was defeated in 4 games by the San Antonio Spurs. The following year they were knocked out in the semifinals and the year after they got Shaq to help him out. They made it back to the conference finals but were defeated by Orlando.
In 2010, Lebron’s last year under contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers, they went back to the playoffs and were defeated by Boston in the conference semifinals once again. This would be his last year wearing a Cavalier uniform; The Decider had decided to use free agency to take his talents to a new team.
He staged an event that was televised nationally in a prime time slot to inform NBA fans of his decision. He walked us through his career as a player, talked about his family life and most importantly let fans know that the decision that he was about to make was based strictly off of the fact that he felt like the move he was about to make would give him the best chance to win a NBA Championship ring. He did not want to end his career and never have a chance to bask in the glory of winning a ring. He knew that retiring without a ring would always keep him in the, “yeah he was a good player, but he wasn’t great because he never won a ring category”, and that wasn’t an option for him. He wanted to be mentioned in the conversations involving Michael Jordan, Larry Byrd, Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson, Shaquille O’neal, Tim Duncan, and Kobe Bryant. Not Karl Malone, Allen Iverson, Patrick Ewing, and Charles Barkley. Isn’t that what fans want, don’t we want to see players that want to win? And Lebron wants to win! And the team he chose was the Miami Heat!
Once again the Internets and blogosphere were on fire. Every armchair, barbershop basketball guru on the planet had something to say and most of it was negative. The bobble heads that talk sports on the TV’s and Radio’s slammed him for his decision.
He’s diminishing his worth by going to a team that already has a star player. He’s hoping D Wade puts him on his back and carries him to the Promised Land! He needs 2 other alls tars to win a ring, because he can’t do it himself! He’ll never win one, he’s trying to ride on Wades coattails! I heard so much crap spew from people’s mouths about why he should have stayed in Cleveland and tried to win there, that you would have thought Lebron James had shattered their hopes and dreams. People were acting like he had divorced them and took the dog and the kids. I couldn’t understand how a decision he made could affect so many people to the point of them being as angry as they were. I understand why Cavalier fans were mad, but the rest of the country, I was dumfounded.
Then I realized that the people that were angry tended to be the same types. They were almost always, about 95% of them, basketball players who claim they were dogs when they played. It was hilarious, a bunch of, I never made it to the pro’s, didn’t even play college basketball “guru’s” claiming Lebron didn’t have the heart to win one on his own in Cleveland. Saying stuff like he should have stuck it out in Cleveland and wasted his career away until he was old; and then did what Malone and Barkley did, join teams with other star players so they can try to win one, which resulted in them being ring-less. That was the conventional wisdom coming from the streets.
This same type of venom was being echoed by sports pundits also. That’s when I realized that all you really need is to be very opinionated and have a little working knowledge of the game that you’re commentating on in order to be a pundit. What else could it be?
I’m no pundit but I’ve been watching basketball since MJ came into the league in 1984. It took him 7 years to win a championship ring and he didn’t win his first one until he got Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant, he couldn’t do it alone. Then you take a look at other NBA greats and you realize that none of them did it on their own. Larry Byrd had Mchale, Parrish, and a host of other good players, Magic Johnson had Kareem, Worthy and a bunch of all stars. Isaiah, Dumars, and Rodman. Shaq, Kobe, Fisher, and Horry. Duncan, Parker, Genobli, Robinson. Hakeem, Drexler, Casell and Smith. And the list goes on and on. Every great player that one rings had a host of great and very good players with them, especially when they won multiple rings. And this goes back throughout basketballs history, no player has won a ring without a championship caliber roster.
All these teams needed more than one all star to bring it home, and because Lebron knew this he opted to take his talents to South Beach where he knew that Chris Bosh would go also, to team up with Dewayne Wade and create a dynasty. He knew that Cleveland was never going to create that dynasty because they didn’t want to spend the money that it took to create it by bringing in top tier talent that cost top tier money. They kept getting second and third tier players and was trying to place the burden of winning the cities first championship ever, square on the back of that 19 year old kid from Akron Ohio. They wanted him to be their savior and he knew he couldn’t be that person at an early enough age to get out, and try to accomplish his childhood dream of winning multiple championships, and going down in history as one of the best players to ever play the game. Plus have the hardware to prove it.
The very next year after making that decision he took his team to the finals, which most of the pundits said he wouldn’t be able to do and lost. But this year June 21 2012 Lebron James did what he set out to do. The Miami Heat won the 2012 NBA Championship! Lebron led his team with 27.1 pts, 7.9 rebounds and 6.2 assist per game during the regular season which earned him his 3rd MVP title. He then averaged 30.3 pts, 9.70 rebounds and 5.6 assist a game during the playoffs to win his first ever ring, then won the MVP of the finals trophy with 28.6 pts, 10.2 rebounds and 7.4 assist per game. Hands down some of the most impressive finals statistics ever, he almost averaged a triple double. I guess he made the right decision again!
So now that he’s got the monkey off his back we are about to see greatness unfold right before our eyes. All I can say is WITNESS!