Bill Murray por Presidente
Bill Murray por Presidente
Lebron James was always going to be something special in the NBA. Just like Shaquille O'Neal, James holds God-given physical attributes comparable to that of Greek Gods. Granted you can't just be 6'8" 250 pounds and expect to be an NBA All-Star, as a ton of skill goes into being a dominant force in the league. Stats speak for themselves, as do highlights, which leads us to media hype. Media is a demigod in its own rite, which can further add to the explosive over-hype of up and comers.
With the recent start of the NBA season and his return to Cleveland, I was thinking about Lebron's NBA debut as an 18 year old, fresh faced kid from Akron, Ohio. Can you remember 11 years back? I know, kinda hard for me too. James posted a highlight-laden first game with 25 points and showed all the naysayers that his decision to forgo college was the right one.
As with many young and talented superstars, we as fans like to see the dunks, the lifestyles, the Nike commercials. But at some point, maybe a few years of honeymooning, we care about one thing: winning. Fast forward to present day, Lebron is a two-time NBA champion, more impressively, arriving to the Finals in each of the last four years, winning back to back in 2012 and 2013, but losing to a "mature" San Antonio Spurs last season.
I grew up watching Michael Jordan on television and remember two things always grabbing my attention to the point of dropping my pizza on the floor: 1) if MJ missed a jump shot, period. 2) if Mike didn't swish a free-throw. I can recall the feeling like two seconds ago. "Wow, he actually missed a shot?" Jordan was that good. Kobe Bryant's affect on me was a little different, but in the same vein, Kobe made a high percentage of his shots, but most importantly, made the clutch shots, almost, every...single...time. The ferocity that Kobe carried during his heyday is second to none, other than Jordan himself. When there was time for one shot left and we cut to a TV timeout, these two guys not only wanted the shot, they demanded it. Defending teams knew the ball was going to either Jordan or Kobe and they still would drill the game winner, because they had the killer confidence the entire time.
Lebron James doesn't have this same scent of killer. Not even close. James could win 7 championships (surpassing Jordan's 6 and Bryant's 5) and I still wouldn't agree, especially because I believe he has begun his decent as a player. My Dad is a boxing fanatic. He thinks he knows everything about fighting, and he does know a great deal, somethings we disagree on. One of Dad's favorite riffs is " you can always tell if a fighter is scared by looking at his eyes". I couldn't agree with this more in all forms of competition. Especially basketball. Lebron may think he wants the ball down the stretch, but deep down I believe he subconsciously isn't sure he can make the shot. I could go on about how Dwayne Wade and company's presence was instrumental in Lebron's two rings and the same could be said about Shaq and Kobe, but this is not the point. Ultimately, the point is you can be a heralded, championship winning NBA superstar without being able to knockdown that crucial free-throw, jump shot, or make that once in a lifetime play. Lebron James has done this in his career, but he will never be at the level of a Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant.
Who do I envision when I hear the word "clutch"? Just off the top of my head, it has been Jordan, Magic, Kobe, D. Fisher, Robert Horry, Allen Iverson, and Timmy Duncan? I know this could make for a great debate and an on going list. This definitely begs a totally different topical question: where does the will to be psychologically a PIMP in sports originate? We're all human, we all practice (not as much as Kobe Bryant), but there is more to it than confidence. Is it our emotional background or the baggage we carry? Whatever it is, Lebron is lacking it, though I will acknowledge it has somewhat improved over the years.
Lebron, no hard feelings buddy, you've been pretty awesome for the past decade, I'm just thinking I'd rather have Kevin Love take the game winning shot than you.