Thursday, May 13, 2010

LeBron's moment of truth awaits

Arguably, there has never been an NBA game that promises to reveal so much...

This fantastic perspective, "LeBron's moment of truth awaits", from Adrian Wojmarowski on Yahoo Sports reveals what's at stake for a person completely in the limelight, and how a sports event has the capability to dominate a region's perception of itself, as well as influence economics.

Wojnarowski's article suggests the proclaimed basketball king just doesn't appear to get it.

Said James, after the game 5 loss, "I spoil a lot of people with my play. When you have three bad games in seven years, it's easy to point them out."

Wojnarowski writes:
Somewhere, the whispers of the game’s greatest talents became a murmur louder and louder: James still doesn’t understand part of the price of greatness is inviting the burden on yourself and sparing those around you. He missed 11 of 14 shots. James didn’t score a basket until the third quarter. He was terrible, just terrible, and yet James couldn’t bring himself to say the worst home playoff loss in franchise history began and ended with him. For all of James’ unselfishness on the floor, he can still be so selfish off it. They could’ve lined up the greatest players in the game’s history Tuesday night in the primes of their championship lives, and there isn’t one of them who would’ve deflected and deferred like the self-proclaimed King James. They would’ve been livid and they would’ve put it on themselves. Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, and, yes, Shaquille O’Neal

They had titles, and they would’ve mutilated themselves for public consumption. James is too cool, too stubborn and maybe too self-unaware. This is on me, they would’ve told you, and, I’ll get us out of this. They would’ve made sure teammates and opponents, fans and enemies understood. They would’ve made sure the whole world understood: This isn’t how an MVP plays in the playoffs. This isn’t how he lets a legacy linger in limbo. What you heard out of James was self-righteous: “I put a lot of pressure on myself to go out and be great and the best player on the court. When I don’t, I feel bad for myself.”

This wasn’t the night to feel bad for himself.

I love sports. Pro basketball isn't really my thing, but I recognize when human drama is on display. LeBron James is an unbelievable talent, in a field that happens to be worshiped by the public (in fame and fortune). One reason why is the ability for us to witness (ironically, the promo word for James) the specialness of the moment: the drive to succeed, played out publically for all to see, and the invitation to us, as fans, to share in the moment.

Wojnarowski concludes:

Winning everything takes a single-minded, obsessive devotion. Michael Jordan had it. Kobe Bryant does, too. They didn’t want to win championships, they had to win them. They needed them for validation and identity and, later, they became moguls. LeBron James is running around recruiting college kids to his marketing company. He picks up the phone, tells them, “This is the King,” and makes his pitch to be represented in his stable. Think Kobe would ever bother with this? Or Michael? Not a chance when they were on the climb, not when they still had a fist free of rings. LeBron James is on the clock now, and Game 6 in Boston could be for his legacy in Cleveland. He has been prancing around the edges for too long now, angling for a transcendent existence he believed his brand could bring him. Only, it’s all a mirage. It’s all vapor until he does the heavy lifting that comes now, that comes in the shadows of Magic and Larry, Michael and Kobe. This isn’t about selling an image to Madison Avenue, about pushing product through all those dazzling plays across the winter months. This is an MVP’s time, his calling, and there was LeBron James standing in the middle of the Cavaliers’ locker room at 11:25 p.m., staring in a long mirror, fixing his shirt before the long walk down the corridor to the interview room.

James stood there for five seconds and 10 and maybe now 20, just staring into the mirror, just taking a long, long look at himself. For the first time in his career, the first time when it’s all truly on him, maybe the sport stood and stared with him. All hell breaking loose, all on the line now. Forget everything in his life, all the make-believe nonsense, Game 6 and maybe Game 7 will promise to serve as the most honest hours of his basketball life.

Okay LeBron: we're ready to witness, one way or another...

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