*LeBron James is perhaps the most talented 25 year old basketball player to ever walk the face of the earth, but talent does not always translate into accomplishments. At this point LeBron James is averaging a robust 27.1 points per season (29 ppg in the playoffs), 7 rebounds and 7 assists per game.
For those of us that have ever played basketball (on any level) and have been talented enough to score 27 points even once, how sore were your knees, shoulders and ankles for the next week? To do so for a season is tremendous, and for 6 years? Yes, it has been done before but that doesn’t make the feat any less amazing.
Over the first 7 years of his career Michael Jeffery Jordan averaged 31.5 points per game (PPG) and Kobe “Bean” Bryant averaged 21.5 over his first 7 years in the NBA. Since LeBron James and Kobe Bryant are considered contemporaries we have to state that Black Mamba has averaged 29.5 PPG since LeBron has been in the league.
The truly amazing part is that LeBron is far more unselfish than Jordan or Kobe were at the same point in their careers and he never had to be coaxed into passing and is, by far, a better rebounder. If he’s selfish he’s a triple-double all day long, plus he should only be in his 2nd year in the league! Remember, he is straight out of high school! Has there ever been a basketball player that combines size, strength, athleticism, agility and speed so harmoniously? I’m simply not certain. But what is certain is that LeBron James is the most explosive athlete to hit Cleveland, Ohio since Jim Brown. His departure is just as abrupt as the former Cleveland Browns running back as well. When Jim Brown announced his retirement, the entire NFL – and Cleveland – was stunned. What stunned the city even more is when owner Art Modell made off with the Cleveland Browns like a thief in the night and headed to Baltimore.
Great players come to Cleveland, but most eventually end up leaving. Add LeBron to the list. The sports fans of Cleveland are a perpetually broken-hearted lot to be certain. Sports fans whose teams’ homes are within America’s rustbelt tend to be slightly more fervent, and sometimes irrational, regarding their respective teams than others. But unlike Detroit, Buffalo, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, and Chicago, which isn’t really in the rustbelt but is in the general geographic area, Cleveland has had nothing but heartbreaking disappointment and no champions about which to speak in any sport since the Cleveland Browns won the NFL championship in 1964. The only city in the region that has as much to complain about from a sports perspective is Cincinnati, Ohio but they appear to maintain a perpetual stiff upper lip. Big ups to the Nati for that!
Now LeBron James has decided to go to Miami and become a part of the most intriguing basketball trio since the days of Magic, Worthy and Kareem, or Bird, McHale and Parish. While new jacks are bound to mention Jordan, Pippen and Rodman, we can’t really place them on the same level as the others collectively because Rodman couldn’t score. His offensive moves looked like someone injected his arms with Novocain. The other combinations are comprised of players who could drop 25 points as easily as a kindergartner catches a cold.
As a NBA fan, I can’t wait to see how things pan out and, to be certain, they are no shoe-in to even be the best team in their own division with a formidable Orlando Magic team dwelling in the very same state. But I am a little bit dismayed by the overwhelming, towering wave of vitriol aimed at LeBron James by the media. It is to be expected that Cleveland would want to say and, perhaps do, harmful things to LeBron after being left holding the bag yet again.
Can anyone tell me whether there has ever been a athlete produced by the state of Ohio that was as explosive, dynamic and well-loved as LeBron James? To loose him is to be slapped, yet again, with the realization that winning a championship in Cleveland, Ohio for any professional sports team is nearly impossible. I recall growing up a New Jersey Nets basketball fan and a Rutgers University football fan so I have a general idea of your pain, Cleveland. But things got really crazy when Cleveland’s Dan Gilbert took it personally and came out with the biggest example of “bitchassedness” in professional sports since Latrell Sprewell told the Minnesota Timberwolves that $10 million a year wasn’t enough to feed his family.
In his open letter to Cleveland Cavalier fans Dan Gilbert called LeBron a “self-appointed King”, a traitor and everything but a child of God. In it, he labels the move to Miami “a cowardly betrayal” and condemned James for his “shameless display of selfishness and betrayal.” OK, it’s alright for you, Mr. Gilbert to fire a coach in Mike Brown, winner of 60 plus games two years in a row, cut, trade and waive players and call it business but when a player decides he wants to go somewhere and win then he’s “cowardly betrayer?” It brings to mind when former NBA All-Star Chris Webber carried the lowly Sacramento Kings to heights the likes of which they had never seen. He blew out his knee and, while he still scored a lot of points, he wasn’t the same. So they traded him. What if the same thing had happened to LeBron? Where would your loyalty be? We already know the answer to that. C’mon Mr. Gilbert, then you enhanced the “bitcherocity” by coming out reiterating that you meant what you said. Clearly the individual that is thinking about himself in the equation is Dan Gilbert. His team, which had an average home attendance of about 11,500 the year before LeBron joined, sold out every game in its 20,000-seat arena last season. With LeBron James gone the economic impact on Cleveland will be sharp, but it’s not the end of the world for downtown. The Cleveland Indians are always competitive and their home, Progressive Field, is within walking distance of downtown Cleveland. The Cleveland Browns are … well, their stadium is within walking distance of downtown as well. If people are going to spend money, they’re going to spend it, LeBron James or not. The truly selfish one here is Dan Gilbert. His investment is the one that will take a hit economically, not Cleveland.
He went on to state that he felt LeBron quit during the playoffs this year and even mentioned what he felt were a few examples. He averaged 29 points and nearly 10 boards and 7 assists against the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Semifinals of 2010. Yes, he did appear distracted at times but when there’s a rumor circulating about a teammate of yours sleeping with your mother, the most beloved woman in your world, you would be distracted too. To top that off rumor mongers started saying it wasn’t the first time she had exhibited such behavior and was known to “act out” since LeBron was a small boy. Basically, they were calling his Momma a hoe! If that don’t distract you then you must not love your mother.
Mr. Gilbert also says LeBron was the “self appointed King.” Umm, no sir, the media gave him that name when he was in high school. A black man in America can never call himself the king of anything without the media agreeing to some extent. It was all good when he was dunking all over the heads of hapless defenders and boosting the ratings of your B.S. little local sports shows. It was all good when he was Mr. Humble, never in the news for anything negative and generally a well-adjusted young man. Well, as well-adjusted as a millionaire can be. Now he’s the anti-Christ of sports? What’s really going on? Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan said in a speech that the NBA is a league of slaves and that LeBron James was a sharecropper. Was Dan Gilbert’s tirade a thinly disguised racial rant? Did he really want to say something like ‘Nigga we made you! How dare you, my top Buck, go wandering off! Who’s gonna tend to my fields now?” Harsh but so was Mr. Gilbert’s assumption that LeBron owed him anything other than what he had already given him. He helped him make money by selling season tickets, jerseys, boosting the Cavaliers brand and leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to an NBA Final. Lets not even get started on revenue from television garnered by the “self-appointed King.”
I believe the real problem is not just LeBron James controlling his own fate but an overall feeling in America that some prominent black people are no longer “staying in their lanes.” They’re not behaving like slaves anymore. Like his friend Jay-Z, LeBron is thinking of the big picture. Some sports reporter said LeBron James “hurt his brand” by going to South Beach. Really! He couldn’t possibly believe that. LeBron wants a ring as soon as possible. Once that happens his legacy is set. He left money on the table in Cleveland to get a ring and, after he gets a ring, the sky is the limit on his salary. How can one who left millions on the table to win be considered selfish?
Remember Kobe’s most recent contract was 3 years $125 million. Why was Kobe’s asking price so high? Because he’s a proven winner. It may take 3 or 4 years but eventually Kobe Bryant will begin to noticeably decline in physical ability and LeBron will be in his physical prime! Can you imagine? One knock that I personally had against LeBron is he never seemed truly ticked off, but after all this I believe that’s about to change. He is about to come back with a vengeance and leave small forwards and shooting guards across the league cowering in his wake. Scary! Also, with Wade on the other wing, I predict that he will post up just a little bit more. At 6 ft 8 inches, 250 plus pounds he has the size of a traditional power forward and nobody would be able to stop him from scoring or finding D-Wade cutting to the basket or finding Chris Bosh foul line extended for the mid-range shot. Yes, I can’t wait for the NBA season to start and for all “Anti-LeBronicans” to once again jump on the bandwagon as the Heat go headhunting. Should we crown them champs? Heck no! Other than the talented trio the team is riddled with holes, but it’s going to be fun to watch.