*LeBron James is the most physically gifted basketball player ever to play in the NBA. He combines the speed of a guard with the size and strength of a traditional pivot player.
LeBron James is one of the most skilled basketball players ever to play in the NBA. He can dribble, pass, defend, jump, and shoot (most of the time).
LeBron James has one of the highest basketball IQs ever. He constantly looks to make the play that coaches would applaud even if it invites mocking from fans and pundits.
All of this combines to create two impossible situations – two curses, one might say. The first curse basketball fans are very familiar with. Someone with LeBron’s gifts is expected to be perfect in every situation. It is ridiculous to believe that anyone could make the correct choice (and execute that choice) each time they are faced with multiple options. That is the curse that affects LeBron and fans of him personally and fans of the Miami Heat.
The second curse is the curse of most other teams attempting to recreate what the Miami Heat have. Because the Heat have won the last two NBA championships and lost in the Finals the season prior to that, it will be inevitable that the other teams will try to clone what the Heat have done in terms of roster and playing style. Unfortunately this way of play is rarely successful long term because it depends on having someone like LeBron James. Until recently only the Phoenix Suns, and San Antonio Spurs have had sustained success, and those two franchises had Hall of Fame players as their centerpieces. Over the last two seasons one might add the Golden State Warriors, Denver Nuggets, New York Knicks to the list of teams that try to play the style of basketball that the Heat employ. Of course none of those teams has gotten past the second round of the playoffs.
This curse of LeBron James is failing to understand just how unique he is and therefore believing other players can duplicate his playing style. But coming back to the opening of this article, how many players can be described as football players with basketball skills and selfless by nature.
This second curse of LeBron James goes further for one person in particular (homer alert!). Carmelo Anthony is a scoring savant. He can score from the low post, mid post, and three point line; he can drive and makes free throws. It should not be surprising that he captured a scoring title this past season. For much of NBA history, that would have been enough to garner him praise as one of the best all time forwards (hello James Worthy, George Gervin, Rick Barry). But now because of LeBron, and especially because Carmelo and LeBron were in the same draft, Carmelo will be tagged as not being good enough. This is especially true among New York media and fans, who in a different time would have been the ones lending Carmelo the most support.
Let me be clear: fans will always and should always want their team to win, and when that doesn’t happen they should be upset and voice their displeasure. But fans now think that their team’s best player should become, and can become, like LeBron and that is ridiculous. LeBron James’ greatness causes unrealistic expectations.
Watching LeBron during these peak years is a glimpse at perfection. But that is an absurd standard to hold some to.
Trevor Brookins is a free lance writer in Rockland County, New York. He is currently working on a book about American culture during the Cold War. His writing has appeared in The Journal News. You can reach him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @historictrev.