It’s hard to give an NBA player that’s dominating and not playing for your team proper credit. LeBron James is the player that suffers from this the most.
To get off the subject a little, I spent four amazing years in the Marine Corps. While I was in, I found that there were basically three groups of Marines: ones that loved it and were gung ho about the Corps, indifferent ones and ones that openly despised it and couldn’t wait to get out.
As our time in the club came to an end and we got out, we all came to love our memories and experiences that the Marine Corps gave us. There are exceptions, however, but almost everyone comes around to loving the Marine Corps and appreciating it as time passes.
Alright, I know what you’re thinking… ”weird flex dude, what’s this got to do with the NBA?” And yeah, that’s a fair thought. But, isn’t this exactly what we’re doing with one of the greatest players to ever play the game in LeBron James? There are the same crowds of people feeling the same ways about LeBron.
The King has already put together an impressive enough career to challenge the greats before him. This can leave the masses feeling like we may not be giving enough credit to the stars that paved the way before James. As a youngster, I may have only seen LeBron play and say that there’s no way Michael Jordan could hold a candle to him.
This could make the other half of the basketball world push back equally hard against James pointing to his failures or the small holes in his game. The constant tug of war is aided by the media fueling it as well. It’s an awesome topic to talk about.
However, it was LeBron’s greatness that inspired Mike to make The Last Dance. The amazing documentary has only aided and fueled this argument as the GOAT title is always the argument that comes up. To be frank, it’s a matter of opinion though (Wilt Chamberlain is my GOAT if it helps).
Growing up, I got into the NBA as a massive Kobe Bryant fan (my username in some online forums was appropriately “Mamba4GOAT”). However, as a Kobe fan, I couldn’t let LeBron challenge his greatness. I wasn’t ready to accept that Kobe could have a peer or even a player that was better than him.
He was the Black Mamba that won five titles and LeBron had to stack the deck to get his. LeBron was a choke artist and couldn’t close games. I made all of those arguments to help build my pro-Kobe narrative.
Does any of that sound familiar? This is the route we go when LeBron’s greatness rises to challenge our guy. Why can’t we appreciate that both players are great without comparing them? As I’ve grown older and dove more into the NBA, I’ve learned to at least appreciate the elite passing bulldozer that will tear your heart out of your body on both ends of the floor.
I mean, how could you not love watching LeBron throw down one of his earth-shaking dunks that made us all wish he’d join a dunk contest? Or that electrifying defense that could have him guard just about every position on the court? (LeBron is almost owed at least one Defensive Player of the Year award at this point)
And let’s not forget him dragging teams that rivaled Allen Iverson’s 2001 Finals run to the same spot. LeBron’s crazy!
As the superstar is nearing his twilight (I’d say entering it but LeBron doesn’t respect Father Time), we need to acknowledge that one day, the season will start without him on a roster. One day, we’ll see arguably the greatest player of my generation leave the game and leave us all wishing there was more. Years from now we’ll be talking about LeBron James and looking back fondly on his career the same way Jordan’s career is looked back on, regardless of which side you were on.
So, why not at least appreciate what we have before there’s no longer another game to do so? Sincerely, this former LeBron hater.