Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The King Has No Clothes

I was one of those people who rooted like hell for Dallas to beat Miami in the NBA Finals this year.  It was the second time in the past eight months that I had rooted for a Dallas team to win their championship (the other being the Texas Rangers against the San Francisco Giants), which in itself is just weird, given how much I loathe and despise the Cowboys.  But I digress...

Anyway, part of the reason I rooted against the Heat was because of LeBron James and his cocksure attitude upon his arrival in South Beach Miami - whether it was the pomposity of 'The Decision' or utter arrogance behind the little coming out party with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh ('Yes, We Did'? Really?).  I always liked Wade (until he pulled the shenanigans making fun of Dirk Nowitzki the other day), but his guilt by association and by collusion with James sullies him just as much and thus I couldn't root even for him.

After the clinching Game Six, "King" James went to his postgame presser and presented himself as a man who has a large lack of self-awareness - going after 'haters' and saying things to the effect that he is LeBron James the Great and his critics are a bunch of peons; they will awaken with the same personal problems while he does his Scrooge McDuck impersonation diving into his huge pile of money, et cetera, et cetera.

Tim Keown chronicled some of the responses to James in his column at ESPN.com, as well as throwing in his own two cents in an attempt to be amateur psychologist.  I think he nails it here though...
James is the perfect case study of the I'm-Somebody-And-You're-Not phenomenon. He came of age in what might become known as The Entitlement Generation. I have a friend who owns a company that hires many recent college graduates, and he says the self-esteem of the 22- to 28-year-old set is both astounding and misguided. They've been raised to believe they should be overflowing with personal pride -- not a horrible concept in moderation -- and they've passed the elementary-school classes to prove it. They've grown up in a world of parents who worship them rather than discipline them, and they've rarely been given honest, frank assessments of their talents. Everybody is good at everything, nobody loses, nobody fails, nobody should be called to account for their inadequacies.

James is the phenomenon in the fun-house mirror. He's been godded up since he hit puberty, and he will continue to live a life of vast luxury and significant professional success.
It's true, but it is only going to get worse with the up and coming generation of kids.  If you, Mr. Keown, think it is bad now...you ain't see nothin' yet.  Nevertheless, he is absolutely right. LeBron James is a spoiled brat who has never been told 'no' at any point.  It's funny because I tell people that one of the most valuable lessons I learned as a kid was how to lose.  My parents never let me win at anything - therefore, when I did win for the first time, it was so much more cherished and fulfilling.

Maybe, just maybe, LeBron James will learn from this and realize that there needs to be some soul searching and looking inward rather than just looking outward for a scapegoat for his own internal failings.

Another great take came from Bill Simmons, at his new website Grantland (which I recommend bookmarking)...
If that sequence [the offensive foul in the 3rd Quarter with J.J. Barea guarding him] alone isn't enough to inspire LeBron to lock himself in a gym all summer until he emerges with a spin move, a jump hook, and a Jordan-eseque fallaway, then he's the biggest waste of talent in NBA history. You know at the car wash when they offer the "everything" package? That's what God gave LeBron. He's threatening to waste it. In a nutshell, this is what makes us so angry about him. It's not The Decision, or his lack of self-awareness, or the fact that he's a front-runner … it's that he's blowing the "everything" car-wash package. You see an athlete get handed the "everything" package maybe only five times in your life.
Read it in its entirety.  Simmons also has two theories about why the "King" bombed out so badly.  Completely worth the time.

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