The Mistrial of LeBron James

The new issue of ESPN the Magazine has a fun story on LeBron James.  Worth reading for all you sports fans.  A selection:

Ask most anyone who LeBron James is and you’re likely to get a blunt reply delivered with great conviction. Choker. God. Traitor. Hero. Arrogant. Generous. Undisciplined. Underappreciated. Everyone has an opinion. Everyone is in disagreement. And over the course of this afternoon in Miami, they all will be proved right — and therefore all be proved wrong.

It’s an hour before game time. James’ bike is parked outside the Heat locker room, but he’s absent from the optional team shootaround. He’s not in the locker room. His favorite pregame snack, a ZonePerfect Classic fudge graham bar, remains untouched. Perhaps he feels his jumper doesn’t need fine-tuning at the moment. Maybe he’s watching film. If he were any other athlete, it would not matter. But when you’re today’s LeBron — hovering in the purgatory between the sins of The Decision and the redemption that will come only from multiple Larry O’Brien trophies — your punishment is to be questioned by those who have lost all faith in you.

Read it all.  I think two general things about this topic:

1) LeBron is a monstrous talent.  I cannot imagine what it is like to play against him.  He’s basically the tallest NFL linebacker and one who is also able to jump almost four feet in the air.  <gulp>

2) LeBron struggles in the moment.  He brings a lot of pressure on himself through his marketing and all that, and that raises expectations.  When the big moments come, though, he has in the past struggled.  Maybe that will change.

  • mikewittmer

    As a Cleveland fan, it’s hard to be objective. I confess that I took perverse delight with its disappearing act in the finals last year. It’s the closest Cleveland fans have ever come to winning a championship in my lifetime. But as a Christian, I am starting to feel for him as a human being. The poor guy seems to have some unresolved issues. His high school coach in Akron is reportedly a strong Christian, and in some ways served as a father figure. But that can’t replace not knowing your real father.

    Anyway, after winning a few championships in Miami, LeBron will probably return home to almost lead Cleveland to the championship his hype machine promised.

  • owenstrachan

    I feel your pain, and I would have taken a similar kind of delight if I were you. I see a lot of strong character in LeBron alongside his failings. He is clearly a great teammate who makes everyone better, he seems to genuinely enjoy people and the game, and he is often humble about his weaknesses. He is a man who has been offered the world, and as a sinner, he rightly struggles to receive it. Need to pray for him and other stars we critique.

    And I certainly hope he does bring a championship to Cleveland. I hope he returns soon. His numbers are ferocious in Miami this year, but something still seems off.