“All the people that were rooting me on to fail, at the end of the day they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life they had before. They have the same personal problems they had to today. I’m going to continue to live the way I want to live and continue to do the things that I want with me and my family and be happy with that.” - LeBron James
About ten hours after I turned off the last of the Mavericks championship post-game coverage, my nine month old woke me at 5:30AM crying. My wife stammered out of bed saying ”I am going to be so tired today” and off she went.
LeBron was right. I had rooted for him to fail, my kid tears doubling as an alarm clock is a staple of my life today, and “The King” is always going to live the way he wants to live.
Dirk Nowitzki spent the post game news conference cuddled up to his MVP Trophy, speaking of using the bitter pill of losing the 2006 Finals as a motivator to become a more complete player.
“I am not sure I would be the player I am today if we would have won in 2006,” Nowitzki said. “Losing gave me the drive to be better.”
He went on to talk about dedicating 11 months out of the year to being a professional basketball player, where he developed needed areas in his game, like getting to the basket during must score possessions.
During James presser, he reminded us that his life is better than ours. No talk about inability to get position in the post or lack of movement without the ball. No bold declarations about looking within to make himself a champion. Just the ramblings of someone who might not have the thick skin to endure the ridicule that lays ahead.
LeBron is rich. He is more muscular than the fans who wear his jerseys and has better tattoos than the folks who boo him. He lives a dream lifestyle and has intimate knowledge of the beautiful women that most men are scared to talk to.
However, the public does have one thing that LeBron can’t buy and that’s the ability to vet his legacy. While LeBron drinks champagne behind velvet ropes, beer drinkers on bar stools joke about not asking LeBron to change a dollar because he won’t give you the fourth quarter.
LeBron reminds me of this kid I played Little League with named Jimmy. You know the type, the unbeatable pitcher who could over power most 12-year olds with fastballs and snapped off curveballs. Jimmy knew he was good and wore his All Star jacket everywhere, which is why it was confusing when he started hyperventilating on the mound during the Championship game when he gave up the lead with three-innings to play.
It was no longer confusing when he faked a leg injury during the All Star game under similar circumstances. Jimmy wasn’t the best, he was a front running bully who folded when faced with real pressure and adversity.
While LeBron’s “decision” made him unlikeable and his bold declarations made him polarizing, it was his play during “Winning Time” that gave the loudest voice to the haters. LeBron is that local Little League kid who snickered after striking us out, only to end his season walking off the field in tears and hoping nobody noticed that he was a fraud who quit on his team.
By the way, Monday’s suck, I have high cholesterol, I am losing my hair and my kid is teething. Yet it all seems ok today because my opinion of “The King” is no longer based on not liking him, it’s based on what I saw from him when his life mattered most.