LeBron Wants To Be King, But King Of What?   1 comment

Nearly two months ago, Bill Simmons of ESPN wrote an article entitled “Winning, Loyalty, or Immortality.” In it, one of Simmons’ followers insightfully explained the difference between Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James:

I think you define a player by what is most important to them in one word.

MJ–Winning. Hands down, all he wanted to do was win. And that’s over-used for a lot of athletes, but not him.

Kobe–Greatness. Yes, he’s going to win some, but only because he wants to be considered great and that will be a by-product at times. But you’d also see him shoot his team out of a game; jack 3s when he should press the issue and get to the paint. He didn’t mind losing a few games if people came away saying, “Kobe is great; look what happens when he doesn’t shoot.”

LeBron–Amaze. I think he just really wants to amaze people. Which is why he spends 10 minutes before the game throwing underhand, left-hand half-court shots. Why he celebrates amazing dunks and blocks, but isn’t working just as hard to win.

For alliteration sake, let me choose three different words to identify Jordan, Bryant, and James: Jordan–Victory; Bryant–Glory; James–Celebrity.

Let me be upfront in stating that I am not a fan of LeBron James. I think he’s an amazing athlete, and I go ooh and ahh whenever I see him throw down a vicious dunk on one of his many victims. However, I believe that James is what is wrong with the basketball culture today. It is filled with a self-indulgent sense of entitlement–a sense of “I will not only let my game show that I am great, but I want the world to know my great accomplishments through my proclamations of my greatness.” What bugs me about James is his arrogance in proclaiming himself “King James” and “The Chosen One.” (I don’t mind, however, if arrogance is shown on the court.) An example of the by-product of James is Andray Blatche, of the Washington Wizards, who showed that he was self-entitled and spoiled on two separate occasions this past season: first, he chewed out a backup player for grabbing a rebound instead of letting him get it to complete his first triple-double; second, he decided not to play after the first five minutes (of a game I attended) because he just didn’t feel like playing that night. Thanks, LeBron. (Now, it’s not all James’ fault, of course. I understand that I am being unduly harsh and critical, but I think James is the face of this group of athletes.)

So, LeBron James likes to be known as King… but what is he king of? People can generally have multiple loves and interests, but you reveal your greatest love when you’re forced to make a choice between two competing loves. Michael Jordan’s greatest love was winning, above all else. But that begs the question… why did he make tens of millions of dollars if he wanted to win? Why didn’t he play for the minimum so that he could get other All-Stars? Because he didn’t have to. You can love multiple things and not be forced to choose between them. With Kobe Bryant, I think that if professional basketball didn’t pay money, he would still play basketball. He would probably be working on his MBA about now, but he’d spend all his free time playing basketball because he loves the game and because he loves to show others that he’s better.

However, with the plethora of teams available to James, his decision will be a choice that reveals his greatest love. There are only three realistic choices available to him at this point: Miami Heat, New York Knicks, and Cleveland Cavaliers. Each team will reveal something about the character of James.

Miami Heat–Victory
If James chooses to join Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh (and supposedly Ray Allen, according to rumors) on the Heat, his choice will be clear. He wants to win above all else. Because, in Miami, his legacy will be hurt. Miami is not King James’ city, but DWade’s city. James would not be playing second fiddle, but he and Bosh will not be #1, but rather #1A and #1B. However, Miami will give James the greatest chance to win. It will be like the Celtics’ Big Three, but in their prime. Plus, players will join them every year below their market value for a chance to play with them in the games and to party with them in South Beach post-games. Miami is the clearest choice if he wants to win, above all else. (I personally think the Los Angeles Clippers are the top choice, in terms of layers available, but who would want to work under Donald Sterling?)

Cleveland–Loyalty
Choosing Cleveland would net James the most money, but I don’t think that’s why he would choose the Cavaliers. Although James would get a higher salary in his home-town, winning championships with Miami would improve his marketability, as would being in the media hub of the world, New York. No, if James chooses Cleveland… it’s because of loyalty. It’s because he grew up in nearby Akron. It’s because the people would be heartbroken, like finding out–through Twitter–that your first love left you for another. It’s because the city is estimated to lose about $200 million a year in revenue if he departs. It’s because the city would absolutely be devastated if he leaves. If James stays, it shows that he doesn’t value winning above all else, but I would have major respect for a man who values loyalty above all else. I think that Cleveland could get a few people in signings and trades that would keep them competitive… but James is key. They wouldn’t win, but Cleveland would still be a somebody with James.

New York–Celebrity
The New York Knicks would be a pretty good team if James chose to go there. They just signed Amar’e Stoudemire, and I am a big fan of Danilo Galinari. It’s just that the Knicks would still not be as good of a team with James as the Heat would be with James. If James went here, it’s so that his “legacy” and his “brand” would not be hurt. It’s true… Miami would hurt his brand, but it would all but seal at least 2 or 3 championships over the course of the contract. The Knicks would keep James competitive in the playoffs, but they are far from being able to guarantee him any championships. Therefore, his choice of New York would clearly reveal that his greatest priority is to become, not the next MJ, but the next Jay-Z. And I personally think that James will choose the Knicks in his announcement tomorrow. James’ career goals start with becoming the first basketball player to make a billion dollars. He wants to be like Jay-Z, who is more than just a rapper–he’s a media mogul… an icon. James wants to be that. He wants to be bigger than basketball. That’s why I believe he chooses the Knicks over the Cavaliers or the Heat.

But we shall find out tomorrow what James’ greatest love is when he makes the announcement. Victory, loyalty, celebrity. What is your greatest love, LeBron? You state that you are king, but what do you want to be king of? Tomorrow will speak volumes about the type of man James is. It will reveal the deepest love in his heart.

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Posted July 7, 2010 by Mitchell J. Kim in Uncategorized

One response to “LeBron Wants To Be King, But King Of What?

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  1. we know who is Manute Bol’s greatest love and King. this blessed my socks off!! Refreshing in this day and age of LeBron. i like how you turned the tables to the eternal. Shalom, bro.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704853404575323043046894012.html?mod=wsj_share_facebook#printMode

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