With the exception of the absence of a Miami “threepeat” there are no real losers coming out of the NBA Championship series…especially not LeBron James.
While the co-hosts of “A Little R&R on Sports” agreed the NBA Championship would be won and done in a five-game series, there was sharp disagreement over whether the Miami Heat or the San Antonio Spurs players would be kissing the trophy. Suffice it to say that experience won both the championship and the bet. But with the exception of the absence of a Miami “threepeat” there are no real losers coming out of this series…especially not LeBron James.
Since he was drafted right out of high school in 2003, most of us have subconsciously thought of James as a kid. That’s likely due to pervasive descriptions of him as a “man-child” at 6’8” and 250 lbs. What makes that description tricky and a borderline insult is the perception that what makes him a man is his massive physical presence, exclusively.
Most of us think of him as a child in all other aspects of his being…particularly chronologically since most of us usually don’t take the time to update our minds and fast forward our thinking of him to the present day fact that he is a 29-year-old man. A kiddy nickname like “Bron Bron” doesn’t help either.
Guys old enough will recall that back in the day we had an admittedly chauvinistic, yet often highly accurate phrase, that we used for a fine woman that wouldn’t be accused of being “the sharpest knife in the drawer.” It went something like, “Body by Fisher…mind by Mattel.” The term man-child conjures up that kind of parallel when it comes to high school and college athletes transitioning to pro sports with man-sized bodies, skills, games and most definitely contracts, but that seem to have childlike immaturity when it comes to responsibility, decision making and behavior.
With all the cyclonic media coverage, hype and 24/7 attention that still swirls around James every day, maybe a few immature indiscretions would be predictable and to his fans, even understandable. But it ain’t happened yet.
If you believe he’s a physical “freak of nature” in terms of size, speed, agility and ability, then break on down, give him props and acknowledge that he’s also an intellectual “freak of nature” with maturity, savvy, leadership and communication skills that greatly transcend his age, background and educational attainment. In just 11 short years he has become: the most complete player in the NBA, the leader of two world championship teams and two runners-up, an astute multi-millionaire businessman, a strong cause-related philanthropist and by all indications he is an incredibly devoted husband and loving father, despite not having one is his life.
Unfortunately, James’ example is a huge exception to the rule for the experiences of the majority of gifted athletes raised by single mothers in poor, urban environments. That’s the bad news. The good news though is that his example is an example that it can be done.
We saw something else last Sunday night too. We saw character and class. We watched a warrior battle his hardest, give it his best, come up short, deal with the emotions inherent when a winner loses, gather himself and then graciously and genuinely congratulate the victors. He seems to have a tremendous sense of consciousness too and is not afraid to speak truth to power on social issues. Although nobody can be sure, maybe he’s one of today’s athletes that Jim Brown would call if he were recruiting soldiers for a cause.
You’ve got to see one to be one when it comes to truly being a man. Before the glow of Father’s Day fades, we’re glad LJ saw whatever he saw from whomever he watched. So no worries “Bron Bron,” you lost to a better team but you’ve still got mad game… on the court and in life.
(“A Little R&R On Sports” is a nationally syndicated radio show available on hundreds of radio stations and digital platforms. It streams live on Saturdays (11 a.m. EDT/10 a.m. CDT) on sportsbyline.com or on ranronsports.com anytime. In Memphis, tune in Saturday mornings, 9 a.m. on AM 790 ESPN Radio.)