LeBron James: Is Winning Everything?

Alex McVeighSenior Analyst IMay 23, 2008

After a game seven that ranks as an eight out of 10 on the epic scale (meaning you'd probably watch it on ESPN Classic, but you'd still flip around) I was expecting LBJ to be super-pissed after his team didn't get as far as they did last year, even though the Cavs were technically a better team than they were last year.

After all, Danny Ferry proved that he was actually listening to Bron Bron by pulling the last minute trade. He dumped Larry Hughes' dead weight and Drew Gooden's on/off switch, and replaced them with a decent jump shooter, (Sczerbiak) a decent PG, (West) and a decent rebounder/defender (Wallace.)

So imagine my shock when King James' press conference included the following quotes:

"I think the second round of the postseason, game seven, these fans will finally have an opportunity to forget a little bit about what Larry Bird and Dominique Wilkins did and remember what Paul and LeBron did."

"This will go down in history."

Does that sound like someone who is devastated that his team won't be returning to the finals, or someone who is thrilled by the fact that he will now be spoken of in the same sentence as 'Nique and Larry Legend?

Regardless of the answer (and I know he had other comments, but these are the ones who stuck out to me) the fact that the question is even being asked says something.

The fact that the supposed Chosen One is already thinking about how history will remember his game seven performance minutes after the game ends doesn't exactly sit right with me.

Do you think if Jordan, Kobe, Bird, Magic, Tim Duncan, Steve Nash, Jason Kidd or Kevin Garnett had just lost a game seven, that they would even be thinking about the way they would be remembered?

Yes, I know that you have to stay positive, but there's a difference in staying positive after a gut-wrenching loss, and thinking about how it will affect your legacy because you scored 45 points.

This raises a larger issue: is Bron Bron more concerned about winning a championship or becoming a global icon? 

If he was forced to choose between the two, what would he choose? If any of the eight players mentioned above were given that chance, is there a question about what option they would prefer? I don't think so.

I know LBJ is only 23, but still. He has been immersed in hype since he was in high school, but you'd think the game would mean more to him.

He pretty much mailed in most of the 2006-07 season, only turning it on in the playoffs. Does that mean he's going to do that next season, since he got farther last year than this year?

Do you think any of the eight players named above would even THINK about mailing in a single game?  I don't.

If you think I'm being unfair by comparing him to those players, remember, they are some of the best in the game, and that is (supposedly) what LeBron wants.

This brings us around to another disturbing issue: Is LeBron merely a pioneer of the hyped up basketball protege?

O.J. Mayo seems to already have followed in his footsteps, only he is an even worse version. At least LeBron doesn't care about getting noticed as much as Mayo does.

Mayo's final high school game ended with him throwing an alley-oop to himself, throwing the ball in the crowd, then getting ejected. The scary part? If he had it to do over again, he would do the same thing a hundred times.

If Mayo cared anything about winning, wouldn't he have tried to go to a better college for his one year? (And no, it was never a question of him staying more than that, he would have entered the draft his sophomore year of high school if they'd let him.)

You don't think any of the superpowers of college basketball weren't beating his doors down?

No, he decided to go to USC (with a Godfather-style offer to Tim Floyd to boot, "O.J.'s gonna call you, be ready") it is pretty much a showbiz school in the heart of L.A.

Maybe it's not LeBron's or Mayo's fault. After all, it's not like they asked for the hype (as far as we know). But it just seems like there is a whole new kind of superstar in the making.

One that doesn't care about winning, but becoming a brand name. Yeah, they all want to be like Mike, who did both, but sometimes you can't have it both ways.

And if it comes down to choosing one or the other, which player would you rather have on your team?

 

Yeah, me too.

Related

    Lue on Lineup: 'I'm Going to Make a Change'

    Cleveland Cavaliers logo
    Cleveland Cavaliers

    Lue on Lineup: 'I'm Going to Make a Change'

    Rob Goldberg
    via Bleacher Report

    Aldridge, Spurs Power Past Cavs

    Cleveland Cavaliers logo
    Cleveland Cavaliers

    Aldridge, Spurs Power Past Cavs

    Alec Nathan
    via Bleacher Report

    Celebrities Congratulate LeBron on 30K

    NBA logo
    NBA

    Celebrities Congratulate LeBron on 30K

    Uninterrupted
    via Uninterrupted

    LeBron Becomes Youngest Ever to Score 30K Points

    NBA logo
    NBA

    LeBron Becomes Youngest Ever to Score 30K Points

    Alec Nathan
    via Bleacher Report