I know LeBron James has a catchy nickname, “King James,” and now ESPN is running a segment called “Courting the King,” following a city-by-city breakdown of his potential courtship in free agency.
But what exactly makes LeBron James a “king?"
In the state of Ohio, and especially in the surrounding areas of Cleveland and Akron, James is a king due to his stature as a quality homegrown talent of heroic proportions. In high school, James soared above the rest, not only in size, stature, and talent, but also in terms of rings to go with his Ohio household alias, “King James.”
High school championships are one thing, but an NBA championship is a totally different story. Unfortunately for James, he has not won a ring in the league yet, and that story is still yet to be written. With that being said, after seven seasons playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers, he has only achieved personal success on and off the court and generated revenue for himself and the Cavaliers.
The King has not conquered the mountaintop thus far, and during the 2010 playoffs, his attitude and demeanor with his teammates for pregame antics seemed distracting to him and others. James then took his on-court persona to another level with his distinctive displeasure and disregard toward the coaching staff during timeouts.
All of these were actions of someone who already had his foot out the door, not of a “king” or champion.
NBA Most Valuable Player awards and All-Star teams are nice to add to a stat sheet, but the ultimate goal in competitive sports is to win a championship. And for LeBron, a single championship will not be anywhere close to the all-time great players he's constantly compared to: Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Earvin “Magic” Johnson.
LeBron is not even in the ballpark yet.
Sure, James is a great specimen on the basketball court, but compared to other free agents, Dwyane Wade should be the most highly sought-after free agent due to a couple of factors: an NBA championship ring in 2006, as well as being named NBA Finals MVP that same year—two characteristics that “King James” cannot claim to his name.
Sure, having a lucrative Nike shoe contract is a considerable achievement for anyone who is 25 years old, but money and fame should not be James’ driving force in his basketball career. Moreover, at this moment, when a possible new chapter in both his life and his playing career are about to commence, the last thing James should be considering is the biggest paycheck or marketability.
Money and fame can lead to happiness in life. However, in a life that's driven through the sport of basketball, championships are a must. To be marked down in the history books as the greatest of all time, or “The Chosen One,” as LeBron has tattooed on his back, rings on your hand and championship banners in the city you played for are the ultimate goals.
To add malice to that statement, just take a look at the great Bill Russell and Michael Jordan. Russell has the NBA Finals MVP trophy named in his honor, and Jordan has a statue outside of Chicago’s United Center. Thus far, LeBron James has his own shoe deal, while Russell and Jordan have 17 NBA championships combined.
James’ career to this point is unfinished, and at the young age of 25, he still has an abundance of writing left to do in this book of a king. The question is: Have we anointed a man a "king" while he's still a prince?