LeBron James is perhaps the most physically talented and gifted basketball player since Chicago’s No. 23.
We marvel at his visionary passing skills, overlook his inaccurate jumper and promptly declare it only a matter of time before he joins the pantheon of the all-time greats.
And it might not be entirely wrong to do so, because we tend to hold athletes to entirely different standards of accountability. The morality of their actions is always expounded and the slightest infraction is pounced upon with glee for the whole world to ridicule.
The pattern continues. We offer them a chance at redemption...a chance not to right their wrongs but a chance to win. When they succeed, we conveniently forget and inevitably forgive.
There are some whose cycles are complete, the tryst in Colorado long forgotten and the purple and gold glitter now fresh in memory.
There are others still in the redemption process, searching desperately for success on the field because somehow, they know it will cast a translucent veil upon their shortcomings.
These acts will eventually enter the realm of the subconscious, the kind that never leave your mind, yet never come forward unless society needs to be reminded again.
Wait for another Steelers Super Bowl. Wait for another Green Jacket draped over Tiger. Just Wait.
Do we place far too much emphasis on winning? Yes, we do. And that’s where the LeBron paradox rests.
If we value winning to an almost-manic extent, then why deal LeBron the short end of the stick when he wanted to win, win easy and win many times over?
Take away “The Decision.” Assume it never happened.
Would there still be critics questioning his ability to be ‘the man’ and not ‘coat-tail’ or ‘Pippen’ his way to a championship? Yes.
Was there an easier way out of it? Yes.
An easy way? No.
But it doesn’t get any easier. Miami is a 50 percent team with glaring weaknesses and a worrying possibility of Wade and James not being able to complement each other. With Riley surveying the weak returns of his spoils, the rumor mill has gotten heavy with the disharmony between Coach Spoelstra and his star-studded cast.
Much was made of Wade’s glaring statement that while Coach Spoelstra was in fact his coach, he wasn’t “his guy.”
Much was also made of James’ criticism of his minutes, his lack of seriousness and Bosh’s desire to “chill.”
It needs to stop. The accountability has to set in. The offensive playbook can’t draw up plays if Wade continues to shoot at 20 percent or James continues to turn the ball over and settle for convenient jumpers that clank off the rim.
Miami needs to win. Not now, but in June.
And if they do, we’ll all play our roles to forget just a little bit.
With another championship, maybe we’ll forget a little more. It’s just the way we’ve been structured.
It’s why, for all the gaudy records that Chamberlain put up, he’s only an unarguable Top Five NBA great. Not the greatest.
With winning comes forgiveness. Or maybe it’s forgetfulness.