Oh, LeBron…how the mighty have fallen.
In less than a year, LeBron James has gone from totally beloved across the globe, to completely despised (everywhere but Miami).
It wasn’t too long ago that people were referring to LeBron James as the saviour of the NBA…the chosen one that we had all been waiting for to pick up where Michael left off and inspire a new generation of players and fans. And, who could blame them? LeBron James was the complete package.
Even at 18-years-old, fresh out of high school, LeBron was a monster on the court. In his first ever NBA game he chipped in for 25 points, tossed out nine assists, grabbed six boards, and had 4 steals; all of this while shooting a totally insane 60 percent from the floor. Sure, it was against Sacramento, but this was back when the Kings still had some clout and Chris Webber and Peja Stojakovich were still forces to be reckoned with.
LeBron burst onto the NBA scene with a vengeance and just like Grant Hill, Kobe Bryant, Jerry Stackhouse, and even Ron Harper (WTF?), the comparisons to Michael Jordan began, as the individual accolades piled up.
Rookie of the Year
Olympic Gold Medalist
But LeBron didn’t just make things happen on the court…like Michael, he was inspiring. Watching LeBron on the court was an event, because you were always asking yourself, “What is he gonna do next?!”. There LeBron was carrying the Cavs on his back and making the totally impossible seem absolutely achievable, night in and night out. Here was this kid from Akron, Ohio, making it happen for his hometown team…and we were all pulling for him, hoping that he could make it happen for the Cavs, just like Michael Jordan had for the Bulls.
But then came “The Decision”…and that changed everything for LeBron…and for fans around the NBA too. Suddenly, LeBron James seemed mortal. Here he was saying that he didn’t want to do it all by himself anymore…that he needed help…and that he was turning his back on the Cavaliers and “taking his talents to South Beach”.
Where Michael Jordan stuck it out with the Bulls and refused to admit defeat, LeBron James essentially told us that he was sick of waiting and was moving on because it was too hard to do what Michael had done. When LeBron left Cleveland for Miami, he lost any hope of ever taking the torch from Michael Jordan as the best to ever play the game…no matter what he accomplishes with the Heat.
Just think if Jordan had left Chicago to join Sir Charles in Phoenix, Patrick Ewing in New York, or Magic Johnson in L.A. Would he be held in the same high regard that he is today? Would he still stand as the benchmark for success in basketball? Would he still be considered the greatest to ever play the game? I don’t think so.
Michael Jordan became the inspiring player that he is because the Bulls were HIS team, and he did whatever needed to be done in order to turn them into a winner. And now, his stats, his accomplishments, his awards and everything he has done for the game of basketball as a player, all stand as a testament to Michael Jordan’s claim to the head of the NBA monarchy.
Even if LeBron wins six championships (or more), even if he averages a triple double for every season for the rest of his career, and wins the MVP award five more times, LeBron has lost the hearts of the fans…and without that support, he will forever live in the shadow of Michael Jordan.