Last night, Lebron James had serious doubts about there being a game seven in the 2011 NBA Finals. From his perspective, he tried exceptionally hard, but things just didn't work out the way he wanted. He started fast, pushing the tempo, dribbling in for replay-worthy layups, then he used the defense's focus on him to create plays for his teammates. In his mind, he isn't the bad guy.
Today, Lebron James is having serious doubts about there being a dynasty down in Miami. From his perspective, he solved the puzzle, however it proved to be a bit more complex than he had initially thought.
He hooked up with two big stars, and management assembled a team of role players around them. In his mind, he had discovered exactly how hard it was to win a championship, and it only made sense that if the team around him was better, then winning would be assured.
And before you confuse this for another one of those rants that's designed to throw Lebron James under the nearest bus, let me clarify: Lebron James is not to blame. Lebron James never wanted to be Michael Jordan any more than any other kid growing up in the television era, virtually raised by the high-flying images and Gatorade commercials.
All the young kids wanted to be like Mike, so much so that it became a slogan. James just happened to be one among the millions that had the physical talent to actually pull it off.
So what happened is of course what usually happens: people told him things and insisted that those ideas were true. They dangled their own dreams in front of him and when he didn't deny them, didn't shake his head no, they crowned him King. The story of the kid from Akron that would rebuild what Jordan destroyed wrote itself. People played music for him, so he danced. They printed shirts telling the world to witness, so he believed. What he never did was stop to confide in anyone what he really wanted, nor did we ask.
At least, he never said until he had that hour-long special, and even then none of us understood what he was trying to say. It just didn't make sense, how easily he slid into place behind Wade, how happy he was with less points and more assists, how relieved he seemed to have someone to depend on when things got difficult. After all, he was supposed to be the Chosen One. One, not Three.
And after he upended those expectations, and especially after he lost in game 6, we were all too happy to be angry with him for ruining our dream. But maybe, just maybe, he can't carry a team because he doesn't want to. Maybe all the physical talent in the world cannot make up for a single drop of killer instinct when the game is on the line. Maybe this will be the beginning of the story and not the end: he's fallen as far as he can, but he's still young, with a talented team and committed staff around him, there's nowhere to go but up. So maybe we ought to just let him have his own dreams.
Lebron James is not Michael Jordan, nor is he Kobe Bryant or Magic Johnson. Or even Scottie Pippen. Lebron James is Lebron James, not the second of something we've seen before, but the first of something none of us likely ever imagined.