LOS ANGELES, October 19, 2013 — Since the days of St. Vincent-St. Mary’s in Akron fans have watched the story of The Chosen One unfold right before their very eyes. It is hard to believe the reigning four time MVP and two time NBA champ is now entering his 11th season as the road to validation has not been an easy one.
Over the years, it has been a tale of both good and evil, love and hate, heroism and villainy. Ironic now considering James’ recent admission to idolizing both MJ and Iverson; two completely different players on opposite ends of the spectrum.
The light…and the dark.
In the media, Jordan was constantly praised and applauded. Iverson was often criticized and denounced. Jordan was clean-cut and commercial. Iverson had cornrows and tattoos. Both players though, had an unquestionable will to win, and shifted the landscape of NBA and pop culture in their own respective ways.
As a kid growing up in the late ‘90s early ‘00s, Iverson brought an appeal to the NBA that MJ never could. He possessed a sense of realness, and street edginess to him that the corporate polished and manicured Jordan could not replicate. Sure, Jordan was admired for his overall greatness, but Iverson was the player that kids could identify with the most.
Likewise, in the corporate world Jordan would reach heights that Iverson simply could not follow due to his lack of commercial appeal. Perceptively, in King James’ quest to be the greatest ever, he has chosen to embody the best qualities from each of them. Life is ultimately about balance.
From growing up in the projects of Akron, to having dinner with Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, James has successfully straddled the delicate line of appealing to fans from both worlds. Since the days of MJ, no other player has drawn as much interest for the NBA as Lebron. Even with all the accolades and video game-like statistics, it still has not been enough to completely silence his detractors. James has not been without his flaws as well.
Has there ever been a professional athlete in sports history that has suffered more from the emotional roller coaster of public opinion than James? Fans hated him for the self-proclaimed King James nick name, the flashy Hummer, for the $100 million contract with Nike, and association with Jay-Z. Praised him for lifting up the city of Cleveland and for trying to do what has never been done. Fans vilified him after The Decision. Despite all the media scrutiny and obstacles he had eventually overcome, the world would finally witness a king ascend to his rightful place among the NBA elite.
There has never been a player like James in the NBA, so it’s tough to project where his ceiling will be. That has always been part of his appeal. This is a society that is completely enamored with future projections and maximum potential.
Some will say he’s more like Magic, or Oscar Robertson. Others will say he is more of a combination of several different players. The reality of the situation is his true potential still remains somewhat of a mystery, which is a scary thought for the remaining 29 teams in the league.
The Heat will be looking to three-peat as champions this year, but the path will definitely not be easy. If Miami were to make it back to the finals this year, that alone would be four straight finals appearances since the Big 3 joined forces. Win, lose or draw, no other team has done that since the Celtics did it from 1984-1987. A stronger Eastern conference this year with the Pacers, Bulls, and Nets looming should make those percentages even greater. Lebron seems more than up to the challenge.
“My goal is to be the best of all time, and that means maximizing everything I have. And I feel if I can maximize my game, then I can be ranked as if not the greatest, then one of the greatest,” James told ESPN. “Obviously, I have to keep winning. But I’m a winner. I’ve always won. So that’s not a question. And I feel I will continue to win as long as I can stay healthy and be a part of something special.”
If there is anyone that is up to the challenge of making fans all “witnesses” to the impossible, it is King James.
Long live the king!
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