If LeBron James decided that he would call an end to his career in the Association at the completion of the Playoffs, he would be a lock to make the Basketball Hall Of Fame, as soon as he is eligible. The Miami Heat forward, collected his fourth NBA MVP Award on Sunday, his second straight, giving him the award four times out of the last five years. He is the one player currently active in the Association, that has a realistic chance of overtaking Michael Jordan, in the eyes of the fans; proclaimed the best player in NBA history.
The Northeast Ohio native, once again had a spectacular regular season, recognized for it in the voting for the award, as he missed being a unanimous choice, by a single vote. Last sprig he was able to get the two-ton gorilla off his back, when the Heat defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA Finals and once again his team has a good chance of playing in the Championship round for the third straight year.
One can not deny the talent or the ability that LBJ has shown during his ten years on the hard-courts of the NBA. The perennial All-Star will not even turn 29-years-old, until next December, so barring a major injury he has most likely yet to have reached his peak. The next three seasons, the small forward could take his game to an even higher level; as the ages of 29-31, are generally acknowledged to be a pro athletes most productive years.
Although anyone with knowledge of the Association, has to give LeBron James, credit and respect for what he has accomplished on the court, it does not necessarily mean that those sentiments have to be extended to the man himself. Although one would be delusional not to acknowledge his talents as a player; that is where my respect for James ends. As for my having respect for him as a man; those feelings evaporated after he deserted the Cleveland Cavaliers and I can not envision a way at this point for him to win my respect back.
I am certain that at this point, many are rolling their eyes and wondering when I will allow this issue to die; it has been three seasons now and most NBA observers have moved on. Time unfortunately has not healed the wounds in my case; my anger and disappointment at the callous way that he left the team, after years of stating that his “Family,” the rest of the Cavaliers roster relied on him. The night he was taken with the first pick of the 2003 NBA Draft, he made a vow to the fans, that he would “Light up Cleveland, like Vegas,” a promise that remained unfulfilled when he went to Miami.
Had it ended right then and there, perhaps I could feel differently at this point; however that was far from the case. James embraced the venom from the fans and took on the persona of a villain in Pro Wrestling. He seemed to go out of his way to antagonize and take a swipe at a team and a city, that had treated him as Royalty his first seven campaigns in the NBA. Perhaps the cruelest thing he said was after the Heat had defeated the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals; James told reporters that he was glad to finally be teamed up with players that “Don’t Die Down In The Moment.” Karma would repay him in full as it would be James who was unable to get it done in the Finals against the Dallas Mavericks, which led to the Mavericks winning the NBA Title.
It was far from the first time, that James had collapsed in a key situation; as his performances against the Orlando Magic in the 2009 Eastern Finals and against the Boston Celtics in the 2010 semis; was the reason his team did not advance. Rather than accept the early demise of his club as his responsibility, he walked away and joined Dwyane Wade, a player who had already earned himself a ring and along with Chris Bosh, they were able to do what James never could on his own; that elusive title.
Although LeBron James deserves congratulations and respect for what he has done as a player; it will never undo the way he handled himself from the Summer of 2010, until his team lost in the Finals. Unfortunately his actions will always influence how I perceive his career, despite whatever he accomplishes.