The career arc of LeBron James has been fascinating
I know it’s been a decade but was thinking yesterday that there probably hasn’t been an athlete who has come into a mainstream North American professional sports league with as many expectations and as much scrutiny and, yes, pressure, than LeBron James.
And exceeded them all and then some.
James, here tonight with the Heat to play the Raptors is, to me, one of the more fascinating case studies in recent pro sports and it’s been a terrific decade to watch.
Here was a teen with all the pressure in the world on him, a magazine cover boy as a high schooler, an international phenomenon as, really, a kid. In this media day and age, we watched every step of his maturation process, of his athletic development, of his professional behavour and, for the most part, he has been exemplary and I don’t know if many others could have handled it.
Yes, The Decision was ill-advised and he knew it, admitted it and moved on.
But other than that blip – and I will never deny an employee the right to decide where he wants to work when the opportunity to pick comes up – James has comported himself as well as anyone could have wanted or imagined. He has answered the call of country, won championships, made franchises and teammates better and not been caught up in really even the most minor of off-court controversies.
He deserves credit for surviving in this day and age without a major slip; everything he does is immediately dissected by the proliferation of pundits who track every waking minute of the pop culture and athletic icons we pay so much – too much – attention to.
I don’t imagine that it is, it’d be quite understandable if there was a snap every now and then but there hasn’t been and that is to his everlasting credit.
He is, I’d say, what we want our very best professional athletes to be.
Now, I don’t know where you’d rank James on the list of all-time greats and that would be one of the all-time stool discussions, wouldn’t it?
Where he fits with Michael Jordan or Oscar Robertson or Bill Russell or Magic Johnson or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or Kobe Bryant or any of the rest of the sport’s icons is a purely a personal and subjective thing; it’s a wonderful discussion in which there is no right or wrong, just a list of characteristics adding up to whatever order you’d want.
I wouldn’t have him as the greatest ever – not yet, at least because he is not done and I think time and context is necessary – but if you threw a blanket over him and Robertson, Jordan and Russell you’d have a pretty good four-way tie, wouldn’t you? There seems to be far more nuance to his game now, it’s not just the raw power of early in his career, he is a better shooter and brilliant passer and seemingly totally content to share the spotlight and fully capable of dominating individually whenever the mood strikes or the need arises.
And what he’s done and how he’s handled himself in this day and age of unspeakable scrutiny and the need for the instant gratification of fans has been quite something.
That’s good, isn’t it? Well, it’s not good because it’s another trip away from loved ones but …
It’s Good Charlotte, right?
Crazy week ahead with lots of games and a ridiculously early flight tomorrow so we need to make one slight change.
The weakly, er, weekly chat has to move to Wednesday at noon from some hotel room in Charlotte because Thursday at noon I’ll be getting ready to get on an airplane for Indy.
So set your alarms, dump all the difficult things at work, delete the e-mails that you don’t want to deal with and stop by, would you?
Thanks. I could use the company.
I have a feeling this isn’t the last time this is going to happen and I certainly don’t plan to make it a habit but …
This whole Steve Nash-to-the-Raptors junk from yesterday represents – sadly – the thin edge of the wedge.
There no desire to even think about the possibility here in Toronto – and you have to just trust me on the sources for that emphatic denial – and I just know that other “rumours” are going to pop up probably weekly between now and the trade deadline in February.
I’ll let you know right now that I will ignore 99 per cent of them, I likely won’t waste my time or yours even worrying about them and I certainly don’t plan to waste space here or in the paper dealing with them.
Because everyone connected with the NBA has known since July that Masai might make a series of moves once he figures out what this team is like, the HOTH will become a very popular dumping ground for all kinds of imagined transactions.
You know me, you know I hate rumours and fake trades because they seem quite a waste of time so if there’s something real, we’ll pursue it. If it’s a figment of the imagination, we’ll ignore it.
So at various times yesterday, I had a little nectarine and some salad and my body didn’t reject either so maybe there is something to this health thing?
(We’ll get more on Bosh later which gives you a reason to check out the Dino-bytes when I hopefully have them done around noon).
I’m reading the stuff about the TOD and them not making qualifying offers to a handful of free agents and what that means and, man, am I ever glad I don’t have to deal with the intricacies of that CBA.
Not sure which of the four North American pro leagues have the easiest free agent period to figure out; I’m obviously not that familiar with three of them but if I had to rank them from easiest to most difficult, it’d probably go like this
It seems to me that it’s all over in about 10 hours in the middle of the summer. They open the doors, guys sign, there’s a huge flurry of activity for about a week and then everyone goes on vacation.
I hate – HATE – that week or so when they can talk but not sign because it seems to always create an extra level of work when we don’t really need it but it also stretches things out to a relatively calm pace.
I guess the thing is, there doesn’t seem to be an opening of the market and that makes it hard to track, no?
Isn’t just about everyone a free agent every year? With restructured contracts and non-guaranteed deals and a hard cap, it makes it difficult to figure out just who is a free agent, let alone where they’ll land and why.
And don’t even get me started on the football transfer window and the selling of players.