I know, and I get it…
The LeBron James column writing party (indirectly sponsored by Dan Gilbert) ended 72 hours ago.
Fortunately for me, this is L.A., where 6pm means tomorrow afternoon and I’ll touch base with you next week means I’ll most likely never call you again.
To be honest with you, I never wanted to write this column for two reasons:
(1) How much can you write about LeBron James that hasn’t already been written, re-written, recycled, re-recycled and re-tweeted 683,000 times? It’s like trying to make a joke about Anthony Weiner. We get it…
(2) See reason #1.
The only problem? When it comes to the striking mystery of LeBron James, I don’t think we really get it at all…
Since James’ quietly sat down at the humble pie banquet the Mavs held in his honor last week, 99.7% of the stories published in the 48-hours that followed resonated one singular focus: LeBron James, with the stage perfectly set up for him, crumbled under the pressure of the NBA Finals.
Is that true? Eh, maybe…
The problem with LeBron James has absolutely nothing to do with LeBron James. It has everything to do with our mostly unfounded expectations of who LeBron James is supposed to be.
We do this all the time.
When someone, or something, comes along that we don’t quite understand, we instantaneously try to mold that person, or thing, into something that makes sense to us. We psychologically eliminate the mystery around everything in our lives because, quite honestly, who wants to see or experience something that makes absolutely no sense?
Our entire learning system is built on this very concept. Why can we read the definition of a word and not understand what it means until we read the sample sentence?
LeBron James is that word, only there is no sentence provided for us to contextualize it in. So we made one up…
LeBron James is like Michael Jordan, only a better passer.
LeBron James is like Magic Johnson, only a better scorer.
LeBron James is like Kobe Bryant, only without the clutch gene.
On and on we go trying to solve the mystery by interjecting sample sentences that were never there to begin with. This is so hard for us to swallow because we have never seen an athlete like LeBron James before. It’s completely unprecedented.
We can’t comprehend why he isn’t putting up 30/30/30 games and forcing David Stern to completely change the NBA rulebook. We are dumbfounded when he swings the ball to Mario Chalmers like a fat kid who still can’t believe he made the JV team. We are offended when he refers to himself as the King, yet falls so enormously short of living up to that patronizing title.
We love him because we hate him, and we hate him because we feel like we’re watching a guy who inherited $100 million, only to see him turn around and lose it in a single card game in Vegas.
The only thing we really know for sure is that LeBron doesn’t fall into any already-precedented truth that takes away the mystery behind his persona.
He will never be Scottie Pippen.
He will never be Kobe Bryant.
He will never be Michael Jordan.
At this rate, he’ll never get to be LeBron James… and worst of all, if you were to ask him, I would guess that not even he knows who that is.