The New Lebron?

Now that Lebron has won a title the narrative around him has started to change.  Many in the media are now talking about how Lebron is more mature, more of a leader, how he took control of his team this year.  He's handled the victory with humility and grace, and he's getting some deserved credit for that.  As Dan Le Batard accurately pointed out it would have been very human for Lebron to be defiant in winning his first title after all he has been through.  Le Batard also said if he were in Lebron's shoes he'd "have a hard time not putting that ring on my middle finger," a pretty good line.  The truth is it would be hard to blame Lebron for flaunting the title and being a little arrogant, but he hasn't done that.  So he does deserve some credit for that.   

To suggest Lebron is different is really sophmoric.  This is how the media generally controls the narrative, and we the public usually buy into it hook, line and sinker.  Now Lebron is different, he's grown up, he's more mature, and that is why he finally won.  But the media is just playing the result.  Truth is Lebron is being portrayed as different, better, more mature because he won.  Seriously, think about it hard.  What did Lebron do differently?  He played better down the stretch, he dominated a couple of really important games in the playoffs (game 4 at Indiana and game 6 at Boston), and he won the Finals MVP.  The difference between Lebron this year and last year?  He played better, and he won.  That's it. 

Nobody looks as mature, grown-up, or like a great leader as much when they are losing as opposed to when they are winning.  All of those intangibles don't get noticed when you lose, or at least they haven't had much of an effect, have they?  The great example of his new-found leadership people are using is when Lebron told Lionel Chalmers to calm down when he was celebrating a little too early in the Finals.  Seriously?  Lebron spent the better part of the playoffs screaming at Chalmers.  How do you think that would have been portrayed if the Heat lost?  Same old Lebron, doesn't know how to win, immature.  Screaming at his young teammates is not leadership.  But when they win, all of those things are considered great leadership.  The narrative changes after the result.

Think about this - since The Decision and then the initial night-club style introductory press conference in Miami, what have the Heat done to be unlikeable?  Look, if you hate the Heat and Lebron because of the way they came together and how they did it, fine.  You have that right.  But since they started playing together, what have they done to make people hate them?  They play hard, they play as a team, they are unselfish.  They aren't arrogant, they sacrifice for each other, they haven't gotten into any trouble.  They don't seem to have major character issues.  If you give the team a chance, they are actually very likeable.  They remind me a little bit of the Yankees Dynasty in the late '90s.  If you forget that you hate them because they are the Yankees, they are actually a team that is hard not to like. 

Lebron came into the league at 18 years old out of high school, with Sports Illustrated putting him on the cover as The Chosen One.  He's avoided any major problems off the court and character issues.  He's been mature, selfless and team-oriented.  He plays hard, brings it every night and seems to genuinely care about his teammates.  He's donated a lot of his money to charity and has a charitable foundation off the court.  In fact, he's handled being a millionaire global superstar, anointed as a teenager, a lot better than most would given the same circumstances.

And the way he's handled his first championship?  This isn't a new, more mature Lebron.  This is the way Lebron has been throughout his career.  He does have an ego (how could you not?), and sometimes he may react with a little arrogance to things.  But the way he's handled everything in totality since he was 18 years old has been remarkable and if we would eliminate all of the noise, we might recognize that. 

Ask yourself this question - do you find it odd that there seem to be a lot more NBA fans of Allen Iverson than there are of Lebron James?  I do.  I have no problem with AI or people who like him, but he sure displayed some characteristics that you would expect people to hate during his career.  And despite that and the fact that he never won anything he was one of the most popular players in the NBA in his prime. 

I'm surprised we haven't celebrated Lebron, what he's done, and how he's gone about it a lot more than we have.  When his career is over I'm not sure what will be more remarkable - Lebron's numbers and accomplishments, or the silly prism through which we looked at the first half of his NBA life. 


 

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  • 6/27/2012 5:21 PM Edmond wrote:
    I agree. Give credit to Lionel Chalmers, Mark Miller and Shawn Battier though. Without them, the narrative stays the same.
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