The NBA’s heir apparent look to join the legends hanging in the rafters…an almost mythical result after the lockout…
Walk into the homecoming dance. Greet the smiling teachers happy to see you and as they slowly attempt to shed the outward appearance of chaperones. This night is simplified. Festive. Exciting. The sights are official. Bright lights…small city. Spotted is the homecoming king. The misunderstood All-State athlete tired of the throne his crown never once considered to create. His date is as bored as she is beautiful. Cliche drunk…hiccups and all. Everything swirls without a hitch around them, simply because they are present. Straw dog prerequisites. She’s been here before. The trophy he finds repulsive. He’s loved her and wanted to love her more but she now cheers for him exclusively after the score. She is no longer his muse guiding him through Sternwood Forest. You, the fabulous freshman are now the growing root amongst the jealous trees and walk in with the cutest girl who grew up next door. She’s talented and precocious. Sexy and hell yes you know it. This is your moment. The moment homecoming court current sought three years before. A metaphor. In what is deemed most popular, you see your future…she has the most beautiful eyes in disguise. You grab her ever willing hand oh so electric and jump with eyes wide shut on the never turning back dance floor.
Don’t get this wrong. Consider it a fairy tale smile as the 2011-2012 NBA walk is a mere 7 steps away from escaping lockout hell. There is one…now Wilt’s Goliath…trying out of his mind to avoid the omnipresent heat and another navigating the flames simply with his mother’s purposeful smile and armed with the thunder bolts of the legendary Ice Man.
All LeBron wanted to do was have a signing day. The one ESPN shows every year. When he saw the burning jerseys his mind said oh shit. Did I really deserve this and why? I am but 25. I committed no crime. The decision to have this production was not only mine. Why must I only do the time? I need answers.
Dan Gilbert and the city of Cleveland made hundreds of millions while LeBron was a member of the Cavaliers. Blueprints for casinos were envisioned to one day be patronized by those downtown after an assumed Cavaliers victory. Happy glasses clinked everywhere during LeBron dominated conversation. The Barley House was packed every night and so was every Harry Buffalo, but to LeBron it all became similar to a shoulder dystocia. Something was holding him back from achieving what damn sure should be a distinct part of his legacy…an elusive NBA championship. He also wanted to take advantage of his existence. An all encompassing gift and unfortunately just as much of a curse. An Akron rock stuck in a Cleveland hard place. Something very few of us can ever understand. Folks scrutinized him for wanting to be a billionaire. As if the thought of achieving financial wealth is simply explained away by articulating a common definition of greed…monolithic and not of nuance. When he left, Cleveland became a city locked in dystopia masked only by his earlier presence. Those people are forever rocked by his departure and many will use him as a focal point for anger present before his birth in December of 1984. He would have been blamed no matter what was ESPN done or generally unapologetic media said, and to some, the catharsis will never materialize. The city is in trouble financially. LeBron James was its hope. One of the greatest to ever touch a basketball is gone from them and also all the attractive spoils some find therapeutic along with him. Try that burden on for size when you’re 25.
He bounced and I don’t blame him. It was a choice he alone must live with. It’s not as easy as saying you wouldn’t have done the same regardless of what Michael (Chicago acquired Rodman), Chuck (forced a trade to Houston to join Dream and Drexler) or Magic and Larry (look at their powerful teams) said after playing in a simpler age where their combined discretion wasn’t scrutinized nowhere near that of a LeBron microscope.
Rocking South Beach linens walking along the greatest of off season romantic sand. Eva Mendes beauty marks and her down to earth goofy yet effective style. 19 5 star hotels and cars sounding the best of jets. A paradise with a mirage you can touch and actually have for your own. Everyone goes that way if they could…in your twenties. Miami is a city where stars can hide because their lifestyles shine (vid of his rides) just as bright as the strangers in the car driving next to them.
A Finals loss to Cuban’s Mavericks by Dwyane Wade, LeBron and Chris Bosh. The nation rejoiced. James underperformed and the world attacked in ad hominem waves. 4th quarter jokes. Receding hairlines. Cleveland holdover disgusting stuff of his mother. Batman and Robin bullshit as if no one great ever played with another supreme. Anything to diminish his total once in a lifetime talent and distort his being as a mythical and irrationally debased Wilt’s Goliath. He’s become this monster just because he took advantage of a free agent paradigm the current CBA lopped off at the head?
But…he’s back in the Finals once again as one of latent leadership super value just so you know. LeBron James is to Kevin Durant as Julius Erving was to Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. They had to fight past Doc to become champion and now Durant must do the same.
Born in September of 1984 and the DMV raised him well. Michael Beasely childhood memories. KD is as real as it gets. His skills developed in an area thriving with cultural confidence (different than money) and the perfect compliment to how family support spurred him to eventually become great. The tragic reason he wears 35.
A number retired after a year at Texas you don’t mess with. Double doubles galore. Baller, but cut from USA Basketball Olympic gold medal dreams (fortunately he’ll get another shot this summer). From Seattle to Oklahoma City…a city inhabiting the most oil slicked billionaires per capita in America, so that misnomer of OKC being the true definition of a small town does not exactly fit does it? How many times have you heard during his career that Durant is what every professional athlete should be? He is not threatening. Look at his clothes. Drives a 2011 Camaro SS and a GMC minivan. He fits huh? He’s so humble. Why is that even relevant? It’s as if the professional lot are a disaffected bunch to be discarded as general nuisances. Simply not true. He is the evolution of George Gervin. The Iceman cometh again. 3 scoring titles. Defeated also by the Mavericks in 2011. Couldn’t close games. Durant learned. His fire burned. Can’t stand losing. Eliminated three teams winning recent titles (Mavs, Lakers, Spurs) on a path to 2012 Finals.
He was the star of the lockout. Played flag football with the “normal folk”. He’s media friendly. One of the common people. For now. He hasn’t had to go through what LeBron has experienced. Much less hoopla coming into the league and now he’s still having focused fun. LeBron seems to be a lot older because of two previous Finals trips resulting in losses and a very much scrutinized meltdown vs. Boston when he was in Cleveland. Durant’s team is just now becoming an accomplished winner. I see him as the introvert looking to become the extrovert in Oklahoma City. LeBron I view differently. He’s the extrovert looking to hide in Miami, but are they similar?
A lot similar than what you may think…
I asked Greg Anthony during the NBA TV Finals conference call yesterday to compare Durant and James. He responded: “In a way, I think they are more alike than they are different. Both guys are so team oriented; both guys understand that they win when their teammates play well. There have been times when they have both had to take the game over and they both have a skill set that is conducive to that. I think they have far more similarities than not. They have great basketball IQ’s. They understand in order for them to win, other guys have to be in a position to play well.”
Yes, everything must be congruent. All that talk of fans leaving because of the lockout and yet you still are here to watch two apéritifs before the Finals storm. Societal wine glasses shaking and spilling, confused and not willing to see beyond a jaded popular thought. Thunder plus Heat equals an artful sun shower to be admired not demonized. Simply let the Finals rain on playing kids stomping through poisonous puddles of contentious adult misery. These are not the aforementioned straw dogs cast aside in a lazy myopic current pro athlete context…envied and marginalized to every definition of insecure measure. These are more Jupiter and Zeus as they should have been written, with obvious adroit and talented yet human qualities far more relevant than what is permitted to be culturally accepted. There is color in what have many today erroneously painted as dry black and white good vs. evil. Enough is enough. Appreciate greatness while your mind is able to clearly see. Pull back the curtains and maybe just maybe, you’ll get rid of the antiquated stage fright deterring you from a true pro athletic understanding.