An Unlikely Underdog

LeBron wants to win our love, but is that a losing game?
Share |
LeBron Welles

Original artwork by Matt Moroz. [Full size]

Over the last eighteen or so months, I have been as firmly entrenched in the anti-LeBron camp as anyone, outside of some of the scary dudes burning their #23 jerseys the night of “The Decision.” I got more than my fill of LeBrondenfreude throughout the 2009-10 season, culminating in a Finals meltdown more skin-crawling than the most cringe-based moments in comedy history. Put LeBron’s lonely walk back to the locker room after Game 6 up against a neck-braced Alan Partridge calling the hotel front desk to request that the pornography be reinstated on his TV? James is finally a champion.

But even my righteous wrath has its limits. I wanted to like the guy again because there’s something inherently appealing about him. And he wanted me to like him back! James has been in image rehab mode of late, telling USA Today that “there’s no villain bone in my body” in an apparent tribute to Yogi Berra (or perhaps Norm Crosby). I put away the long knives and started watching the Heat without prejudice, and within a couple games it was straight up fun watching LBJ do what he does. LeBron at his best is unlike like anyone else at their best. Like Shoals said in his piece last week—and there is no end to how much The Riddle of LeBron can be dissected—James the player can be bigger than the game itself.

The problems start when it’s clear that LeBron still hasn’t managed to shake the baggage that has shadowed him ever since last year’s flameout. Just check his body language—when things are going well he’s the perfect mix of grace and aggression, knowing when to press and when to let the game flow to him. It’s a different story during the tough times. It’s more than frustration. James actually looks helpless, like he’s on the receiving end of some inevitable cosmic injustice he’s all too aware of. Contrast this with Jordan’s cocky pre-determinism or Kobe’s ticked off imperiousness. When a call went against them you got some version of, “Don’t you know who I am?” Whistle LeBron and you get something more like, “Uh, you guys know who I am, right?” And this is the best player in the league!

Think back to that ridiculous pep rally from last summer—underneath the Leno-esque low-fives and the huge, overarching wrongness of the event, it’s easy to lose sight of how visibly uncomfortable LeBron seemed to be. Bosh is in full Arthur Janov mode and Wade seems to be proud that he made the free agents come to him, but James seems weirdly detached throughout much of the celebrating, like he knows this isn’t why he went through all the hassle of leaving Cleveland behind. And even though his play has been mostly stellar since that debacle, it feels like he’s always one bad stretch away from turning back into that bundle of insecurity.

James might be the first superstar who half expects us to consider him an underdog on some level—which is an insane conceit, but is it surprising? LeBron’s game is built on the ability to do literally every aspect of the game really well, but is he the best at any one thing? Not by a long shot. Durant is a better shooter, Melo is a better scorer, Griffin is (probably) a better in-game dunker, Kidd is a better passer. James couldn’t ever become the best at any one thing. In his defense, when you can do it all, shouldn’t you actually try to do it all?

It’s hard to imagine an infinite amount of skill as a handicap to winning, but the concept of LeBron as dominant underdog tracks better if you think of him as the Orson Welles of basketball. Welles was also ultimately too talented for his own good, reinventing movies with Citizen Kane but just as quickly bailing on The Magnificent Ambersons editing because some other flight of fancy knocked him off target. Ambersons paid the price—no matter what anybody tells you it’s nowhere near as good as Kane, no way!—and that was just the start; the dead ends and detours and missteps piled up throughout Welles’s life and we’re left with a body of work comprised of too-short bursts of perfection neighbored by longer stretches of disappointment. Yet is there a bigger martyr in the history of movies than Orson Welles? Yes, he created the chaos far too often and knocked himself off course more than anybody else. But did it because he simply couldn’t help it—like James, Welles did it all for no other reason than because he could.

James made it clear as this season began that he hoped to get back to having fun with basketball again, like when he was a kid. That makes sense and it’s refreshing to hear on-court LeBron do some talking for once. But the problems arise with LeBron when he’s not playing basketball, or even when the ball goes dead. That’s when the real world inevitably creeps back in and things like "The Decision" and talk of winning eight championships enter the picture. Off-court LeBron makes the mess and on-court LeBron pays the price. James is stuck on an endless media crawl trying to convince the world that he’s not a bad guy. And is he wrong? His biggest crime wasn’t drowning a dog or beating the shit out of someone—it was being bad at working the media. Yeah, he was bad at it. Really really REALLY bad. Maybe the worst! But that’s all he did wrong, and if I—the Bill Russell of holding grudges!—can let LeBron back in, you can too.

I’m even fine with the notion of the loudmouth who jumped ship winning a championship or two, because if LeBron can win it all it’s because of his talent, not his competitive spirit or his extra gear or whatever you want to call it. The guy is never going to possess whatever it is that Jordan has—fire? Mental illness?—so if the stars align and he wins it all, it will happen because he was the best player on the court.

Hopefully on-court LeBron keeps doing the talking because that’s the only LeBron that matters. I keep coming back to the notion of liking LeBron. But what is really likeable about him? He’s ultimately a pastiche of what every successful athlete needs to be to maximize their value in the marketplace, and you’d have to be thick as a brick to not see that stuff from a mile away. The main thing I like about him—maybe the only thing I like about him—is his game. That’s the only LeBron I will continue to pay attention to and the only one I will continue to believe in.


Share |

Comments

the bench for the Nets as a fat, sweaty 47 year old and helping them win the championship despite never moving more than nine feet in a game.. .taxi from delhi to jaipur

This is a great post. I like this topic.This site has lots of advantage.I found many interesting things from this site. It helps me in many ways.Thanks for posting this again....how do you buy ig followers

Great Article it its really informative and innovative keep us posted with new updates. its was really valuable. thanks a lot. do follow blog comments

bloggers made just right content material as you did, the net shall be much more helpful than ever before.
blog commenting here

top eleven token hack For many people this is important, so check out my profile: clash of clans cheats gems

bench for the Nets as a fat, sweaty 47 year old and helping them win the championship despite never moving more than nine feet in a game.. הסעות מלוטון ללונדון

ch for the Nets as a fat, sweaty 47 year old and helping them win the championship despite never moving more tha
http://www.amazon.com/Mi40x-Review-PDF-Free-Download/dp/B00T7W9V2K/

Your blogs and information attracts me to come back again n again.dental implants leicester

I found so many interesting stuff in your blog especially its
discussion. From the tons of comments on your articles, I guess I am not
the only one having all the enjoyment here! keep up the good work..Hill Climb Racing Cheats

Teilnehmern dafür die besten Beurteilungen mit 100% Erfolgsgarantie. . movers and packers in pune

I found this is an informative and interesting post so i think so it is very useful and knowledgeable. I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article.....venus factor reviews

controls has been accompanied by a rise in power of these regional stakeholders in the decision-making process.
eat stop eat book

I just want to let you know that I just check out your site and I find it very interesting and informative. I can't wait to read lots of your posts...

Draftkings Promo Code

time on your blog. I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles. Keep up the good work.
Update your website ranking

I am really enjoying reading your well written articles. It looks like you spend a lot of effort and time on your blog. I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles. Keep up the good work...venus factor reviews

loved reading your blog. It was very well authored and easy to undertand. Unlike additional blogs I have read which are really not tht good. I also found your posts very interesting. In fact after reading, I had to go show it to my friend and he ejoyed it as well! cheap price blog comments

This was because Montreal was experiencing a mass emigration of English speakers after the Parti Quebecois had come to power. Toronto was the Second City (thus, for example, SCTV) until relatively recently. Regardless, there's no question that Toronto had taken the top spot by the early 1990s and it was a mistake. obat peninggi badan

ff the bench for the Nets as a fat, sweaty 47 year old and helping them win the championship despite never movi mobilehomesforsale.com

ncrease Rankings, And Build Authority. With Years Of Experience We Know Exactly What Type Of Manual Dofollow Blog Comments It Takes To Quickly Increase Your Online Visibility click here

Durchführung erhalten wir von unseren Teilnehmern dafür die besten Beurteilungen mit 100% Erfolgsgarantie. . .how do i get my body into shape

I live in Moreno Valley and m looking for a doctoe to give me a recommendation for a card. Any idea’s where I can go? Thank you..buy neopoints instant delivery

I am always on the lookout for quality posts and articles so i suppose im lucky to have found this! I hope you will be adding more in the future.. viagra bestellen

I want to thank you. Good job! You guys do a great blog, and have some great contents. Keep up the good our site

internet site list and will be checking back soon. Please check out my web site also and let me know what you think Official Website

We Are A Full-Service Provider Of High Quality Backlinks That Help Boost Traffic, Increase Rankings, And Build Authority. With Years Of Experience We Know Exactly What Type Of Manual Dofollow Blog Comments It Takes To Quickly Increase Your Online Visibility
High PR Links

This is just what We needed. Cheers regarding expressing this excellent write-up! That's very intriguing Smile I like reading in addition to We are always trying to find beneficial information similar to this! to visit.unlock codes for cell phones

nstance ordinarily this exceptionally hued qualification,how to get steam codes absolutel.. backlinks service

Great article. I was introduced to you by Larboard Country and came on here to check you out. Will also be checking out your podcast. Great article!web design seo services

It’s always been that way, but with the Internet and round-the-clock coverage on cable TV, the nuts seem to have gotten nuttier..web designers company

Interesting website, i read it but i still have a few questions. shoot me an email and.. logo design

There are lots of tutorials on the web but none of them suggests certain color settings. My edited eyes always look so "plastic".https://www.rebelmouse.com/oldschoolnewbodypdfreview

Nice to be visiting your blog once more, it has been months for me. Well this article that i ve been waited for therefore long. i want this article to finish my assignment within the faculty, and it has same topic together with your article. Thanks, nice share.Penis Advantage EBook

I never really gag on the weight of the mayor, but we will not hide that it's always lfun draw someone more round than someone who has little traits or defects. As a cartoonist, we like to have the material, "Beaudet said. blackberry 9800 unlock code

I totally love the way you present your article less. You are such a gem! I want you to keep publishing more great articles like this. I will be pleased, sir..

prosklitiria gamou

Your article has piqued a lot of positive interest. I can see why since you have done such a good job of making it interesting. idaho falls window cleaning

Thank you for posting such a great article! I found your queen bee removal website perfect for my needs. It contains wonderful and helpful posts. Keep up the good work!

One feature we really like is the display of the minimum and maximum accepted wagers for each selection in the slip. blogging sites for beginners

I want to thank you. Good job! You guys do a great blog, and have some great contents. Keep up the good work alcohol and drug rehab

There are certainly plenty to choose from at a price that meets anyone’s needs. Please take a look around and we are sure you’ll find something that’s just right for you....best wordpress themes

It is a great website and nice share. I want to thank you. Good job! You guys do a great blog, and have some great contents. Keep up the good work 60x salvia for sale

Ixperia IT Schulung und Beratung An 18 Standorten in Deutschland bieten wir anspruchsvollen Führungskräften und Mitarbeitern erfolgreich Seminare zu den Themen IT Service Management, ITIL, Projektmanagement und Prince2 in exzellenter Atmosphäre. Sowohl fachlich als auch für die Durchführung erhalten wir von unseren Teilnehmern dafür die besten Beurteilungen mit 100% Erfolgsgarantie. ITIL Foundation

Thanks for the post and great tips..even I also think that hard work is the most important aspect of getting success.the venus factor ebook

Your article has piqued a lot of positive interest. I can see why since you have done such a good job of making it interesting. goji pro

Fotograf Reinhard Simon und Waltraud Pioch begrüßen Sie herzlich in ihrem Fotostudio “das portrait” in Frankfurt. Fotoatelier für anspruchsvolle Fotografie. Die erste Adresse in Frankfurt für Bewerbungsfotos, Businessfotos und Portraitfotos. Fotoatelier

Why should I go for GrabMyEssays furthermore hardly part additional? I enjoy shared us endeavors for very several pace plus would do well along a metamorphose to the uk correspondents. Nevertheless, I am hardly so unfailing what to think also would esteem some advice from you.

Nice to be visiting your blog once more, it has been months for me. Well this article that ive been waited for therefore long. i want this article to finish my assignment within the faculty, and it has same topic together with your article. Thanks, nice share.paleo diet recipes

Now, the fashion capitals of each country hold their own fashion week.The most popular, more commonly known as "the Big Four", fashion weeks are held in Paris, Milan, London and New York twice a year.

Used to hate LeBron -> kinda like him now -> has non dominant personality compared to Jordan/Kobe -> good at alot master of none -> he's terrible at marketing himself -> everyone should give him a chance because his on court antics are swell. Confused about the organization of all of this

Great article. I was introduced to you by Sklarbro Country and came on here to check you out. Will also be checking out your podcast. Great article!

Tom Scharpling is bizarro Bill Simmons.