I have never liked Lebron James. I was biased against him from the time he came into the spotlight, mainly because people were saying that he would surpass Jordan as the greatest to play the game.
Jordan was my hero. I didn’t want anyone to come near Jordan’s legacy.
Lebron definitely didn’t try to win me over. He seemed incredibly immature, didn’t seem to respect his coaches and lived like a superstar before having proved anything. I always felt like he was more focused on building his “brand” than playing basketball.
When Chicago had a chance to get him last summer, I made it clear that I didn’t want him. When the whole “take my talents to South Beach” fiasco went down, it solidified something like hatred in my heart towards him. I was almost ready to imprecatory prayers for Miami to fail.
I celebrated Miami’s struggles at various points in the season. Serves them right, I thought.
But it’s amazing how a little bit of perspective can produce compassion.
I just watched More Than a Game with a couple of friends. It is a documentary of Lebron’s high school team and their attempts to win a high school national championship. The story was put together so well that I thought that Disney wrote the script. It had everything a sports movie needs to succeed: humble beginnings, early adversity and defeat, victory, a fall due to pride, an ineligible superstar, and plenty of other classic sports archetypes.
Perhaps the film was slanted to improve Lebron’s image. Still, there was something about the story that humanized him. While the film didn’t play up the “growing up without a father” angle, I felt like I began to understand why Lebron has struggled to respect/submit to his head coaches, why he struggles with boundaries and accountability.
The most powerful moment of the film was video footage from Senior Night at St. Vincent St. Mary’s (his high school). Each of the seniors walked down the court, arm in arm with their parents.
When it was Lebron’s turn, mother or father where nowhere in sight. His teammates went back and walked him out, arm in arm. This was his family.
Don’t get me wrong. Lebron is still responsible for his actions. Growing up without a father doesn’t give anyone the right to be a jerk. It just doesn’t. And I still don’t want Miami to win. (Go Bulls!)
But knowing a little bit more of Lebron’s story helped me see that he is not the villain I’ve made him out to be. Like most of the people we turn into villains, their story is just a lot more complicated than we think. Most people make really boring villains when you get to know them.
And when they stop being villains, then the hostility directed towards them gives way to something else.
Question: What do you think about Lebron James? How responsible are people from difficult circumstances for the way they turn out?