I think Mark Cuban puts it best:
Can't say I was always a @KingJames fan, but I am today. Congrats LeBron.
— Mark Cuban (@mcuban) June 20, 2016
Nearly ten years ago, when LeBron James was running through the East’s toughest opponents in the 2007 NBA playoffs, I was just a pimple-faced, pre-Accutane middle schooler who was usually followed by a trail of axe body spray.
While I’d like to think subsequent years have been kind to me, I can barely fathom the growth in maturity that Lebron James has shown over the same stretch of time.
Before he even entered the league many sports pundits touted him as the Air Apparent. Being drafted right out of high school by the Cleveland Cavaliers at the number one spot furthered this narrative even more.
Recently one writer’s 2003 cautionary article entitled “Don’t Praise King James just yet” was brought back into the limelight for its claim that LeBron would be “average.” Charley Rosen probably is kicking himself for that early prediction but his basis for making it was not so far off.
Rosen, a respected former coach and NBA scout, astutely pointed out how LeBron’s early fame led to arrogance that held him back from maturing into a complete player. He so enjoyed the praise for his offensive game that he neglected his defensive responsibilities.
“His transition from offense to defense is shameful. Instead of hustling downcourt he lingers near the ball, hoping for a steal.”
Boy has that changed…
James was playing for the big lights and highlights in an all too selfish manner. The team basketball component of his game had not fully developed.
As a result of this and the exhaustion of having to carry his team through the playoffs, he and the Cavaliers fell to the “team basketball” icons, the San Antonio Spurs, in a four-game sweep in those 2007 Finals.
Somewhere along his tenure with the Miami Heat, James’ maturity level began catching up to his skillset. He began trusting his teammates more and limiting his own creativity to what he could do consistently well. His overall scoring and minutes declined, but so did his turnovers, while his field goal percentage and efficiency ratings reached career highs. He was growing up.
This acceptance of team basketball, with unselfish teammates like Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh helping, afforded him two titles and a better sense of on-court leadership.
So he returned to Cleveland (“This one’s for the Land!”) to bring a title to the place he considers his true home. On Sunday, with a Game 7 triple double, he accomplished a goal that most considered unlikely, defeating the Golden State Warrriors 93-89 in a game that will be remembered. The king has risen and will forever be considered one of the greatest to play the games.
And in case you missed the game 6 hype video, you need to click here and watch it now