The Gift and The Curse – The Paradox of LeBron James

LeBron James is an anomaly.

He’s a basketball prodigy and since his Sports Illustrated cover in high school he’s been tasked with being the greatest basketball player ever.

And he’s answered above and beyond the call.

 

There have been many who were supposed to be the “next Jordan”.

Harold Miner, Jerry Stackhouse, Vince Carter and the closest was Kobe Bryant.

But with LeBron he broke the mold, the greatest passer who wasn’t a point guard with the body similar to Karl Malone.

He’s also gifted with a genius level basketball IQ along with an absurd athleticism.

 

He’s currently in his 15th season and destroying expectations of what being in your “prime” truly means as he’s had more milage put on his body than anyone currently in the league except Dirk Nowitzki.

But it’s not all sunshine and daises if you’re associated with the King.

The requirement for LeBron has been to win a championship ever year or that season is a totally failure, “chasing the ghost” he’s haunted with the fact that Jordan never lost on basketball’s biggest stage.

And since James is seen by many as the “best basketball player in the world” means that it’s on his teammates to step it up and help him achieve his goal of competing for a championship.

 

Most fans would agree that his first tenure in Cleveland was a failure.

Despite Mike Brown winning Coach of the Year or the 2009 & 2010 Cavs both won 60+ games there’s been a since that LeBron has carried lesser talent to heights no one else could’ve.

When he shocked the world in Game 5 against the Detroit Pistons scoring the Cavaliers final 25 points it was seen as his coming out party.

No one expected the Cavs to win against a team that won a championship only years prior.

The Cavs facing the Spurs in the 2007 Finals was seen as a herculean effort by James.

 

Tracy McGrady was the first person I remember complementing the level of talent around James in that first era.

“As far as the Eastern conference this a pretty solid team…defensively this is pretty solid”

When speaking on how this team is perceived by the media JR Smith explains it’s the “Chris Bosh syndrome” and that “when things are going good we’re gonna give the credit to Bron and when it goes bad we’re gonna point the blame to the next in line”.

Chris Bosh warned Kevin Love personally about how his game would have to adjust playing with LeBron.

This was true in Miami and has been consistent with Love and the Cavaliers.

He’s had to deal with trade rumors each year he’s been with the Cavaliers while Bosh was nicked by Skip Bayless “Bosh Spice” for his style of play.

 

There’s a narrative similar to Jason Kidd or Chris Paul that he “makes his teammates better” but what’s not talked about nearly enough is that LeBron is a system in himself.

He’s essentially a coach out on the floor and as a basketball savant knows every play at every position for his team and also the opponents team.

Former Cavs GM David Griffin spoke about this quality on Bill Simmons podcast.

He told a story about essentially giving advice about a certain set the Raptors were running while the Cavs were in the midst of sweeping Toronto.

But since he’s a system until himself some players haven’t been able to adjust to that style of play.

MVP contender Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder couldn’t mesh and struggled as Cavaliers but looked promising with the teams of the Lakers and Utah Jazz.

 

The NBA was shook when Kyrie requested a trade out of Cleveland.

I mean who would want to leave the position of ‘Robin, the benefit of joining Batman as he’s consecutively been to 7 straight NBA Finals.

But he was subjected to questions about LeBron’s fatherly role on the team and according to him wanted to give more insight about social issues similar to how as the face of the league LeBron has been on the forefront of calling out crooked politicians and standing up for Trayvon Martin & Eric Garner.

 

As the Cavaliers are the Eastern Conference Finals, four wins away from a fourth consecutive trip to the NBA Finals the “others” as SNL parodied are stepping up in the own way.

As Kyle Korver knows no matter how great he is they can’t just “stand around and watch LeBron” and they’ve responded in kind.

Tristan Thompson was phenomenal in the decisive Game 7 against the Pacers.

George Hill was a dynamic scorer in the last game while JR Smith was a perfect 6-6 in field goals made.

 

While it is true fans including myself can be tempting into heaping praise onto LeBron James for the feats his doing in this playoff run it’s also important to remember that no one can win it alone and to recognize those on the team who deliver when their number is called.

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