On Thursday night the self-appointed Lebron ‘King’ James finally gained his crown by leading the Miami Heat to their second NBA Championship. Since gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated hailed as the ‘The Chosen One’ as only a sophomore in high school everyone witnessed the growing pains of a phenom striving to fulfill his promise.Thousands filled college arenas as Lebron James and his high school team traveled the country playing on national television facing traditional high school powers such as Oak Hill Academy (VA) and Germantown Academy (PA).
Despite possessing the size of Goliath and the speed of gazelle the expectations that awaited him once he shook NBA Commissioner David Stern’s hand as the first pick in the 2007 NBA Draft was far too much for his strong broad shoulders to bare alone. At the young age of 19 his network was valued at over 125 million dollars and his giant-like appearance and superior play on the court made pundits forget that he was still only a young teenage boy.
His seamless transition to the NBA instantly made fans and pundits increase their expectation due to his freakish size and dominance on the court. As his game continued to expand the Cleveland Cavaliers record began to improve. The expectations for Lebron grew immensely after leading his hometown Cavaliers to the NBA Finals in only his third year. These heightened expectations of a cap strapped franchise unable to lure other star players to play in Cleveland made winning a title for his hometown appear nearly impossible.
Once praised and hailed for his abilities on the court the criticism that once began only as whispers grew louder with each missed jumper or due to his inability to single-handedly lead his undermanned Cavalier franchise over the Boston Celtics which included 3 first ballot Hall of Famers: Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett.
We watched as this young man struggled to carry a franchise on his shoulders in the public eye while also experiencing the same growing pains common for young adults struggling to find their identity and place in the world. This lapse in judgment manifested itself in his now infamous Decision Special where he announced that he was taking his talents to South Beach.
After his announcement the self-appointed King immediately became villainized. He watched in shock as fans burned his jersey in the same streets where he grew up. Dumbfounded as the owner of the Cavaliers publicly criticized and questioned his leadership, selling his memorabilia for 17.41 which was the year that Revolutionary War Traitor Benedict Arnold was born.
Lebron played last year with a chip on his shoulder, full of bitterness for the city who hated him and anger at the thousands who no longer embraced him but greeted him with boos and harsh words. However, the hardships of last year and an abysmal performance against the Dallas Mavericks in his second NBA Finals causing humility which fostered a fire that helped him rediscover his love for the game he once only played for himself and not for the approval of others.
This season we bared witness to a player tortured by the mistakes from his past take steps toward reaching his full potential. In route to collecting his third MVP award Lebron became the leader that few thought he would be capable of attaining. Effectively blending his superior athleticism with a high basketball IQ often barking out the offensive sets of the opposition before they had even reached half court.
The young high school phenom has grown before our eyes, and like the Nike commercial we have all witnessed greatness grow before our eyes. Congratulations Lebron James on winning your first NBA championship, everyone can not wait to see what you will do for an encore.
Stay tuned… I know I will. – A. Denmark (@eatdrnkslpsprtz)