Can I Get a Witness? LeBron’s the King Regardless of the Outcome

Several years ago, before he fled the great North for the sunny climes of South Beach, Nike ran an advertising campaign that featured simple, black and white clips of LeBron James doing LeBron James sorts of things. The tagline was inspired heresy, “We are All Witnesses.”

Hewn by God to play the best game ever invented, LeBron James is a wonder, likely the most talented human ever to lace up the sneakers. He can defend every position, four of them at an elite level. He can run, fly, dribble, rebound and he passes better than any forward not named Larry Bird. He shoots well enough to be a threat, and his drives are like an armored column in search of a target. And, of course, he is massive by any normal metric.

His talent has always been undeniable, even when he was in high school. He has struggled, at times, with how to fit into a team. He can do everything, but he doesn’t want to. He recognizes that basketball, at its most beautiful, is not about the physical dominance of a single player, but about how five people work together to score and prevent the other team from scoring. The best players not only reign, but they inspire a royal court to follow. Secondary players, with leadership, can be better.

During this finals run so far, James’ leadership has been the difference. Jordan won with Pippen, Grant, Kerr, Paxson, Hodges, Harper, and Cartwright. Bird won with McHale, Parrish, Johnson, Ainge, Maxwell, and Carr. Magic won with Jabbar, Scott, Cooper, Rambis, Nixon, and Worthy. Duncan won with Parker, Ginnobli, Robinson, and Johnson. James’s supporting cast would not start on any of those teams. If he manages, somehow, to drag this group to a championship, it could be the most impressive individual accomplishment in a team sport. Minus the second and third most talented players on the roster, LeBron has found a way so far.

Why? I think he knows that individual dominance that inspires, as opposed to humiliates, that cajoles instead of degrades, is the only way forward. He will do everything, but he will do it selflessly. And Dellavedova, Mozgov, Shumpert, Jones, and Thompson will put their egos aside, acknowledge James’ brilliance, and seek to achieve something together, with him, they could never do without him.

I am not sure what will happen throughout the rest of the NBA Finals. Perhaps Golden State will recapture its shooting touch and steam through the undermanned Cavaliers. Perhaps James turns an ankle. Maybe Dellavedova loses his grip on Curry. Regardless, James’ performance so far confirms his greatness, even if he comes up a little short. It will be thrilling to witness.

One thought on “Can I Get a Witness? LeBron’s the King Regardless of the Outcome”

  1. While LeBron may have created about himself an outward aura of unselfishness, I think deep inside he is still the same LeBron of “The Decision” and “not one, not two, not three, etc. etc.”.

    I also believe the so-called homecoming was far less about returning home than it was about LeBron’s own legacy. If LeBron desires anything, it is rings. Like Gandalf said of Sauron “he is seeking it his every thought is bent on it”. If the Miami Heat had not been so thoroughly smashed by the Spurs last year and had instead won that finals, in all likelihood LeBron would still be in South Beach. His return to Cleveland happened because he realized he was not going to win anymore in Miami with an aging Dwayne Wade and also because the Cavaliers had by then Kyrie Irving and other incentives to draw him back. Right now, LeBron might be playing well without Kevin Love or Irving, but if Cleveland had not had them in their lineup or about to be in their lineup, then LeBron would not have, as they say “returned home”.

    As for the Warriors… they seem to me to have turned into a 2015 version of the 2012 OKC Thunder; a team that was younger and more talented (IMO) than the 2012 Miami Heat but for whatever reason wilted under Finals pressure. The Warriors seem to be, for the moment, going down the same road. They are fully capable of turning this around and trouncing the Cavs. The question is, will they?

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