Should LeBron James be considered a Legend? Maybe.
Should LeBron James’s Mother be considered a Legend? ABSOLUTELY!
In what has become the resume of resumes, Gloria James, in 43 short years, has managed to accomplish the following:
- Commit a DUI offense that resulted in a reckless driving violation, speeding and disorderly conduct, and destruction of a police vehicle.
- Inexplicably assault a valet parking attendant at an upscale Miami hotel for no apparent reason whatsoever other than the fact she was 3 Mojitos under after 8 hours of drinking. Of course, this didn’t stop her from lobbying the most overused, ill-fated D-list celebrity line in Hollywood when she declared “Do you know who I am?”
- Give birth to a 6’8 athletic freak who has managed to transform his image from the most beloved NBA athlete since Michael Jordan, to one of the most polarizing players in sports.
- Earn unanimous recognition as the world’s most unattractive MILF by sleeping with paranoid schizophrenic, manic depressant, and former LeBron James teammate Delonte West, thereby changing the entire landscape of the future NBA.
You don’t believe me? Follow my logic if you will.
Let’s just assume that Gloria James refrains from sleeping with Delonte West during the 2010 playoffs. It is then fair to assume that Lebron goes undistracted during the pivotal Game 5 of the 2010 Eastern Conference Semifinals, and the Cavs successfully defend their home court and beat the Celtics in Game 7. It is also then fair to assume that the Cavs then proceed to beat the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals before engaging in a marquee matchup for the ages with the Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. For the sake of running crazy wild with this hypothetical, let’s say that the Cavs maximize their home court advantage and win the NBA Finals, which is within the realm of possibility. I think that we can then make the following predictions:
1.) LeBron James instantly becomes recognized as the undisputed “Best Player in the NBA”, and given his unique skills, talent, and accolades, one of the top 10 players of all time. More importantly, there is no “Decision”, no 2010 playoff failure, and his positive standing in the eyes of NBA fans around the world not only remains in tact, but actually increases in popularity. The result is that Lebron begins knocking on the door of basketball immortality as the Michael Jordan comparisons begin to increase, and the fair-weather sports media begins counting down championships similar to a Space Shuttle launch.
2.) The Cleveland Cavaliers re-sign LeBron James who continues to serve as the cornerstone of their franchise, and face of the NBA for the next 5-7 years while winning multiple championships. The Cavs also retain Mo Williams, Zydrunas Illgauskas, and Delonte West, while potentially adding a legitimate #2 guy through free agency or via trade, or at a minimum, a strong complimentary player using their 6 million dollar Mid-level exemption. And while Dan Gilbert continues to reap the benefits of multimillion dollar profits generated by re-signing his Cash Cow, the world is deprived of what in reality became the single greatest “lover’s scorn” moment in NBA history when Gilbert not only wrote a scathing letter that was similar to one that I received from my ex-girlfriend in 2001, but added insult to injury by decreasing the price of Lebron James Bobble head Dolls from $99.99 to $17.41, because 1741 is the year that Revolutionary War traitor Benedict Arnold was born… You can’t make this stuff up.
3.) 125 year old Betty White is mercifully allowed to retain her dignity by retracting her offer to “make it worth Lebron’s while” should he stay in Cleveland instead of signing with another team. As such, White continues her life by doing exactly what she has been doing -retreading that same exact Golden Girls character from 25 years ago - except the productions are no longer called “Golden Girls”.
4.) Downtown Cleveland’s restaurant and bar establishments continue to benefit from another 5-10 years of record revenues, which also means that horny 21-37 year old men continue to benefit from the large post-game Cavs crowds that meander through ‘The Landing’ after every Cleveland Cavaliers game. More importantly, my buddy “Divorcee John”, finally moves past the fact that his ex-wife cheated on him over Facebook, and gets himself laid.
5.) Kobe Bryant’s legacy takes a hit as he fails to secure his 5th championship ring, and is held outside the velvet rope of the “Top 10 Greatest Players of All-Time” club, while again enduring the brunt of those unending Shaq vs. Kobe debates that still exist a decade later. The Lakers then break up the team by trading away either Gasol or Bynum, Kobe this time threatens to play on Jupiter, and 8 months later, the Lakers miraculously acquire Dwight Howard for Shannon Brown, Theo Ratliff, and a second round draft pick – once again proving that Laker magic happens once every 5-10 years.
6.) The Boston Celtics begin dismantling their team after a disappointing second round exit, confirming suspicions that their team has become too old, and invoking fears that if they do not act quickly and get value for their aging stars, they will become well….. The Boston Celtics (1992-2007). Ray Allen gets traded to Miami, Kevin Garnett to a non-contender, and Paul Pierce retires. Lastly Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson get traded to Oklahoma City for Jeff Green and a bunch of scrubs…… wait, that actually happened?
7.) Miami becomes odd man out, striking out in free agency as Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh end up in Chicago forming the new “Big Three”, likely stifling the development of Derrick Rose, and changing the course of MVP history. Lebron wins his 3rd MVP – all hail the King.
So let’s recap here - Within a single lifetime, Lebron’s mom has been arrested for drunk driving and assault, given birth to an athletic freak, helped a valet parking attendant come to prominence, boned a paranoid schizophrenic, transformed the fate of multiple NBA franchises, altered the careers of countless NBA players, enabled Derrick Rose to win the 2011 MVP, shattered the economy of a major US City, destroyed the sex life of my buddy “Divorcee John” from Cleveland , educated 75% of the nation on the fact that human life actually existed back in 1741, and spared one poor Golden Girl from what would have been a period of excruciating and unending physical pain…. all within the course of a single lifetime. Gloria James not only changed the course of NBA history, but transformed the history of mankind, with feats that would make 85% of washed up rock icons envious.
If that’s not legendary, I do not know what is.
But I digress……
Even today, a debate as to whether or not Lebron, at this stage of his career, should be considered a Legend.
To date Lebron’s resume has consisted of the following:
- 8 Full Seasons in the NBA
- 2x MVP (2009 and 2010)
- 5x First team All-NBA; 7x All-NBA honors
- 7x All-Star (2005-2011)
- 3x First Team All-Defense
- Rookie Of The Year (2004)
- Scoring Title (2009)
- 4x PER Leader (2008-2011)
So should LeBron James be considered a Legend? The best way I can answer this is by offering the same response that every lawyer, consultant, plumber, and one-night stand has ever offered me when posed with this same exact question:
“It all depends”.
It all depends on your criteria and reasoning, and there are 2 questions you should ask yourself:
1.) What are your criteria for “Legend”?
2.) Why wouldn’t you consider LeBron James a legend, particularly when measured against other players who have been awarded the same status?
It certainly cannot be because of a lack of talent and skill, because LeBron James, while perhaps not the “best” player to ever play, is still arguably the most talented, skilled, and athletic player that the NBA has ever seen.
It certainly cannot be because of stats, because Lebron’s career averages of 27.7 points, 7.1 rebound, 7.0 assists, 1.7 steals, 0.9 blocks, 47.9% FG, and 74.4% FT, rival even the best of HOF stat lines.
It certainly cannot be because of an absence of individual awards or accolades, because his two MVPs place him in an elite category that only 12 others have achieved, and his multiple combined 1st Team All-NBA and All-Defense honors provide him with a distinction that most players have never attained.
It certainly cannot be because he has failed to make his team better; In 2009 and 2010, he single handedly led the Cleveland Cavaliers to the best record in the league, while in 2007, at 23 years old, he willed a mediocre Cavs team to the NBA Finals while putting on one of the most legendary single game performances in NBA history during Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Is it because he has failed to win a championship? Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Patrick Ewing, John Stockton, and Elgin Baylor all failed to win a ring, yet all are still considered legends. Moreover, players such as Oscar Robertson and Julius Erving may have won a championship, but neither did so as the Alpha-Dog of their respective teams (Oscar teamed with Kareem in 1971 while Julius rode the locomotive that was 1983 Moses Malone).
Is it because despite having 8 Hall of Fame seasons, Lebron has not yet put in his time? I would ask you to consider quality over quantity. As a comparison, Oscar Robertson played 14 seasons, but only 10 were of the legendary level that we remember him for.
Is it because in order to be acknowledged as a legend, you need to have a combination of each of the above? Great stats, ungodly talent, multiple MVPs, combined 1st Team All-NBA/All-Defense honors, lead your team to victory in the playoffs as an underdog, played more than 9 seasons AND won a championship? If so, that leaves you with only 5 legends in NBA History: Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Tim Duncan, Wilt Chamberlain, and Bill Russell.
Yup… 5 legends total.
In my mind, LeBron James is absolutely a Legend. However, most are not yet ready to award him with this distinction for 2 reasons:
1.) They hate him. Some hate him for leaving Cleveland, others for “The Decision”. But most, whether they are able communicate it or not, hate him because they expected so much more from him. They wanted him to embrace the pressure that comes with being the defined Alpha Dog for a team, the person who we could declare to be the next Jordan, the definitive face of the NBA. Moreover, they wanted him to exude that uber-competitiveness that makes a superstar player want to compete against their rivals, not join them, while demonstrating the ego and selfishness that comes with demanding recognition and adoration. Instead, Lebron chose to team with another Alpha Dog, put his ego aside, and sidestepped the scrutiny that comes with Chasing 23. And because of that, there are some folks who will never acknowledge LeBron James as a legend.
2.) Some feel as if Lebron has not yet put in his time, played through his peak, grown older before our eyes, and invoked that reverential emotion that comes by watching a player will himself thought the twilight of his career. It’s what makes us love them even more, reflect back on their careers with fondness, and appreciate their accomplishments. It’s emotional, not logical, but nonetheless the reality.
Regardless, the fact is that there are more than 5 legends in NBA History, and an argument exists that LeBron James’s career, up to this point has been as good, if not better than most. If so, we can confidently accept one thing:
LeBron James IS a Legend…….
And his mom is an undisputable Icon.