Basketball is my favorite sport. I enjoyed watching Michael Jordan back in the day and even though I am not a fan of the Lakers I can appreciate a win and watching Kobe score. It is a simple sport on the surface and even though you can implement strategic plays, similar to those that are commonplace in football that is not what defines the appeal of the sport to me. For me it is the sheer determination and the resolve to win that makes the sport great. There isn’t that much to think about and you do not have to differentiate between positions that are the contributions of individual players in the game if you do not want to. Then again I could be romanticizing about some idealistic synchronicity as it seems to be easy to get into on the fly. You do not need the back story, or preoccupy yourself with a plot.
But I often wonder if the arrogance and pride that is associated with LeBron James character is not a part of who are as individuals, and part of the way in which his generation defines itself. After all, LeBron James is a kid of the eighties and part of a generation that is consumed with what everyone thinks about them. It is all about Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, social networking and endless advertising and self-promotion, even when there is nothing tangible one has to sell. Where my generation took a lot of flak for being slackers, disenfranchised, uninterested, disaffected and pundits that rallied against the establishment the generation that proceeded seem to be victims of the same establishment my generation rebelled against. They try to define themselves in their own way, but seem to be “all too willing” to exploit the tools of the establishment even at their own demise. They do not care about privacy, and they want to be seen and heard, even if it is through a computer or the Internet.
This is also a generation that has taken on conspicuous consumption in different ways. For the yuppies and buppies that preceded my generation, the trinkets were expensive automobiles and large houses, for my generation designer clothing was all the rage and this new generation is obsessed with technology. We like to point the finger at LeBron James and demonize him, but he is simply doing what everyone else in his generation is doing. His generation is learning from those in my own generation that are arrogant, boastful, unapologetic in your face Black men and Black women that want you to know, aren’t hiding from anyone, and are both revered and hated for their self-promotion. What else would you expect LeBron James to do? Basketball in particular, has not been a humble sport since the days of Michael Jordan (and even then you had players like Charles Barkley) so we should not be surprised.
We want pride to come before the fall. But we can’t remember the last time we have seen someone fall that had it coming to them because of their pride. What we fail to realize, is that it is not pride that contributes to someone’s fall in this country, but our media that is responsible for people’s fall. If the media wants you to fall, you will fall. If the people love you enough to prop you back up and help you dust your shoulders off and send the media packing, they can help you do so and the media has to get with the program. Tiger Woods has been shown that love, but Tiger Woods has not been on his game, so there isn’t much of a story there. His indiscretion and crucifixion at the hand of the media have taken a psychological toll on him.
Yet Tiger Woods is of a different generation. He is from my generation. LeBron James is of a new generation, and might not fall as easily. He knows how to play the game and rally support even when the media is against him. If he can take Miami to a championship win, he has the last laugh. If he does not he has to stand tall, because the media is waiting for him to mess up. He gambled his career and everything he learned in Cleveland for the bright lights in Miami, where the weather is always warm and the women are always beautiful. So he has to prove everyone wrong. So he left Cleveland, which is a rough town that will eat you up and chew you out, and one that I am surprised he stayed at for as long as he did. But since he feels that he has graduated and is on a different level than Cleveland, and is ready for bigger and better things, he has to deliver. He may learn that Miami is capable of doing the same things that Cleveland is. The only difference being, the sexy fantasy of playing for this dream team may be the horrific nightmare that is LeBron’s undoing. If it is not we may find a new respect for him all over again…