Hic Iacet LeBron, Fraus Quondam Frausque Futurus
– Here lies LeBron, the Once and Future Fraud
I know how many will react: that “fraud” is way too harsh a statement. After all, LeBron is undoubtedly a great basketball player, one of the five best players in the game today.
Even before truly entering his athletic prime, he already possesses an amazing combination of scoring touch, passing vision, and an unprecedented blend of size & speed.
And therein lies the rub.
Before he even played a single minute of professional basketball, LeBron James was supposed to change the game. Dr. J and Jerry West were even sitting in the congregation when the sermon of “The Chosen One” was being delivered to us. Remember: we were all witnesses; to what that was, we may now never know.
LeBron did nothing to convince us otherwise. His mouthpiece and bracelets in high school read “King James.” He answered questions about carrying the torch of the NBA for the next generation without hesitation. Once asked by ESPN about what his goal(s) are, he nonchalantly answered: “Global Icon.”
But last night, we found out the truth: that despite all the hype surrounding him and monikers we’ve anointed him with, LeBron is nothing more than a very good basketball player who will never deliver on the promise so many saw in him.
He is not “The Chosen One, ” contrary to what the gaudy tattoo across his back may say. He is not the “King.” Seven years into his NBA career, you can even make the argument that he’s still not the best player in the NBA, as long as Kobe Bryant is still playing professional basketball.
Even if LeBron wins six straight rings with the current triumvirate of him, Wade, and Bosh, history will never mention James in the same breath as Michael, Magic, Larry, Kareem, and Bill Russell. In the end, history will say only one thing: LeBron James had to leave Cleveland – the one and only place he’s ever called home – and go to Dwayne Wade’s team in order to win a championship.
No matter how many championships he wins and how well he plays in the NBA finals, LeBron will be placed into a group with guys like Julius Erving, David Robinson, Scottie Pippen, Clyde Drexler, and Kevin Garnett: MVP’s and borderline superstars who couldn’t do it themselves, and needed someone else to get them to “the promised land.”
Last night, we found out that “King” James was never meant to hold the Excalibur of being the torch-bearer of the NBA’s next generation. Instead, after the most narcissistic, self-aggrandizing, and anti-climactic press conference in the history of professional sports, we found out that LeBron had us fooled all along. He was never the basketball messiah of Cleveland. He was never a global icon in the making. He was never the guy that we’d be telling stories about to our grandchildren, as many of us will with Jordan, Bird, and Magic.
And the sad thing is, I think he knew this all the while, but enjoyed the ride and lucrative benefits along the way. And in the end, it wasn’t the NBA or Cleveland or Chicago or New York who lost.
It was the fans. In the end, the fans found out that “King James,” the self-proclaimed Emperor of the NBA, really had no clothes on after all.