LESSONS TAUGHT: Lebron James was always destined for greatness, but destiny can only be reached by those who are not only blessed with the gift of talent, but also the wisdom to choose wisely, the courage to get back up when knocked down and the faith to believe when doubt start creeping in.
Just imagine what it was like to be the #1 player in high school basketball, a teenager being banned from playing for your high school team for nonsensical reasons. Then being faced with the decision of leaving high school straight for the NBA, a league that separates the men from boys, at age seventeen. Something tried by some but works only for a few.
Maybe my admiration for LBJ is because on a very minute scale I'm being able to relate.
Being born and played high school basketball in Ohio, it would only serve right to play professionally for your state, and so the Cleveland Cavaliers, the worst team in the league selected Lebron James as the #1 pick in the 2003 NBA Draft.
After playing 7 years in Cleveland, winning rookie of the year, going to Eastern Conference Finals twice and winning once, going to the NBA Finals once and getting swept by these San Antonio Spurs, Lebron James was now the most popular player in the NBA. It was impossible to be the most popular player in the NBA and not being compared to Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan. And so the debate began throughout the televised sports world, basketball enthusiasts and fans on the streets and courts. This debate spanned worldwide. Lebron, as well as his open minded fans and professional analysts knew such a comparison can only be merited if you have the Championship rings to match Kobe's 5 and Jordan's 6.
Being a student of the game James understood what life can be like for NBA greats like Charles Barkley, Carl Malone, Reggie Miller, Patrick Ewing and others who did not win a Championship. With this knowledge and awareness of his rising legacy in basketball history, LeBron James was faced with his biggest decision yet. Be loyal to the city he has re-built and the state where he was born by re-signing with the Cleveland Cavaliers - a team that has made no move to acquire any help for him or do what he thinks is best for him or join a team where there is help and support, that gives him a better chance towards a championship run.
This decision was big! It became the most anticipated and analyzed decision in the sports world. Teams from across the League started placing their bids in trying to acquire the most popular player and rightfully so for they knew what James brings to a stadium, a city, a state and of course the NBA.
On a televised event called The Decision, LeBron James announced he will be joining US Olympic teammates Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami to form a championship caliber team, A franchise.
This televised event was taken by many as being arrogant, obnoxious and self- centered. It earned Lebron the nickname King James and created millions of enemies, and those we call HATERS and for many reasons.
Firstly. Because he left Cleveland.
Secondly. He didn't go to their respective teams.
Thirdly. For being so arrogant to hold up the sports world on a televised announcement that could have been made via twitter, Facebook or any sports reporter.
And here is where the WAR would begin. Analysts began promoting Miami as the best team on paper to win the 2010-11 Championship whilst the HATERS around the world began to wish LeBron and the Heats nothing but failure.
At the end of the 2011 season the Miami Heat became the Eastern Champions. They went up against Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals and lost in a 4-2 series which only sparked more fire. The naysayers, the haters were now confident that their bad wishes were paying dividends and that LeBron will never see a championship throughout his NBA career. Even the analysts now doubted their earlier predictions.
In entering the 2012 season, following a lockout, the Heat had a real bad start that gave fuel to the thought that maybe putting together this team was a terrible idea. They went on a run and finished the season with 46 wins 2nd in the Eastern Conference. After defeating NY Knicks, Indiana Pacers and Boston Celtics after being down 3-2 to Boston this only sharpened the disgruntled fans tongues even more. Playing for the NBA Championship against the Western Champions Oklahoma City, Miami Heat was favored to win but most hated. With experience and physicality, the Heat over powered the young OKC team to win their second title and LeBron's first Championship and NBA Finals MVP.
This championship earned him the best player in today's game and heightened the debate as to who is the better player in our time Kobe or LeBron. Winning his first title and Finals MVP also toned down the haters and quieted many of the naysayers who started thinking, well maybe they were wrong and LeBron got it right.'
The 2013 season began with talks of a repeat and the escalating debate. After the All Star game the Heat went on a 27 game winning streak, overcoming some massive deficits and defeating teams at home and on the road as if they weren't worthy. LeBron exhibited some impressive highlights and stats until they were stopped by the Chicago Bulls in Chicago. The Heat fell 8 short of breaking the 1972 LA Lakers 33 game winning streak. As expected any LeBron/ Miami Heat success only stirred up the boiling pot of hate. Finishing the regular season with 66 wins, the NBA's best the Miami Heat once again were the favorite to win the Championship.
Their playoffs began with the Heat sweeping Milwaukee to take on the Bulls who won game one in Miami. Coming from the Bulls fans and the haters there were unrealistic expectations, but the Heat went on to win four straight and sent the Bulls fishing. The next test was the Indiana Pacers. A team that easily defeated the NY Knicks, even with the league's highest scorer, Carmelo Anthony. Indiana, like the Bulls, stole a game at Miami and created some havoc. Going back home tied 1-1 the Pacers were very confident and gave Miami a run for their money forcing the series to a game 7 in Miami. Miami overcame and won but that did not lend any cushion to the criticisms. The Spurs fans that were waiting for a week began to speculate that if India took Miami to seven games, then they should be no match for the 4 time Champions San Antonio Spurs. The haters who have been losing toward the Heat so far now saw the Spurs as their last line of defense and so the WAR escalated.
San Antonio came into Miami and shocked the home team with some last-minute heroics from Duncan and Parker to take game one. This only intensified the speculations and gave confidence to the Haters that this is where LeBron and the Heat will meet their demise.
During Game two the Heat blew out the Spurs but that did not lessen the speculation, for it was expected. Game 3 back in San Antonio the Spurs whooped Miami and took a 2-1 lead on the series. Now the hater's nation began to grow and Miami's odds of winning began to lessen nationally. Miami won game 4 and again it was expected. Game 5 became real hype because it was widely agreed upon that whomever won game 5 will win the series and the Championship. With some magnificent shooting beyond the 3 point line and breaking Miami's Ray Allen's record for most 3's in the finals the Spurs blew out Miami and commanded a 3-2 lead with one more game to win to dethrone the Heat. With all the momentum swinging San Antonio's way Miami's fans had very little to hang on to other than they have the best player in the game and the last two games are at home in Miami.
With record viewing numbers, game six became the main topic on social media. Every household had some one either watching the game or commenting on a post. Twenty seconds to go in regulation it was clear Miami had lost and Lebron will not be two-time champion he and his fans had hoped he would be. It was clear to the world that San Antonio was the new champion and this was there 5th title. It was so clear the NBA had dispatched their security team and was rolling out the trophy. Miami fans had begun filing out of the stadium. The score was MIA 90 SA 95
After a missed free throw by Kawhi Lenard and a three pointer by LeBron James there was hope. Spurs turned over the ball and Miami was in a position to tie the game. Lebron shot and missed and Chris Bosh came up with the rebound and what might be the biggest play of his life. Found sharp shooter Ray Allen in the corner who buried the 3 in a dramatic fashion to tie the game and send it into overtime. The rage, the hate, the anger were all evident by the postings on Face book and the tweets on twitter by the Miami haters. In overtime Miami won in a game that will be remembered as one of the greatest finals game and possibly the biggest blooper in San Antonio's history.
Game 7 was the final game, 1 of only 4 in NBA history.
Miami Heat have repeated, back to back Championship and LeBron James has claimed his 2nd Championship, clearly putting him on the path to either meet or surpass Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan.
LESSON LEARNT: We all have been or will be faced with a decision at some point in our lives that will be so puzzling or confusing that neither friends nor family can honestly help, only GOD can advise us on this decision that can shape our future without any guarantees or plan B.
I became sympathetic to LeBron's circumstances in leaving Cleveland even though he may have gone about it the wrong way. The NBA like all professional sports have created owners of these teams that are beholden only to their shareholders and the prestige that comes with winning and that's ok, it's the rules. But know for them it's a game played by owners only. While another game being played by the players. This may not be visible by the fans that watch and support the game, for their interests are totally different and base only on bragging rights. With this knowledge how can one not choose or gamble on what's in their best interest, on what's in the interest of their future? Why should one be ridiculed for making a decision that he/she has to live with throughout the rest of their days and God forbids the ceiling comes tumbling down it will be you and you only left in that room.
Be strong, be courageous, be bold, be confident and even in the midst of what may seem to be selfish to others when clearly they have less to lose, always choose in your best interest!