The first time I heard about LeBron James was more than 17 years ago. I was living in Los Angeles and running a Nike Swoosh basketball league for 11-12 year olds.
Most of the rumblings about this kid from Northeast Ohio centered on his single mom and the raw gifts of this child prodigy from Akron.
If you’ve been involved in sports as long as I have, some 40 plus years, or if you’ve heard one story them you’ve probably heard them all.
After all I had seen Raymond Lewis as a kid and watched up close the development of Schea Cotton, then Paul Pierce and Baron Davis, Tyson Chandler the list goes on.
I can’t say that I even thought just how good this child prodigy could be.
That I would learn a few years later when as a star for St. Vincent St. Mary High School, LeBron came to UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion for the Dream Classic hosted by Dominguez High School.
I served as the public address announcer, but the one game I got pushed off was the game LeBron was playing in.
It was that day I knew; I had never seen anything like him. So long, so athletic, whip smart and so smooth. More than anything else I noticed he was such a jovial happy go lucky kid.
Basketball and LeBron James was a perfect symphony for history and we’d later discover mystery.
Now, here we are some 14 years, three NBA titles, a hand full of MVPs, three doting children and one lovely childhood sweetheart wife later, lifted to stratospheres unknown by his brilliance and mystified by his failure.
He has spoiled us all to expect the incredible, the impossible---all the time.
LeBron says that he is chasing the ghost of Chicago, Michael Jordan and his six pack of NBA championships.
After all, one might wonder what else is there to prove?
He is 7th all time in points scored, 12th in assist ahead of even Bob Cousy, 20th in steals and 25th in minutes.
However, it is when the lights shine brightest LeBron is at his absolute best. He will pass Michael Jordan as the leader in points by the end of this week. He has 5,926 and Jordan had 5,987.
LeBron has won four MVP’s and been named first team All NBA a remarkable 11 consecutive years. He was second team in 2004-05 and 2006-07.
As his remarkable achievements have become so common place, his shortcomings are lightening rods for critics.
Even before the post season began, magazines and newspapers questioned how much he had left in the tank at 32.
Not that he has slowed down like some aging prize fighter or even been injured, as much many want to celebrate him, others want to defeat him.
In a game 3 performance against the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals, LeBron scored just 11 points and the Cavs lost on a buzzer beater.
His coach said he was just human, and that there will be nights like that. There just has never been a night like that for LeBron, and especially not at this time of the year.
The following evening the Golden State Warriors completed their sweep of the injury riddled San Antonio Spurs to advance to the NBA Finals for the third consecutive year.
Last year the Warriors arrived with the best record in the history of the NBA and this time they will get there with a record setting 12 consecutive games, three playoff sweeps and are chomping at the bit for a bite of LeBron.
Meanwhile, LeBron operates on his own orbit. We lest not try to figure out what’s going on up there because we would never know.
Sometimes God sends us a rare gift as a token of his love for us. Instead of us appreciating the gift, we instead try to figure it out.
That, my friends we will never know. Enjoy it while it last…