Has LeBron James Turned From the Frozen One to The Chosen One?
At Florida Holidays we’ve been inspired by a sensational sports year which is why we decided to take a dive into the world of basketball and preview the 2012 / 2013 NBA season our way!
As usual around Halloween the NBA season gets under way and the 2012 / 2013 campaign – after a long offseason, numerous trades and everlasting discussions about LeBron James’ legacy – is planning out to be an exciting one.
First of all let me save you some time and get few things out of the way immediately: yes the Miami Heat are the best team, yes they defend their title next June and yes LeBron James is the best player in the league since Michael Jordan. Sorry Lakers fans, it had to be said and deep down you know I’m right. To infuriate you even further I put Tim Duncan ahead of Kobe Bryant on my list and since you’re wondering, here is my top-5-post-Jordan-era list as it stands in November 2012: LeBron, Duncan, Kobe, Shaq and Dirk Nowitzki … but I digress.
This column was supposed to be a preview of the 2012 / 2013 NBA season but I figured that was just a bit too boring. After all what is there really to discuss, as I said above, the Heat will repeat and Durant will win MVP despite that LeBron is the best player. However the Thunder will not make it back to the Finals since by getting rid of James Harden they not only traded their second best player (yes I think he’s better than Westbrook) but also their chances to make it back to the Finals for the next couple of years.
So by default we’ll see the Lakers in June (I do give the Spurs a puncher’s chance) since they have the best talent in the West. The NBA commissioner David Stern couldn’t have planned this one any better himself but then again this guy always seems to land on his feet. But seriously how come there isn’t more of an uproar concerning the New Orleans Hornets and their miraculous lottery win for number one pick Anthony Davis whilst being owned by the league? Stern gave them the opportunity to rebuild on the fly which enabled him to sell the team to Tom Benson, who also owns the Saints NFL franchise. This way Stern made sure the Hornets would stay in New Orleans which is important for his legacy because a franchise move always reflects badly on the commissioner (ask people in Seattle if they would invite him over for dinner?) How do people in Sacramento, Washington, Milwaukee or Toronto, teams who’ve been chronically bad, not feel completely ridiculed? I mean what would you think if you took part in a lottery genuinely believing you had a fair chance to win, then find out that the guy who runs the lottery also takes part in it and ends up winning the whole thing? Exactly!
Well Stern got away with it and in his last full season at the helm of the league he’ll finally give us the dream matchup between Kobe and LeBron that the basketball nation has been waiting for and that he, as a commissioner, has been dreaming of for almost a decade. Can you imagine the marketing opportunities at hand? Los Angeles versus Miami, Kobe versus LeBron, we haven’t seen anything similar since Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. I have to admit I can’t wait for this one either, the last time I got this excited about a potential matchup was when DeNiro and Pacino teamed up to star in Michael Mann’s Heat. The only way I don’t see the Lakers making the Finals is if Kobe screws it up. He will have to let Steve Nash run the show in L.A. and only if he is willing to do so can the Lakers win a title. Yeah that’s right, once again Kobe will have to learn to play second fiddle! (Oh man I’m really bashing on Kobe here.)
In the East it is even easier, the Heat got better in the offseason and they just seem to have figured it out, including their coach. With Derrick Rose missing most of the season, the Bulls cannot challenge the Heat in any possible way and the only team that might have a chance to beat the Heat are the Boston Celtics. They improved their team but Garnett as well as Pierce are not getting any younger and the biggest advantage they had over the Heat these last few years, and LeBron in particular, was a mental one. They were in LeBron’s head, made him believe he could not beat them, intimidated him and clearly got to him. However that’s not the case any longer, LeBron has overcome that obstacle, he has beaten them and will do so over and over again.
We’ve seen it several times, Jordan and the Bulls had to overcome the Pistons; Thomas and the Pistons had to go through the Celtics; and so on and so forth. It is a metaphorical passing of the torch ritual with the torch not being handed over willingly but rather being snatched away violently. Once you get hold of it you won’t let it go until the next challenger forcefully separates you from it. That’s how it works, that is the natural order of things in the NBA!
Don’t get me wrong, I like this Celtics team and respect them since they are a resilient bunch and refuse to give up. Who knows maybe they have one more run in them but I have to admit, they start to remind me of a balding dude who once had a glorious head of hair but refuses to acknowledge that his best days are long gone and wears a comb over. He might be fooling himself but he’s not fooling anyone else.
Alright, back to LeBron James. He is such an intriguing character and it does seem like people are already elevating him into the pantheon of basketball nobility despite only winning one ring. But to be honest, can we blame them, can we make an argument for them to be wrong? Let me answer this question with another question: have we ever seen such an assembly of strength, speed and skill in one athlete? This guy is a freak of nature, he has the body of a power forward with the skill set of a point guard and he is clearly unique in that regard. To utilise an overused sports metaphor and platitude, the sky is the limit for LeBron James.
The thing that impresses me the most is not his strength or his speed or the fact that he can play every position other than center, but his durability. He never seems to wear down, even after 40 minutes of playtime in which the offence goes through him on every possession whilst he’s also guarding the opponents’ best player. He just doesn’t get tired, period. He is scary good and trust me, as a Bulls fan I know what I am talking about since I’ve already buried any hopes of my team ever making the Finals as long as LeBron plays in Miami. As sports fans we might be witnessing something special here, be on the verge of a truly amazing exploit that no basketball player has accomplished since MJ.
So is it feasible for LeBron to surpass Michael Jordan as the godfather of basketball, as the greatest player we have ever seen? If you want to know, keep an eye out for part two of my slightly different NBA preview which I will publish tomorrow. Let me just say this, as always in sports, we seem to be prisoners of the moment!