When I was growing up watching the NBA it was a completely different game, played by players with a completely different set of values. The era of 80’s and 90’s NBA was defined by hard work and guys who worked to get the most out of their skills. And by and large, society mirrored that image. Political correctness hadn’t even been manufactured yet and the era as a whole operated essentially on a “Put up or shut up” level. And until you “put up”, no one cared what you said because you weren’t sitting at the “Big Boy Table” to begin with.
As a result, you didn’t’ have “Super Teams” of NBA stars getting together to win a title because that wasn’t how society was. People took pride in what they could accomplish by themselves and worked with what was at their immediate disposal. Not surprisingly coinciding with the rise of the American small business owner, incredible talents like Xavier McDaniel, Tom Chambers, Bernard King and Hersey Hawkins (to name very few) toiled for years on bad teams and you never heard them bitch about it to the media or anywhere else for two reasons;
1) They weren’t the type of people to complain.
2) Nobody would have listened anyway.
And there were no easy games because the talent was spread out, every team in the NBA had a stud, at the very least on the level of Terry Cummings led Bucks squad. They showed up every night, did their best and moved on. That’s what I as a kid grew up watching and whether I realized it or not, emulated to at least a small degree.
Now let’s contrast that with the “Era of LeBron”, an era defined by entitlement and inflated opinions of self-worth. Good players on bad teams regularly run their mouths to get traded (in all sports) and they are consistently rewarded for that behavior. No one has to toil in the shadows like the “X-Man” or “Nique” because thanks to political correctness it’s a “Me first” world and you are “special” and if you aren’t treated as such, give me a minute I’ll get Gloria Allred on the phone for you.
So, that’s what the NBA has become; teams of guys who grew up being treated as if they were “special” from the minute the coach of their grade school realized they were taller, or more athletic than their peers. From there they embarked on a life that was based on a slanted reality; that you can do what you want because you are “special.” LeBron’s career reflects this.
“The Decision” was the height of LeBron’s arrogance and Chris Bosh and D Wade joining him in Miami spoke to the arrogance of the generation. That’s why the responses from Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan were so quick and so terse. Barkley put it best, saying, “I wanted to beat those guys and prove I was the best, not play with them.”
LeBron’s attitude is, if not at least partially responsible, largely reflective of a society today that is spoiled and fueled by a sense (real or not) of entitlement. An extension of that mentality and approach to life is excuse making. Which is exactly what LeBron has done time and time again when the pressure is on, most recently not even having the balls to come out for pregame introductions in Cleveland;
"I was just using the restroom. Am I allowed to do that?" He made an excuse to justify it; which is the only thing worse than not doing it in the first place.
When Sir Charles was a Sun or a Rocket, did you ever see him dodge the Philadelphia fans so much as not to appear in the pregame introductions? Never. To me that’s beyond immaturity; that’s Fear. And if LeBron James feels fear in his heart before doing what he is supposedly better than anyone else in the world at, then you shouldn’t feel bad for feeling fear at times either.
But the difference between you and LeBron is that when you feel fear about putting on that presentation at work, or solidifying a sales deal or changing a transmission at your job, fear isn’t an option and you don’t cower away and make excuses; you get it done because you have to. LeBron James is afraid but because he’s grown up with a sense of entitlement he’ll never have to face his fear or anything “uncomfortable”. And as a result he doesn’t know how to face those things now. Sadly that philosophy has worked 90% of the time in his life; Society bent itself to fit his demands, not the other way around like it used to.
Unfortunately for LeBron doing things you don’t want to do is what makes a man, a man, something I learned from watching some great players in my formative years on some bad teams, starving them of recognition in the process.
But Lebron shirked off his responsibility because he isn’t a man; he’s a coddled brat in a “Me first” society in a grown man’s body. So why did the Cavs beat the Heat? LeBron offered another excuse when asked about it.
“We just have a target on our back every night; every team is gunning for us so those things happen.”
Did the 1995-96 72-10 Bulls team not have a target on their back every night? Of course they did. But they never lost to the worst team in the league EVER, and they never slept walked thru games.
If there was any doubt before, at this point it’s obvious LeBron couldn’t hold Kobe’s jock with his hand, or any other part of his body. Kobe, after being accused of rape, got the kind of reception LeBron now gets only in Cleveland in EVERY NBA CITY (even LA) and was 10 times worse, for over a year. But Kobe is a MAN; he took his lumps, kept kicking ass and won two more titles.
So ask yourself this the next time you’re watching an NBA game; who of the current players would be good analysts when they’re done playing? Barkley takes a lot of crap but could LeBron even be THAT good? Can you imagine Chris Bosh giving a concise, thoughtful answer about ANYTHING, even basketball? Deron Williams? Yeah, me neither.
But the way society has evolved, maybe ten years from now people will be lining up for Bosh’s me first, subjective, self-serving basketball “insight” because we’ve been degraded that much further.
And what type of human does that create? Look at the Heat’s roster for your answer.
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/keithallison