Friday , Mar , 03 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

LeBron James: I’ll Take Him

The headline: ‘LeBron gets booed.’

The action: unprecedented.

The reaction: unprecedented – and uncalled for.

       LeBron James got booed by a home Cleveland crowd last week in a 102-94 loss to the Wizards. But of course you don’t need me to tell you that. You’ve heard this already – a lot. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say you and I both heard too much about LeBron getting the treatment from the fans. This a sickening thought, but LeBron getting booed was the most talked about and analyzed player-centric issue since Kobe Bryant scored 81.

       In case you’re wondering, yes, LeBron deserved to get booed. But just because someone deserves to get booed doesn’t mean it’s a smart thing to do if you’re a fan, particularly if you’re in Cleveland. If all you heard was the hype and not the particulars, LeBron shot 0-8 from the field and 4-12 from the line in the second half of that loss to Washington. He showed none of the qualities we should see in a great player that night. He gave the haters all they needed to get their hate on. He deserved to get booed.

       But then, LeBron doesn’t really need me to tell him that. He’s heard this already – a lot. In fact, I’ll go so far as to LeBron heard too much about his performance last week, we all did.

       I understand the argument. Hell, I just made the argument two paragraphs back in case you missed it. What I don’t understand is the suggestion. I don’t mean what’s being suggested about LeBron as a player, which is obvious; folks would now like to suggest LeBron can’t cut it as an elite player who elevates his teammates and steps up in the forth quarter. Fine, make that suggestion if you so please. But what exactly do you suggest the Cavaliers, do? I believe if you raise an issue, you should likewise offer up a course of action to remedy what you see as a problem. So there you go, if LeBron can’t cut it so much, what would you do? Trade him? I don’t think so.

       When there’s an abundance of attention and analysis surrounding a particular topic, an abundance of stupid is likely to be circling somewhere close. The criticism isn’t what’s unwarranted. Like I said, he deserved to get booed. What’s unwarranted, and illogical, is the notion that somehow LeBron James as a whole is inadequate. In comparison to what? Cleveland’s last great superstar?

       Again, I understand the concerns: that LeBron James isn’t filling the shoes of a perennial great one, that in order to be truly great he must be clutch in key moments. I get that. LeBron needs to step up. The thing is, what makes you think he won’t?

       In the pages of this very site I wrote an article back in August of last year discussing the unreasonable expectations around LeBron James and the eventual backlash that would come from media and fans when these expectations are not met. At the risk of sounding egotistical, I would say this is me being right, or at least the start of me being right. Cleveland fans and fans in general are slowly but surely growing spoiled, being LeBron isn’t enough, now he needs to be more than LeBron.

       The truth is, LeBron James isn’t ready to be what the world wants him to be. The truth is, the one called Chosen One can’t meet these expectations. The truth is the Cavs are a bad team and that largely falls on the shoulders of James. The truth is, even if the Cavs get to the Playoffs they aren’t sniffing the second round.

       LeBron is failing in his preordained destiny of being perfect. Thus far he’s done more than what everyone expected. Now he has to prepare for the criticism that comes with doing less than what people believe he should.

       I’m not sure when it happened, whether it be in high school, when he was drafted, or sometime in his rookie season, but somewhere along the way some people got the impression LeBron James was going to be perfect. Somehow the notion developed that he would surpass all expectations, every time, forever. This isn’t reality. Reality is LeBron James will fail before he succeeds, he will be criticized, he will be doubted, he will be lumped in with the other prolific scorers who can’t win and just when you think he’s ready to settle in for a pleasant accolade-laden, ringless career, he’ll do it – he’ll show us why we believed he could do no wrong. Right around 27 or 28, when the team and coach is right, when the time is right, LeBron will get his first ring (notice the word, first).

       Last night LeBron scored 33 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, and dished out eight assists in a 92-91 win over the Chicago Bulls. He made the assist to Flip Murray for the game winning three, but he wasn’t ideal in crunch time. Quite simply, LeBron was what LeBron will be for the next couple of years: great numbers, not quite clutch, not quite great. That’s fine; I’ll take him just like he is right now. The greatness and the rings may come later, but they will come.

Jordan is a free-lance writer in San Antonio. if you’d like to read more from him, visit his column at