Michael Jordan (and many others) asked the question a few weeks ago, “What happened to the days where superstars wanted to beat one another?” He said he never would’ve teamed up with a guy like Magic Johnson just for the sake of winning a championship – he wanted to beat Magic Johnson to claim that championship. But that is why Michael Jordan is the greatest player to ever play the game. And that same reason is why Kobe Bryant has to be closing in on second place among all-time greats.
LeBron James made it completely obvious in his complete waste of time for a TV show entitled “The Decision” that he doesn’t have the same killer instinct that the greats had. He made it rather obvious in game two, three, five and six in the Celtics’ series that he doesn’t possess that same win at all costs attitude that Kobe and Michael have/had.
But we’re not going to dwell on the past today – it is what it is. Cleveland has been slapped in the face before and Lord knows we’ll be slapped in the face again. It’s the life of a Cleveland sports fan. And that’s why it takes a special kind of person to be a fan of Cleveland sports teams. We’re not bitter about LeBron leaving anymore. He’s a coward – and we’re better off without that egotistical attitude on our team.
However, being bitter and being realistic are two totally different concepts. I’ve heard several people over the last few days/weeks say that the Cavaliers should hang the Queen’s #23 jersey from the rafters to honor seven of the best years in Cavalier history.
I mean, sure the guy gave us a flurry of Top Ten jams and chase down blocks. He single handedly took us to the NBA Finals (only to be swept when we got there). He was obviously the biggest factor in Cleveland’s claim of best regular season record over the last two seasons.
Notice what I left out though? He, like every other Cavalier great before him, failed to push the franchise to the top of the league. He quit on the team when we were just one piece away from claiming that championship. And, worst of all, he quit on the city of Cleveland – a place that he’s called home from 25 years of his life.
Bill Livingston says it best in his article written for the Plain Deal entitled Retire LeBron James’ No. 23 with the Cavaliers? No Way when he claims that so much is made of one’s first impression. Most of us remember the excitement that rushed through our veins when the lottery ball popped up in favor of our beloved Cavaliers. And some of us remember LeBron’s 25 point performance in Sacramento for his NBA debut. But all of us remember the verbal slap in the face that James delivered the Cavaliers on national TV. It’s an image and a moment that will stay with us forever. Not just because he did so much in making the franchise relevant again – but because we thought he was one of us, and he let us down just like any other egotistical, spoiled athlete would have done.
Does LeBron James deserve to have his name mentioned in the same breath as Austin Carr, Bingo Smith, Nate Thurmond, Mark Price, Brad Daughtery or Larry Nance? Not a chance. Because those six guys respected the jerseys they wore more than they coveted personal attention. They loved Cleveland. And they loved the Cleveland Cavaliers. And it is the respect for more than one’s own self that makes him a legend.
That description just doesn’t fit LeBron James. Does it?