There was one upside to the recent NBA lockout and it had nothing to do with basketball related income, griping owners, David Stern, Billy Hunter, the union dissolving, or money. Instead, the lockout provided everyone a distraction. If the lockout had not occurred the summer and fall would have been dominated by talk about LeBron James.
Make no mistake, this is James’ league. Yes, there are other great players but none is as scrutinized and as vilified as he. The lockout granted us and him a brief, albeit tedious and blunderous, reprieve. James’ miscues on and off the court have been well documented. His method of leaving Cleveland and his fourth quarter performances with Miami are headline news. He has no private life, and at times it seems that he wants the attention.
Since James was in high school at St. Vincent/St. Mary’s, he has been anointed as the next great player, the next Kobe, the next Jordan. However, that his not who he is. He is a different player with a different build and athletic capabilities. That does not matter, though. The comparisons will continue to pile on.
He has carved out a swath for himself in the NBA. James is not a niche player. With the attention his game, and sometimes his antics, garner, critics will continue to make a living reveling in his misfortune. They are not friendly pandas who James can have a pleasant photo-op with.
The lockout shifted the spotlight away from James. It gave everyone the room to breathe and take a step back. As the Miami Heat began training camp this year, the throngs of reporters had subsided from a year ago. Perhaps the Heat and James are old news. They did not make any big acquisitions. They just lost a few players. Nothing special there. Of course, to think that James will not garner headlines this season would be beyond naïve.
With games resuming on Christmas day, James has just a few more hours of personal time to enjoy. The present under his tree will be watching the team that beat him in the Finals raise the championship banner. It will be at that moment that the critics will reawaken after their lockout slumber. James will again be the center of attention. It is not right and it is not wrong, it is just how it is.
Merry Christmas, LeBron. It is going to be a very long, shortened season. Next year ask Santa for a little more reprieve and a few more pandas. James does not even like to play on Christmas, a day in which his critics hope to feast. He has two children he wants to spend time with. That is good for something, at least.