I’m writing this article from a place I honestly never thought I would find myself. I’ve been against LeBron James for the past few years, not because I think he’s a bad player, but because I don’t feel he’s the player that we’ve been told since his high school days. The majority of the problem is the media and the way they’ve reported on him all along, something that has made many people root for his failure, because he’s been put on a pedestal beside the greatest of all time, Michael Jordan. While I’m not a fan of LeBron or the Miami Heat, I can honestly say that I don’t dislike him as strongly as I did in the past.
LeBron is a highly talented athlete, without a doubt he’s a specimen, but he had a ton of undue pressure put on him right out of the gate. (SPORTSILLUSTRATED2002) While I still don’t feel he’s on Jordan’s level, or honestly in the same zip code, I can admit that he’s one of the best players in the game today. That being said, how can you expect a kid at 18 years old, coming out of high school, to step in and be the new “Greatest of all Time” in the sport of basketball? I sincerely believe that was the immediate undoing of the legend of LeBron James for the majority of basketball fans. This young man had an amazing amount of pressure put on him before he ever set foot on an NBA court.
When you look at this from a cross sport perspective, this would be like telling a high school student they’re the next Beckham and expecting them to achieve more than he has in Soccer right after graduation. That is a ton of pressure for someone who’s been in the sport for years, much less a child who’s mind hasn’t even fully matured yet. I do think LeBron could have won more fans over by pushing off the expectations and being a bit more humble, but it seemed as if he bought into what the media said about him right from the start. It’s highly unfair to expect someone at 18 years old to not buy into the hype though, which is part of the reason I’ve turned the corner on LeBron.
While I wouldn’t put LeBron next to Michael Jordan, at least at this time in his career, I would put him as being close to Kobe Bryant. Kobe is the guy I would actually list as being closest to Jordan in the recent history of the NBA, and even he’s quite a way off from being Jordan. In the last couple days I’ve come to admit that I can respect LeBron for his talents, even if I don’t personally care for him as a player. I feel he could have handled his free agency better and that going to a super team to win titles diminishes his legacy a bit, but all of that aside I’ll give the Devil his due and admit that LeBron James is one of the best players we’ve seen in the NBA in some time.