I bought my first NBA jersey at the Dallas Galleria in 2005. It was Dirk’s, obviously. But see, there was a special that day at Champ’s. Buy one, get the other half off. I’m a sucker for any derivative of BOGO.
Now came a choice. Since the NBA is a glamor game that thrives on superstars, this purchase had to be of a transcendent player. And because I had my Nowitzki on, team didn’t matter. There were two choices and until Kevin Durant came into the picture they’ve been the same for everyone: Kobe Bryant or LeBron James.
To understand why I came to my conclusion, note that each jersey was bound to the one behind it by one of those impossible plastic straps that you struggle to remove from every new pair of scissors. This was an effective way to prevent theft. But LeBron’s was on eye-level and Kobe’s required a ladder, and this complicated things. I didn’t want the clerk to waste a bunch of effort, so my choice was made out of pure convenience. I was a newborn WITNESS.
It was the right decision (the size S, 2+ Length, jersey is from the Cavs, but it passes for nostalgia). Look, Kobe is great and all, but I get LeBron. He’s a decent man with a passion that comes not from resentment or rage, but in trust and positivity. He made one mistake in his career and it isn’t even worth mentioning because he more than learned his lesson. He finds a weakness in his game and improves it. To ask for anything more is to ask for ketchup when you have six exotic sauces already in front of you. So ungrateful for the blessings you already have.
Still, every day, I get a 1990s fanboy calling me a “one of those LeBron guys.” F*ck yes, I am. Doesn’t mean I disrespect MJ or Kobe. But that legendary game against Detroit, Game 5 of the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals was one of the greatest things I have ever seen a human being do. Your Kobes and Jordans might win games, but LeBron, win or lose, will DOMINATE. Pure manslaughter. He should serve jail time for the stat line he produced this year. I’d make an argument that he is underrated, if you really want to throw down.
But it shouldn’t be about that. The berating, the bickering, the ring counting. It’s all moot. You don’t need to show me how many rings Jordan and Kobe have whenever you feel insecure about your idols losing ground. WE KNOW THE NUMBERS. We just don’t care.
We are in the middle of watching a man craft his masterpiece and all you can do is wave around your precious Mona Lisa: “Whatever LeBron does won’t be as good as this, bro!” And you don’t know. You have no clue, so let the man work. I hope LeBron wins a championship every year this decade. Then I demand corporal punishment for all those who defecated on his entire ride. I know who you are.
So, yes, I hope the Heat take down the Spurs and LeBron takes one more step, another step into divinity. And please, let us “LeBron guys” enjoy it. And even if that bland Spurs perfection puts a stop to it this year, I won’t think anything less of the man.
LeBron is an all-time top-shelf player, even if his jersey isn’t.