King James – Impossible to love?

So to mark my milestone tenth blog post, I’ve decided to take a step back from football this week and have a look at a different sport – basketball – and more specifically the games biggest star, LeBron James.

For those of you who don’t already know, LeBron is kind of a big deal.

"What do I have to do?"

This is a guy who skipped the usual route of college sports and proceeded straight into the NBA draft at 18. Such was his talent, he was drafted as the #1 pick in 2003, making him the youngest player of all time to take the number one spot.

A $90million shoe deal with Nike was signed before he’d even played a minute of basketball in the NBA – a lot of pressure for such a young man to deal with.

Nearly 10 years have passed since James made his NBA debut with the Cleveland Cavillers, and he’s torn up the record book and more or less made it his own. Numerous points records, eight consecutive All-Star team selections and two MVP titles to boot – yet the public aren’t satisfied.

I asked the question: “What do you think of King James?” on my Facebook page last week and the response was almost entirely negative. Okay, calling him ‘King’ James seemed to piss people off most, but I never coined the name.

So why is he still being criticised?

First of all, there is no escaping that most people feel what he did to Cleveland was wrong. At the very least, you have to admit the way he handled the situation was terrible. If you’re not familiar, basically, James’s contract with the Cav’s had expired and was eligible as a free agent. Unfortunately, with many sides wanting him on their roster, James turned his choice into The Decision – a televised announcement where he told the world he would be signing for the Miami Heat in the autumn.

I think people were pissed mainly due to the fact that his old team, Cleveland, never found out until moments before the televised broadcast that he wouldn’t be signing on with them again next season. A little disrespectful, I guess.

However, people saying that LeBron screwed the Cav’s over is completely unfair, in my opinion.

This is a guy who had carried that franchise on his back for seven seasons, leading them to four consecutive play-off berths, including the sides first and only appearance in the NBA Finals in 2007. Even both of LeBron’s MVP titles came as a Cavalier – the only Cav’ ever receive the title.

The opportunity to play with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh down in Miami must have been a weight off James’s mind, knowing that he didn’t have to be the superstar night after night (even if he still is).

Bosh, LeBron & Wade - Miami's 3peat?

Unfortunately, it’s hard to win a championship if you’re not a ‘clutch’ player – and I’m too often reminded that that’s the case with LeBron. Be it losing form in the 4th quarter, or bottling it completely in the play-offs, it seems that everyone is of the opinion that he can’t do it when it matters.

Maybe he puts so much into the rest of the match that come the 4th he is spent? Or maybe others up their game in this period to stop him playing his natural game? However, I feel I’m clutching (no pun intended) at straws on this one. With no Championship ring on his knuckles, it’s kinda hard to argue.

With comparisons to Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant – who have 11 NBA rings between them – being made throughout his career, LeBron will never be allowed to just be himself. Living in the shadows of greatness can’t be easy if you’re truly great yourself.

Personally, I feel it’s only a matter of time before James wins the NBA finals trophy – maybe even this year – and when he does, I don’t think it’ll be a one off. They say the first is the most difficult, right?

At 27, time is on his side, with probably another 10 years at the top if he stays injury free. Besides, Jordan was 28 before he won his first ring and he turned out okay, did he not?

Let me know what you think! Is LeBron destined to be one of basketball’s all time great players? Is he a bottle-job? If you don’t like him, tell me why? Surely it’s not because of that receding hairline…? Be sure to let me know!

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