The King of Inception
LeBron’s mind is the scene of the crime.
by Adam Sweeney / @AdamSweeney
“What’s the most resilient parasite? An Idea. A single idea from the human mind can build cities. An idea can transform the world and rewrite all the rules. Which is why I have to steal it.”
Christopher Nolan’s “Inception” is the mind-blowing cinematic masterpiece of the summer, proof that Hollywood, or one director at least, isn’t afraid to bend the rules. But as I sat in the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, TX at the midnight screening on Friday an idea crept from the back of my cerebral cortex and snuck its way into my consciousness. We have seen this story before. The same characters. Different names. With all due respect to Mr. Nolan, a certain self-proclaimed “King” has stolen your idea. Allow me to get you reacquainted with the main characters.
The Extractor- LeBron James
“The seed that we planted in this man’s mind may change everything.”
In Inception, we meet our protagonist Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), a man blessed with the ability to enter dreams and plant ideas that have the capacity to change peoples’ lives. Sadly, for all the talent the prodigy has, he is unable to fully realize his potential because of his twisted relationship with a lover who is consumed with keeping him in limbo. In order to come to terms with himself, he will have to assemble a team that will journey into the depths of his mind and find an idea that has been lurking for a long time. Sound familiar?
On July 8, 2010, LeBron James officially warped entire cities’ dreams by recreating the basketball labyrinth that is the National Basketball Association. He stole an idea and the hearts of Cleveland fans everywhere in an hour. Or did he? No, the inception of what would become the Miami triumvirate had been placed two years ago during the 2008 Summer Olympics with the help of…
The Architect (Dwyane Wade)
“You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.”
Cobb forges a working relationship with Ariadne (Ellen Page), the two being introduced by Miles (Michael Caine), Ariadne’s professor, who naturally is Pat Riley in our adaptation. Ariadne is a dream architect who has all the skills that Cobb has, plus an ability to create dreamscapes quicker, much in the way that Wade has been able to find the promised land of title-dom quicker than James has. LeBron wasn’t going to be able to navigate the maze to a championship on his own so he found a group of willing allies that would help him recreate the maze. Wade would use his assets to take LeBron deeper but it will be LeBron who risks it all, setting himself up to become the greatest villain in basketball, to take hold of his dream.
Right now LeBron is soaking up the Sun on South Beach and being introduced in celebrations that would make Hulk Hogan’s jaw drop. We have never seen anything like this. Of course we haven’t. LeBron is changing how we view the basketball world. But there is a price to pay for entering another’s mind and shaking it up. Enter…
Mal, the scorned lover (Dan Gilbert/ The city of Cleveland)
“With the slightest disturbance, dreams are gonna collapse.”
There is no question that the film’s narrative is centered around Cobb/LeBron. Worlds are born and collapse based on his very thought. For LeBron, the lover’s world that came tumbling down to ruins came in the form of Cavs owner Dan Gilbert and Cleveland, who had placed all their expectations on his back. What Dan Gilbert and Cleveland failed to realize was that his dream wasn’t LeBron’s dream. “Why can’t we grow old together,” they ask. “Don’t you remember? We did,” is LeBron/Cobb’s reply. Love or hate it, LeBron James gave the Cleveland Cavaliers seven years that were nothing short of being magical. James singlehandedly pushed a franchise to the peak of greatness. But the fact is that LeBron’s ceiling is a bit higher than the Cleveland Cavaliers can ascend to. The elusive championship has been a seven year itch that Cleveland couldn’t scratch. His dreams are more complex and he has the power to bend them to his will. His old lover, Cleveland, couldn’t do that so now it’s time to move on and find a new reality, a reality that nobody has seen before.
With an arch-rival and lost lover hiding in the shadows waiting for him to slip and fall, James still needed another counterpart…
The Point Man (Chris Bosh)
“There is nothing quite like it.”
While Cobb and Ariadne dive headfirst into a dream, they rely on a partner, The Point Man (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) to be able to bring them back at the end. He doesn’t get the credit or screen-time that his two more recognizable friends will but his effort is critical for the team to be able to pull off the heist of a lifetime. He will bail the duo out when things are getting out of hand. In essence, Chris Bosh is Miami’s ace in the hole.
The Tourist (Pat Riley)
“Downwards is the only way forward.”
Let’s not forget the man who helped fund the entire heist. Saito (Ken Watanabe) is an aging businessman whose best days seem to be behind him. In order to insure that Cobol Engineering (Chicago or New York) doesn’t become a superpower, Saito/Riley promises a prize that Cobb/LeBron can’t get on his own, a chance to make his dreams real, also allowing him the chance to come to terms with the guilt he carries over his inability to make his lover’s , Mal/Cleveland, dreams come to fruition. “There’s no room for tourists on this job,” Saito is told but he’s a savvy and persuasive figure. Riley is no different. He is the ultimate NBA tourist, taking over L.A., New York and Miami. Cobb/LeBron is the mastermind to do the job but Saito/Riley insures the heist is possible. With his help, LeBron understands that he is incapable of making his dream a reality if he stands still. He didn’t have the pieces to make the title heist work in C-Town. Downward, literally in South Beach, is the only way forward for The Chosen One.
Aside from the obvious dangers of failure and tarnishing of his legacy, LeBron has to understand that he is altering others’ dreams. That doesn’t sit well with the figures whose worlds are being torn apart. Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Charles Barkley, a trio of dreamers in the golden age of roundball, are lining up as projections that would detract from James’ decision to change the format of the NBA. They have questioned LeBron’s passion for greatness, claiming he has forfeited his right to be mentioned as the greatest player of all-time. For a group of players that lifted us up so many times and allowed us to gaze at the stars, they are sadly limited by their own realities and inability to think outside the competitive box. The world in which they existed as players isn’t the same as the one in which the new generation of stars in the NBA exist. This is LeBron’s dream, whose origins have been planted in the minds of basketball fans everywhere years ago.
What makes Inception such a novel vehicle isn’t the story itself but the fact that it is left to our interpretation. Naturally, the saga of LeBron James’s NBA career is no different. For some, LeBron James’ decision is a blessing poured down by the NBA Gods. For other pitiful heartbroken souls, the Gods have spit on them, firing down meteors of betrayal and unleashing earthquakes of futility that threaten to swallow them. But the Gods didn’t create this world. At the sake of feeding his ego, and we all know that isn’t needed, LeBron imagined this. Welcome to LeBron James’ mind, where the line between dreams and reality has now disappeared. We just have to wait for the kick and see where we end up.