The Decision: Answered?
The question is, Which way will LeBron go?
by Rodney David King
After watching the LeBron James press conference after the loss to the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals, it finally hit me. Being a hoops fan, I’ve heard the LeBron comparisons for years. Scottie Pippen didn’t help matters when he anointed LeBron better than Michael Jordan after a few terrific games in this year’s Playoffs.
It was clear after this series that LeBron James isn’t the next Michael Jordan and he’s not the next Magic Johnson. As I watch LeBron stoically stare into the crowd of cameras and tape recorders stumbling over his words, it finally came to me who LeBron resembles more as a player. LeBron James is becoming the next Allen Iverson. Look at the recent events. The mocking of Dirk Nowitzki the “regular people comment” and his overall demeanor on the court and with the media. When trying to figure out what player LeBron will more likely mimic, let’s look toward “The Answer.”
When AI entered the League, like LeBron, he was a young hotshot with a raw athletic ability rivaled by no one prior. No other point guard at the time could match Iverson in speed with and without the ball, or could play at the high level that he brought every night. While his talent was off the charts, his attitude was way below the line of acceptable and it showed throughout his career.
As much as you remember the ankle breaking crossovers and other highlight reel plays, you remember the off the court drama. The arrests, his clashes with coaches and his love/hate relationship with the media. Who can ever really forget his epic “Practice, what is practice” rant? AI will always be regarded as a great player by his fans and true supporters, but Iverson missed the target when it came to becoming the superstar that we figured he would be.
Like AI, the bar was set high for him before he even entered the League. His star was already placed in the sky, his name already etched in the history books. His path was already set by anyone who watched the game of basketball. Like Allen Iverson, after a few seasons filled with great individual statistics and achievements he was far from being the game-changing superstar we assumed he would be.
LeBron has a couple of MVP awards and a couple of 60-win seasons with the Cavs that he can brag about, but those positives can’t seem to hide the fact that his leadership ability and composure are up for question. While he’s not the mess that Iverson could be when it came to the media, he’s pretty close. His actions and comments during the Finals show that he doesn’t understand the impact his words and actions have.
Unlike AI, LeBron James has more time to work out his issues with teammates, fans and the media. He’s not the anti-hero that Iverson was. LeBron seems like he genuinely wants to be respected on and off the court. He seems to want his legacy to be more about what he did on the court than what was done off the court.
Time will be the only way to gauge LeBron James. He shouldn’t have to fill the shoes of any player other than his own. After eight seasons in the League, he’s still trying to find his way. By the end of his career, I bet LeBron not only finds the answer to his current woes, but his play on the court will force opponents to have a have to deal with a lot of questions.
How long it will take, only time will tell. And we’ll all be watching as his legacy unfolds.