Rest For The Weary
LeBron James proudly earned the mantle of greatness.
by Allen Powell II
And now he can rest.
After finally capturing his elusive first Championship—and doing so with dominant Playoff performances that will stand the test of time—LeBron James can rest. He can finally enjoy the physical and mental rest that he must desperately desire after expending an amazing amount of energy for so very long.
There were those basketball fans who immediately sought a way to diminish James’ accomplishment last night. They pointed to the strike-shortened season, and they complained about the sketchy calls made by referees during the NBA Finals. Some had the audacity to claim that the Oklahoma City Thunder lost this series on their own, and the Heat were just the lucky beneficiary of an inexplicable collapse… Fools have walked this Earth since time began, and they will walk this Earth until the lights go out.
Last night LeBron James moved beyond those discussions, at least for a little while. He exorcised the demons that reared their ugly heads during last year’s trip to the Finals. With relentless determination and precise focus, LeBron marched toward the mountain top. He conquered, and like any other conqueror, he would be wise to take a moment to rest and enjoy the journey before he resumes his conquests.
To be clear, this is just basketball. The Miami Heat victory will not change the world in any meaningful way. LeBron James is a multi-millionaire who altered his entire family’s destiny long ago, and a Championship will not affect that reality. If success is measured by an individual’s impact on the people he loves and cares about, then LeBron James was a success a very long time ago.
Yet, this victory was still necessary. Not just because of nebulous concepts like “basketball legacy,” but increasingly it felt necessary for a man’s psyche. Only the tiniest segment of humanity truly knows LeBron, but even those of us outside that circle could see that his failures and the reaction to those failures were slowly eroding something valuable within him.
He has explained that after his epic collapse against Dirk Nowitzki’s Mavericks, he went into a fugue that closely resembled serious depression. When he emerged from that dark place he made some promises to himself. He was going to improve as a basketball player and he was going to improve as a man. Those were admirable goals, but it was the perseverance he showed in his attempt to accomplish those goals that was really impressive.
There is something scary about experiencing failure, and knowing that the blame for that failure cannot be passed along to anyone else. But, humility can be found in examining those flaws that prevent success, and ultimately, turning those flaws into strengths provides an incomparable reward.
The basketball world was given the opportunity to watch a young man grow in his profession and grow in his life this year. In fits and starts, LeBron transformed his game and appeared to transform his mind. There was something mesmerizing about watching that growth, particularly because it came amid the cacophony of criticism that has come to dominate the media landscape. There has always been something captivating about watching humans become better versions of themselves, it is one of the strongest allures of parenthood.
LeBron is not perfect. He will never be perfect. Perfection is not a realistic expectation, and true basketball fans along with honest human beings understand this fact. But fans are right to expect the pursuit of perfection, and they should praise and honor those players who accept that challenge. Even though basketball is only entertainment, it is entertaining in part because it provides an example of mankind pushing itself to the outermost limits of human achievement.
LeBron undeniably accepted the challenge of pursuing perfection this year. He honestly assessed where he was lacking, and sought out those who could help him improve. The world watched him finally don the mantle of greatness that had been prematurely bestowed upon him before he had failed enough to appreciate it.
This year, LeBron not only fully grasped the true cost of the path he has chosen, but when asked to pay the toll, he did so gladly. LeBron earned this celebration, and more importantly, he earned his rest.