Have you ever played a younger person in video games or in sports and knew they had the physical skills to beat you but you were able to keep squeaking out wins because you had the mental edge. Each game got harder and harder and after the win you didn’t even celebrate like you used to. Your opponent may have believed your silence was a display of maturity, cockiness or a mixture of both but in reality you’re really asking yourself “how in the hell did I pull this one out?” But then it happens, they finally beat you and even though you saw it coming you’re still in a state of shock. “This has to be a fluke, let’s run it back.” Same results. The next stage of your competitive life slowly develops in front of your eyes and yeah you may squeak out a few close games during this stage but in the back of your mind you’re saying “damn they finally figured it out.”
Now at this point you can do either one of three things. 1) You develop other parts of your game to keep you relevant. 2) You respect your opponent, give them their props and quietly retire. 3) You create excuses to why you keep loosing and get mad at everyone but yourself.
A similar event took place in the NBA on May 20th 2012. After jumping out to a 2 games to 1 lead the Indiana Pacers found themselves in a great position to push their series lead 3 games to 1 against the heavily favored Miami Heat. I am in no way saying that the Pacers represent the elder player that I described in my opening paragraphs. If I were to describe the Pacers they would be Fredo Corleone mentally, while the Heat represent Michael and the rest of the league is Sonny. On that spring afternoon in Indianapolis the two superstars from the Miami Heat put on a show only rivaled by a well oiled, long running Broadway show. I, like any real basketball fan or player, said to myself as I stared at the television screen “damn they finally figured it out.” A week later Michael would calmly watch as Fredo is shot in the back of the head.
Okay, now please allow me to rant on the Pacers for just one moment. It was during this game I believe that they realized they had no business even being on the court with the Heat. This would explain Danny Grangers need to become a tough guy out of nowhere and confront LeBron on a number of occasions. Ladies and Gents that was not a display of toughness more like a display of fear. Scared of the moment, scared he was being exposed on national television by James defense, scared of James in general and scared that the viewing public realized that the name Danny Granger and franchise players should never be in the same sentence. The Pacers may as well get used to second round exits with Granger as their star player. I’m not sold on their coach either. I’m from Indiana so I know what him being the coach is all about. He looks the part and that’s good enough for them. I tell you someone else who coached a team in that state that looked the part too, Charlie Weis, and how did that turn out… I didn’t see any consistency in their offense the whole play offs. He was out coached my Spoelstra, hell he was out coached by Van Gundy. This is not a Pacers blog so allow me to digress.
Back to the Heat, but more specifically LeBron James. In the past month we have witnessed something special. The only knock on this guy when it comes to the game of basketball was that he wasn’t a closer and did not have any championships. To be honest people, myself included, were nick picking on the ONLY two things he hadn’t accomplished in the game of basketball until last week. Now those are two huge things to not have in your arsenal as a superstar athlete but if we look at the natural progression of anyone tying to master any craft that is usually the last step, completion. As an artist, I’m still learning the art of completion. You can only get to this step after you know the fundamentals backwards and forwards, up and down. It takes a lot of hours of studying, practice, preparation and dedication.
Most people don’t master or come close to mastering anything. Which is ironic that these same people judge the ones who are in the process of mastering their chosen craft.
Yeah LeBron still needs to work on his jump shot and I have no doubt that he will. But I’m here to say LeBron James is one of the closest I’ve seen to an individual mastering the game of basketball on all fronts. A lot of people watch him and enjoy the entertainment and joy he brings to the game. The dunks, the acrobatic shots, the no look passes. He’s mastered being a showman. Basketball purest enjoy watching him because of how hard he plays on both ends of the court, his knack for making the right play 99% of the time and how unselfish he plays. His basketball IQ is at a master’s level. I’ll never forget seeing his first NBA game against the Kings. Now here this kid is on a wide-open fast break during this fist pro game on national television and what does this kid do? I’ll tell you what 100% of us would have done, went for the mother of slam dunks as a way to show to the world we were worthy of all the hype. We would have hung on the rim a little bit longer to guarantee that we made the sports center top 10 list later that evening. What did LeBron do? He made a sweet shovel pass to a cutting teammate and got him the dunk. “Damn he gets it” is what I said sitting on my couch in Burbank California. “There’s no way anyone, let alone a 18 year old kid is this unselfish.” He was, he is.
I get why he left Cleveland. Hell I’m from the Midwest too and I broke out as soon as I could. Nothing against the Midwest but lets face it, what would you rather have in the trunk of your car, an ice scrapper or a beach umbrella? Would you rather track snow into your house or sand? Would you rather look at girls in their cute holiday sweaters or girls in bikinis? I answered yes to those questions and I’m not a rich athlete, so it was a no brainer for him. That was probably one of the only things he did for himself since becoming LeBron James and I’m not mad at it. As a basketball purest I think, no… I know, if he had brought a championship to Cleveland it would have been the story dreams are made off. One or two championships to Cleveland would have been the equivalent to Jordan’s six. I believe in my heart he could have done it too. Not because the organization would have brought the right pieces to the table but because I know he was going to eventually get to the point to where he is at now.
I’ll tell you what’s been surprising, the level of hate I’ve heard from people since he’s become a champion. I get hating while competing. Getting behind your guy or team and hating any guy or team standing in front of your team’s success. That’s what you’re supposed to do. But once it’s over, you lick your wounds and salute that person or team that defeated you or your team.
People, we only hate what we ain’t. Not only does this cover this subject, but life in general. You don’t take the time to hate or talk about anything that doesn’t strike a cord with you emotionally, or threatens you personally. I’ll use myself as an example. I’m a diehard Lakers fan. I’m a diehard Kobe fan. I’ve been reading about Kobe since my senior year of high school. We both graduated from the class of 1996. Seeing him do great, in my mind, was a way to represent for the kids born in 1978. I pull for anyone born that year, no matter their profession, career or what ever. I’m part of that, I feel I need to represent and do my part as well so when it’s all said and done people will look back and say “damn something must have been in the water in 1978, look at what these people contributed to the world.” So that’s where that comes from.
Magic Johnson is my favorite player of all time and was the seed the started my love affair for the Lakers franchise. You add to the mix the Los Angeles has been my favorite city since I was about 6 and it’s the perfect storm.
Now out of nowhere some kid from Ohio is threating to take the shine away from a few things I hold close to my heart when it comes to basketball. Well I gots to hate this guy… right. LOL. See that’s me being honest. But the truth of the matter is the only thing
I hated was the writing on the wall, that my perfect little world of basketball bliss was being threatened, would eventually come to an end and I knew years in advance who would be responsible for the slaying.
Fear Ladies and Gents, fear was the motivation. That’s me being honest. If I find myself hating anything, before I open my mouth I ask myself what do I fear about what ever that’s making me feels this way? Then I ask myself what can I do to get past it? Usually the answer is to work harder on myself or what ever I’m apart of. When it comes to something I have no control over, like sports, I acknowledge greatness and tip my hat to it. Congrats to LeBron James and the Miami Heat on the 2012 NBA World Championship.
Noooooow having said all that… GO LAKERS! Lol I may have to do a blog on the Lakers soon but I don’t know where to start and that’s a first because I always have an opinion when it comes to my team. But let it be known, the SHIT TALKING will be as high as always once the season starts because that’s what I do. Lakers 2013 Baby! Bring it on Heat, LeBron and all the fans. Los Angeles is built for it!
As always, thanks for your time!