LeBron James is someone who isn’t shy of the spotlight. He’s been heralded the king since high school and has been the star of the show ever since. However, in the past couple of years, that spotlight on James has changed and I think he has noticed that as well.
The phrase “face of the league” is often thrown around referring to the guy who holds the top position in the NBA. James has held that for a good majority of his career until about 2015. The emergence of Stephen Curry took the game by storm. He became a superstar for what seems like overnight. His game was something that was “new” in the league and fans all over the world gravitated to it.
Even when Cleveland made the remarkable comeback in the 2016 NBA Finals, NBA basketball was still all about number 30. Even during this time, we saw other names like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden rise to fruition.
All this did was take more and more shine off of James and direct it somewhere else. If you haven’t noticed, the five-time MVP award winner has been doing a lot of self-promotion; something that we’ve never seen him do before.
We’ve seen James post constant tweets, pictures, and videos of highlights of how great he’s been. He even let you know that he should be MVP. James has been patting himself on the back if you will and to a degree, I can’t argue it because it’s been well deserved. At the age of 35 to be having the season that he’s having it’s quite impressive.
However, the timing seems kind of funny. At a time where everyone is talking about the Curry’s, Westbrook’s, and Harden’s of the world, James is here letting you know what he’s done and what he is accomplishing. It seems a bit self-absorbing if you ask me. His latest actions show me that he’s not used to not having the spotlight. If you look at his career, it’s been all about King James.
The kid from Akron Ohio, the kid straight out of high school, the young player who took his team to the playoffs and so on and so on… James’s career has always been about James and what he’s doing. But now there’s so much talent in this league that the attention is starting to drift elsewhere and James doesn’t want to let that go.
For the first time in a long time, this situation may be out of his hands. While the attention is drifting away, we can all agree that it’s not because of how James is playing. But maybe more so how his team is performing. However, James’s greatness has been nothing less than superb and it wouldn’t be shocking if he rose as head honcho of the league once again.
Father time is undefeated and with LeBron James, it’s no different. The concept of time affects more than just the physical body. No one is arguing with LeBron’s impact this year. 2018 was one of his top three or four seasons statistically and he has a strong case for the Most Valuable Player award though James Harden will certainly bring that home. However, while we physically deteriorate with time the things around us grow and evolve in concept. Basketball is no different.
When LeBron entered the league we were not in this analytics heavy movement where teams are shooting (and making) an obscene amount of threes per game. Back to the basket bigs like Shaq and Dwight Howard were still dominating the league and the pace of the game was much slower. LeBron’s game has a place in every era of basketball, but teenagers run the world and determine what is hot in pop culture.
When I was younger I loved everything about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. When you’re a kid you like the people who are good which is why as a 90’s baby I continue to root for the Bulls, Dallas Cowboys, Duke Basketball, Michigan Football, and Yankees baseball on the days where I find baseball to be an acceptable part of my day. That being said, a big part of the hoop culture for folks around my age was dunking. We were OBSESSED with dunking. Stephen Curry arrived and changed that. His performance in the 2015-2016 season was a cultural phenomenon for young basketball players. Shooting the three is now cool, fun, and more effective than crashing into the paint repeatedly. The result has been new offenses and the near extinction of slow-paced, back to the basket basketball.
In this new era of positionless 4 around 1 basketball, the need for a great supporting cast of role players that can knock down threes is more important than ever. LeBron was at the height of his popularity when he was dominating and winning while surrounded by Shane Battier, Ray Allen, Mike Miller, and the other snipers that enabled him to control the game with his physicality and passing. Now LeBron’s team looks old and do not hit threes at the clip needed to beat the better teams anymore. What we see now is a valiant effort by the King every night to keep the Cavs afloat, but something about this team all season long has felt..weaker.
LeBron is the best on the planet but we as a community have widely accepted that the Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Boston Celtics, and Toronto Raptors simply have better rosters. This is the first time since James returned from Miami where the Cavs are not considered to be one of the elite rosters in the league. Times are changing and so is LeBron’s popularity due to the decline of the roster around him. Winning solves everything though. I think he will leave Cleveland at season’s end to pursue a championship elsewhere. If he ends up in a good spot with guys who do their jobs around him, I believe we will be back to living in the King’s league for a little while longer.