It is my belief that consumers do not always know precisely what they want. Instead, we listen to what others tell us we should desire. We listen to “suggested” and “recommended for you” playlists on music streaming services. We buy items suggested to us on Amazon, and watch movies critically acclaimed by others. Want to try a new restaurant? The first thing we do is check the Yelp review. I am not here to condemn the way the world works. I simply want to challenge the way fans of basketball view LeBron James and his place in the NBA.
You want change in the NBA? Are you sure?
Lets look at golf. One of the oldest and most diverse sports in existence. It has a variety of courses as well as a leader board with golfers from all over the planet. New golfers rise and fall all the time. Who knows who the next up and coming young golfer will be. Exciting right? Not exactly. When golf was at its most popular, it was also at its most predictable. Men and women across the nation would turn off NFL, NBA, and MLB games to watch a man in a red polo shirt and black slacks strike fear into the hearts of his competition. Tiger Woods dominated golf in a way that created predictability, and fans soaked it up. His fall from power threw the sport of golf back into an abyss of irrelevance once more. The reason the 2018 Masters ratings were up 14% over last year was simply because Tiger participated in it! Fans love dynasties (or at least love to hate them). Whether fans wished Tiger the best, or wanted to see him fail, they watched all the same.
This same desire is instilled in the heart of every true basketball fan, the problem is they’re told not to listen to it.
People Are Tired of LeBron Because They’re Told To Be
A common theme around the sport of basketball right now is parity. This season there were cries for a playoff re-format to make the results more unpredictable. An imminent doom is now on the way according to those who have influence around the league. A doom which they claim comes from super teams and the basketball Hercules known as Lebron James. Fans are told to dislike anything that looks like a threat to parity and unpredictability. No wonder the term “Lebron Fatigue” is becoming more commonplace. The reason? Lebron is the complete antithesis of what today’s basketball fans are told to support. This is why articles titled “Has Kevin Durant Surpassed Lebron James as the NBA’s Best Player” or “ 5 Reasons Why Kawhi Leonard has surpassed Lebron James as the NBA’s Best Player“, have existed since 2014. There is a growing movement that Lebron must be replaced. It’s almost as if some believe the NBA cannot evolve again until Lebron finally exits stage left. That is why there is a growing sense of eagerness to take his crown and give it to someone else, even if no one truly believes the replacement is deserving of it.
This is why Lebron has not won an MVP award since the 2013 season, despite his overall improvement.
2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18
27.1 ppg 25.3 ppg 25.3 ppg 26.4 ppg 27.5 ppg
6.9 rpg 6.0 rpg 7.4 rpg 8.6 rpg 8.6 rpg
6.3 apg 7.4 apg 6.8 apg 8.7 apg 9.1 apg
54 wins 37 wins 57 wins 51 wins 50 wins
Those with votes are simply tired of voting for him. Since Lebron began his stranglehold over the league 15 years ago, he has appeared in the NBA finals 9 times, that is approximately 60% of his career. The last time Lebron missed the NBA finals (2010), the author of this post was in 7th grade, still wearing silly bands and listening to the Black Eyed Peas. And he is not alone. There is an entire generation of basketball fans for which James and the finals are synonymous, simply because it is all they have ever known.
Regardless of what is said about the state of the league, the truth is evident if you are willing to look for it. Lebron James-lead teams have been in the top 3 in nationally televised games over the last decade. The reason I believe so strongly that James is being unfairly treated by today’s generation of basketball fans is simple. We’ve seen this type of individual dominance one other time, but with a much warmer reception by those who bore witness to it. The player was Michael Jordan, and the world was much more reverent toward him. There was no one rushing to replace Michael Jordan. There were no cries for his crown. The Chicago Bulls won 3 consecutive NBA finals, twice. Not a single one of them went to a game 7. There was never any doubt that the Bulls would win those rings. Yet, the 1998 Bulls-Jazz finals remains the most watched finals series of all time. Why? Because no one worried about unpredictability. Those who witnessed it simply enjoyed it. They didn’t take it for granted because many believed there would never again be a player as individually dominant as Michael Jordan.
Lebron’s dominance is viewed as an inconvenience
He was given an impossibly heavy label to carry as “The Chosen One“, and he has lived up to it. He lead the league in minutes at age 33, and just finished arguably the greatest postseason performance of all time with
75% from the field 35 ppg 9 apg 9 rpg 1.5 spg
He may have a little less hair than he did back in 2003, but James continues to be a one man wrecking crew. Oh, and he just placed the heaviest legacy in American sports on his aging shoulders by joining the Los Angeles Lakers. So go ahead, crown a new king. Boo him off the stage, and cheer for him to retire. Though I warn you, once those curtains close and those lights shut off you’re going to feel a little empty inside.
I hope then you enjoy your basketball with fewer story-lines, maybe then you can root for a team with a cool uniform or something. I recommend the Jazz, they have a great colorway.
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