Preying on other people’s misery is not something I make a habit of. Not that LeBron James’ life is one of misery. And yet, like the whole of Cleveland, most of LA and a good majority of basketball fans across the country, I just couldn’t help the grin on my face at seeing LeBron James’ expression at losing the championship at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks.
I have no special affection for Dallas or the Mavs (although I have a lot of respect for Jason Kidd) but, small consolation, it turns out my team was eliminated by the future champions. Above all, they served a giant helping of humble pie to Mr. James who, nearly a year ago, decided to leave Cleveland in search of a team who could give him a much sought and elusive title. That was his very understandable prerogative, he was a free agent, but the whole world agreed that he should have left the city of his birth and the one who crowned him a basketball icon with more class than announcing his decision at a televised press-conference, his secret guarded for days, boasting that Miami would go on to win not 5, not 6 but 7 championships and more under his leadership. It seems that such a feat will have to wait to, at least, next year.
Sports heroes are fickle, as Kobe Bryant learnt, when his turn came to learn the humility lesson and, in Mr. James’ defense, keeping one’s wits when money, fame, women, sponsorships and a grand life are at one’s disposal, in the absence of real self-knowledge, education and experience, is not easy. This might be LeBron James’ best lesson yet, the one who will turn him into a real champion. In the meantime, I will try to wipe the grin off my face.
What will stay with me about this particular season was how much the Mavericks’ players wanted to win. It was written over each of their faces and in the real team effort they put in time after time, which only goes to show that banding together extra talented players might get you to the finals but won’t win you the trophy.
The Mavericks’ expression is the same one that can be found on those, in all walks of life, who don’t doubt the pursuit of their endeavours. I used to think it was the prerogative and the folly of the young but I am not so sure anymore. Just because I am struggling to find that certainty, I would have to throw in the towel for good if I thought it wasn’t possible to regain it.
Summer homework for Mr. James – finding the way back to the humility of his beginnings.
Summer homework for me – finding the way back to thinking anything is still possible.