Posts Tagged ‘Mike Brown’
(The reasons lie with us as much as they do with him)
1) Throughout his amateur and professional career, I have not seen enough emphasis put on developing all aspects of LeBron’s basketball skills. AAU, High School, and now NBA coaches are so enamored with his talent and athleticism, and the fact that they have a center’s size and power (ok a PF), a PG’s speed and quickness, a wing players athleticism, body control, and grace, they lose sight of preaching and teaching. Be it the big things, such as footwork, positioning, back to the basket skill, or intangibles such as never quitting, always giving maximum effort, good sportsmanship, etc. I understand that you can’t instill “the killer”….”the mass murderer”….”the genocidal cool, calm, and collected megalomaniac” that existed within Michael, Larry, Earvin, Isiah, Reggie, Kobe, or even A.I. I get that you can’t MAKE someone into a clutch player; however, there are so many little chinks in our gladiator’s armor that we all are bearing “witness” too now. Flaws that have been pointed to, but the roar of the coliseum drown out any reasonable ear and the lust for the worlds “next”, combined with the “knee-jerking” “Sportscenter highlight”-thirsty audience that left no room for constructive criticism. And much like a child left to be raised by the television set he/she sits in front of, so was LeBron coached by the people of the coliseum of his Rome: “stanleys”, lemmings, fans, and the media as much as he was placed in a disciplined, nurturing, ethics-building, skill developing, integrity-fostering environment. We celebrated him so much and so fast, anointing him to be the “heir apparent” to a throne once sat on by a man who put the countless hours into honing his craft and developing his skill. A man whose body was dashed upon the rocks of Detroit’s arena…a man so consumed with greatness and even further consumed by winning, that his sheer will could get him wins, when his 48-inch vertical and cat quickness exited stage left.
To the masses, fans, “stanleys”, lemmings, yes-men, enablers, scouts, handlers, managers, and coaches; I ask: “What now?”…and “is this all LeBron?…or do you have some level of responsibility and accountability in this?”
2) Fatherless Boys: I don’t know much about LeBron’s father or his “father-figures”, who raised him, or what their value systems look like. I do know as an intelligent young man, he often understands what to say, when to say it, and to whom to say it, in terms of the media and how it will resonate with the “fans”. He is very conscious of his image, sensitive to his brand’s direction, and cognizant of the need to “say the right things”. He has (up until recent times) been very politically correct. I attribute this to his “handlers” (shout-out to Maverick Carter, you may want to change your first name right now or go by your middle name though), but also LeBron is pretty savvy in knowing who to have guide him. All this being said, there have been a number of moments where his character development comes into question. There are those times when he walks off the court without shaking hands with the opposing team. There is the dancing and shucking and jiving in other peoples’ arenas. There are the moments when his Momma goes “HAM” and “acts a fool”. Who is there to guide him? Who is there as a confidant to listen and offer sound, non-”yes-man” advice? Who is there to be the opposite of coach Mike “Stanley Fan” Brown? Who counsels him? Who yells at LeBron? Who tells him to get his big ass in the post and get mean, and get aggressive against point guards and shooting guards? Who does he look up to and respect? Has he had to grow, groom, and learn on his own for the most part? Has he had to figure this out on his own as we all look on, heckling, laughing, supporting, hating, and lambasting him? I don’t know the answer to these questions, but if he has, I actually think he’s done a damn good job of raising himself. However, without that influence, he will never get to that “next level”. I use one of my favorite players of all time: Allen Iverson. Prior to Allen submitting to Coach Larry Brown’s tutoring, mentoring, scolding, and chiding, Iverson was running amuck. But the brief, stern, fatherly, guiding direction of Larry got him focused enough at 5’10” and 155 lbs to take a team consisting of invalids, failures, intramural players, and trash-truck drivers to the NBA Finals. I attribute this to the “father-figure” influence…that wise and guiding voice that tells you what you NEED to hear, not what you want to hear.
3) Global Icon & Brand versus Greatest Of All Time (Winner): We’ve reached a point in society where everything…EVERYTHING (and I’m speaking both in the world of sports and beyond) is about what will generate revenues, profit margins, and drive sales. From 5th grade on (yes they nationally rank basketball players from 5th grade on…WHO THE F%#K cares who is the top ranked 5th or 6th grader?), the engine of the great marketing machines are trolling for that one stand-out player they can latch their claws into and create “The Player”…”THE HEIR APPARENT”. The shoe companies are the first level, the dirtiest, and with the least amount of shame. They begin by pushing athletic wear and sneakers on the kids’ amateur teams (AAU and the like). These scoundrels are to amateur athletics what tobacco is to us all. Well okay…perhaps a little strong, perhaps a little harsh, but you catch my drift. It then expands to include food and beverage companies, apparel companies, and the list of things to sell, brands, and companies grow exponentially on the backs of these young athletes. And what suffers? The purity of the game? Definitely the soul of basketball? Absolutely! Is Dr. Naismith turning over in his grave, thinking of how it got from a peach basket to this? Of course he is. Beyond that though, the sport which was crafted to be for fun, joy, growth and development, good health, entertainment, and camaraderie, becomes about endorsements. No longer are we concerned with the purity of the game, or even winning (let alone the other more noble concepts). Much like Congress is subject to the whims of special interest (lobbyists own the Hill, you ain’t know?). The sport is subject to the whims of big money corporations and his brother commercial mass appeal. And where does LeBron James fit into all of this? He is just the latest, and quite possibly the greatest example of that nest, “The Player”. He IS the personification of the machine. Where Michael Jordan and his generation were merely concerned with getting to the marquee colleges and playing for the best coaches, giving them the shot at a National Title and perhaps an NBA look, LeBron and his generation are courted for AAU “contracts” as freshman and sophomores in high school. Where Mike was signing endorsement deals 2 and 3 years into his tenure, LeBron was in a Hummer his senior year and signed a $100 million endorsement deal with Nike before he graduated high school. And can you blame him? Growing up in a single-parent home, low-to-moderate income, and your talent is assessed a value before you can drive, vote, or drink. I credit LeBron for being an intelligent person in knowing that his talent and abilities were his ticket. While basketball is great, what it brings the global marketplace and the ability to be the salesman for ANY product may be paramount to being the Greatest Basketball Player to ever live. As long as he’s in the top 50 (top 10 currently playing), he is worth billions and will reap that reward and success. And so, his value system and priorities may include advancing his net worth into the billionaire category, and is that his fault or the world/marketplace he grew up in? Michael Jordan, Wilt, Kareem, Magic, Isiah, Dr. J, Bird, Dominique, etc…they got their just due financially from being the greatest, arguably the greatest, or on the list somewhere near the top. The opportunity to be the wealthiest sports icon ever never really crossed their minds, or at least it didn’t inhibit their play. They wanted to win worse than they wanted that check and the “lights, glamour, glitters, and gold”. When the scroll unfolded, it was the beast that rose and conquered the courts (shout out to Nasir Olu Bin Dara Jones), not the endorsers. But who can fault James for the times he has grown up in? We are a product of our environment. What is more valuable, the riches and rewards of being very good, even great…or the triumph of reaching full potential and striving with all ones might for “GREATEST OF ALL TIME” status? It is a conversation only LeBron can have with himself, and perhaps a select few wise men. But think about the time and place and you will understand the man.