The LeBron narrative changes today, there’s no question about it.
The haters, the doubters, the naysayers, and the hecklers lost their biggest ammo tonight when LeBron hoisted that illusive hardware.
You could feel the tide shifting over the past few weeks as LeBron has been absolutely brilliant on the court—focused, poised, determined, and otherworldly in his basketball dominance. And then there was the steady grace with which he played—never too high, never too low, in victory and in loss he stayed calm and confident (although not the entitled kind of cockiness we’ve Witnessed in years past). We saw glimpses of friendly and even encouraging interaction with opposing players rarely displayed during playoff games. And of course, always the gracious winner in his post-game condolences to those in the wake of his destruction (his embrace of KD tonight was particularly moving—props to KD on that one, too, really). Gone are the pompous displays of self-aggrandizing celebrations—even his trademark Chalk Toss™ has been replaced by solem pre-game meditation—and there seems to be little talk of the LBJ brand and enterprise anymore… what’s left is simply the most dominating player in the game today.
Hate on that and you come out looking bad…
But you know what really washed away the red stain from that horrible summer a couple years ago for me? When LBJ was talking to Doris Burke and he said that this year he moved away from the hate that he uncharacteristically and even uncomfortably played with last year and focused on playing with Love and Joy, not feeling the pressure to prove anything to anyone else, but simply doing what he knows he can do to help those around him achieve their singular common goal.
And that was 100% apparent on the court—that was no fluff post-game comment. That was real. That was—to use LBJ Enterprise’s favorite buzz word—“Authentic.”
As always, Sports, the beautiful metaphor for life, does not disappoint. In sports, as in life and business and branding and so on, I honestly believe the only way we achieve the kind of meaningful success that resonates so deeply not only with ourselves, but even with our most ardent detractors (as I think we’re in the process of witnessing right now with LeBron) is when we succeed in a way that is genuinely authentic to our core being.
Gimmicks, acts, public displays for love, short-cuts, and tricks—even if successful—don’t win our hearts over. Had Miami and LeBron won last year, we wouldn’t be praising them. We’d be bitter and disappointed and jaded and hate the NBA and hate LeBron and hate the CBA loopholes and just hate, hate, hate, hate… And I guarantee you that it wouldn’t have meant as much as it did to LeBron as it did winning tonight, playing the way he played: with love, with joy, with grace, and with pure brutal animalistic and cerebral dominance of his hapless opponents.
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I should address here the irony of this post following my last one, Reality Wins. There I wordily expressed my affinity toward Kevin Durant and his “believable human narrative” over that of LeBron’s fabricated and plastic M.O.. The LBJ part mostly just took us up to the Decision, and set the table for America’s love affair with Kid Clutch—the whole point of the post. I could sense the tide was changing for LeBron—obviously, as a fan, hoping to be proven wrong—but I needed to get that out there before it was no longer relavant. i.e.: today. So, please forgive my blatant flip-flopping here. I said, in support of Durant, that “we want humans to win.” Well, tonight, a seemingly very good and definitely deserving human won. Congratulations are due.