I'm sure that by now, people probably think I have some sort of vendetta against future NBA Hall of Famer LeBron James. This couldn't be farther from the truth.
While living in Idaho, I actually went to the Champs Sports in the Boise Towne Square mall in autumn 2006 the day the Zoom LeBron IV's were released and paid cash money for them, which was what, $150? I wore those things to death. Foamposite works well in snow, so I literally wore these shoes everyone outside of formal events.
As an aspiring journalist in Augusta, Georgia, I first read about LeBron James in the September 2001 issue of Slam magazine. I was amazed by what I read in the story, because this guy wasn't that much older than me, and he was draped in all these new adidas threads. He had the carbon fiber KOBE's on; a clean adidas track suit, and didn't look that much stronger than my father, but was really tall.
(This is especially worth noting, because back in 2001 the ABCD Camp was still sponsored by adidas and legendary sneaker impresario Sonny Vaccaro.)
He didn't really have much of a nuclear family, outside of his mother, her boyfriend, his AAU and high school teammates, and his coaches. He sounded very reserved and mature for a 17-year-old kid. I could really relate to that, because as large as my family is, it's been very makeshift during some parts of my life, and I never really liked opening up to people I had just met when I was younger.
Throughout the story, LeBron displayed little idiosyncrasies that would portend an illuminant future, like signing autographs differently every single time he touched something, so that no one could fabricate his signature. I was just amazed by how normal he was as someone getting press in a major sports publication.
Fast forward to today, April 13th, 2009. LeBron James' Cleveland Cavaliers have secured the number one overall seed in the 2009 NBA Playoffs and he is as a heavy favorite to receive the NBA's coveted MVP award, and a lock for several other awards, such as All-NBA First Team, All-NBA Defensive First Team, et. al.
I just wonder: LeBron, as blessed as you are physically and mentally, do you really need Commissioner Stern to implement a rule so you can dominate even moreso next season? You take as much of a beating as anyone in today's NBA, but the crab dribble would literally have you averaging a triple-double next season. Truth be told, today's NBA is a fraudulent mockery of yesterday's NBA. NBA Hall of Famer Michael Jordan played against some of the toughest defenses and defenders in the annals of basketball history, and still dominated.
There is no hand-checking in today's NBA. There is now a three-second-in-the-key rule. You can actually play zone defense in today's NBA. Commissioner Stern, I understand you want to globalize the NBA. Yo entiendes todo eso; yo soy Latino. But at what cost?
I'm a very labile person and never put anything out of the picture. But are we really helping or hurting the legacies of players like LeBron James? Don't let the money distort your vision of the future of basketball.