Author Topic: A Theory on Why I Struggle To Enjoy Watching LeBron  (Read 1778 times)

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A Theory on Why I Struggle To Enjoy Watching LeBron
« on: May 08, 2018, 11:26:35 AM »

Offline PhoSita

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OK, a confession.  I'm probably not alone in this, but I don't particularly like LeBron.

As a celebrity personality, he seems like a good enough guy.  The gravity of his presence in a franchise seems to warp and twist things over time to the point that there is organizational fatigue in dysfunction almost by default, but I can't entirely blame him for that.  Like Jordan before him, he's somewhat earned it.  I recognize every generational superstar can't be Tim Duncan.

On the court, he's a savant.  Probably the GOAT, although there will always be an argument for Jordan, and he has to play another 5+ years at a really high level to match Kareem's longevity.  It's incredible what he's doing at his age. We can mention the specter of PEDs but if he's using them I'm certain he's not alone in this league, and that doesn't invalidate what he's accomplished.

And as to the on court stuff, it's weird to find that I have such a hard time wanting to watch LeBron and enjoying it when he plays so well.  I like ball movement, I like passing, I like unselfish players.  LeBron isn't selfish on the court.  He's elite in virtually every area and he has unsurpassed court vision and creativity.  I guess I do tend to dislike that every team he's on inevitably bends toward whatever he wants to do.  He is the team and the coach and the system, always.  He seems to want to be surrounded by guys that don't need to make decisions with the ball.  That makes his teams a little bit uninteresting to me in terms of how they play offense, despite how deadly they are. 

Still, I don't think that's it.  I enjoy plenty of superstars that hold the ball a lot and don't empower their teammates to do things.  Not every superstar can be Al Horford or Steve Nash.


I was thinking about this in the wake of the Raptors getting smoked -- again -- by the Cavs, and I realized something that feels close to the heart of it:

LeBron makes being a serious basketball fan feel like a waste of time, at least when it comes to understanding the playoffs. 


What's the point of knowing things about roster construction, cap space, threes versus twos, coaching strategies, ideal bench lineups, and so on ... when LeBron cuts through all of that and makes it very simple: Which team has LeBron?

The Raptors won close to 60 games this year.  They had the point differential to match that win total.  On paper they were clearly the best team in the East.  They should have beaten the Cavs in 5, on paper.

Not just on paper, either.  You could have looked at the tape and talked about the bevy of useful players on the Raptors.  You could have talked about how they changed their offense to be more versatile and efficient.  You could have talked about the intangibles of a core group of players that had played together a while, with a coach who had seen plenty in the playoffs and learned many tough lessons.

But the casual fan who never watches NBA basketball except in late April and May could have tuned in to see the score of any of the Cavs games against the Raptors and done just as good as job as you or I explaining what was happening:

LeBron.


Two years ago, the Warriors won 73 games and were the triumph of threes over twos, of building through the draft, of creative lineups.  Any "smart" basketball fan would have said, no way can they lose to the Cavs, even with a Draymond suspension and a Curry injury.

LeBron flew in like a block on a layup in transition and smacked away any notion of the superiority of "smart" fans -- he was the only thing that mattered. 

And you know, I don't like feeling that following the sport, paying attention to the regular season, listening to podcasts, and so on, that all of that doesn't matter at all when it comes to understanding what happens in the games that are most important.

I imagine if I'd been old enough to be a serious fan during the 90s I would've felt similarly about Jordan.

So bottom line, I think it's a vanity thing, an ego thing.  It feels good to feel like investing time to understand the nerdy stuff of basketball helps to appreciate what happens in the most important games.  It doesn't feel good to think that this sport in which I invest so much time and energy really can be as simple as who has LeBron on their team.  Then it feels kind of frivolous and silly.


What do you think?  Anybody identify with what I'm saying here? 
« Last Edit: May 08, 2018, 11:31:58 AM by PhoSita »
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Re: A Theory on Why I Struggle To Enjoy Watching LeBron
« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2018, 11:38:38 AM »

Offline colincb

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There have been any number of transcendent players in the NBA (Bird and Russell, for example). I've enjoyed watching them all. Even better when they've had opponents of similar stature. Lebron's a whiner to be sure, but he still one of the greatest ever and people will be talking about how great he was long after he leaves the court.

As for the Raptors, it was difficult watching them shrink, but not unexpected by me, or you I suspect.
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Re: A Theory on Why I Struggle To Enjoy Watching LeBron
« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2018, 11:40:20 AM »

Offline PhoSita

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There have been any number of transcendent players in the NBA (Bird and Russell, for example). I've enjoyed watching them all. Even better when they've had opponents of similar stature. Lebron's a whiner to be sure, but he still one of the greatest ever and people will be talking about how great he was long after he leaves the court.

As for the Raptors, it was difficult watching them shrink, but not unexpected by me, or you I suspect.

I wasn't surprised to see the Raptors lose.  I was surprised that they completely folded as though they were an 8th seed and the Cavs were a 65 win 1 seed.
You値l have to excuse my lengthiness葉he reason I dread writing letters is because I am so apt to get to slinging wisdom & forget to let up. Thus much precious time is lost.
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Re: A Theory on Why I Struggle To Enjoy Watching LeBron
« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2018, 11:46:03 AM »

Offline Moranis

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There have been any number of transcendent players in the NBA (Bird and Russell, for example). I've enjoyed watching them all. Even better when they've had opponents of similar stature. Lebron's a whiner to be sure, but he still one of the greatest ever and people will be talking about how great he was long after he leaves the court.

As for the Raptors, it was difficult watching them shrink, but not unexpected by me, or you I suspect.

I wasn't surprised to see the Raptors lose.  I was surprised that they completely folded as though they were an 8th seed and the Cavs were a 65 win 1 seed.
why though?  The Raptors were swept by the Cavs last year and beaten fairly easily the year before by Cleveland as well.  The Raptors just aren't built to beat the Cavs.  They just don't match up well with them and they have no one that can even bother James defensively.  Basketball is a game of match-ups and certain teams are just poor match-ups for other teams.  The Pacers and the Celtics match-up much better against the Cavs then the Raptors do (the Sixers do as well, but let's hope we don't get to see that series).  James dominance over the East is an Eastern Conference match-up problem and just generally a result of the overall lack of transcendent players in the East.  That doesn't exist in the West and the Finals results reflect that fact. 

Re: A Theory on Why I Struggle To Enjoy Watching LeBron
« Reply #4 on: May 08, 2018, 11:52:41 AM »

Offline PhoSita

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why though?  The Raptors were swept by the Cavs last year and beaten fairly easily the year before by Cleveland as well.  The Raptors just aren't built to beat the Cavs.  They just don't match up well with them and they have no one that can even bother James defensively.  Basketball is a game of match-ups and certain teams are just poor match-ups for other teams.  The Pacers and the Celtics match-up much better against the Cavs then the Raptors do (the Sixers do as well, but let's hope we don't get to see that series).  James dominance over the East is an Eastern Conference match-up problem and just generally a result of the overall lack of transcendent players in the East.  That doesn't exist in the West and the Finals results reflect that fact.


Well, this is going exactly to what I'm saying.  You're suggesting that this is as simple as "LeBron is a matchup problem for the Raptors," which is another way of saying "The Raptors don't have LeBron and the Cavs do."

I guess I thought that maybe team construction and experience and coaching and all of those things might matter.  Clearly that was silly.
You値l have to excuse my lengthiness葉he reason I dread writing letters is because I am so apt to get to slinging wisdom & forget to let up. Thus much precious time is lost.
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Re: A Theory on Why I Struggle To Enjoy Watching LeBron
« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2018, 11:54:18 AM »

Offline pearljammer10

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Despite the number one seed I have never seen Toronto as that good or as a real threat to be contenders. They just don't have all the pieces they need and Lowry, Derozan need to be 2a/2b not number 1 options.
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Re: A Theory on Why I Struggle To Enjoy Watching LeBron
« Reply #6 on: May 08, 2018, 11:57:49 AM »

Offline Green-18

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TP for an awesome post!  I've learned to accept that LeBron is the exception to most rules when it comes to analyzing the game of basketball.  My distaste for LeBron has more to do with the Jordan/GOAT argument than anything else.  These four events have made it so difficult to enjoy his accomplishments.

1.  "The Decision" and formation of the Big Three in Miami.  How about the ridiculous introductory event?  Not 1, Not 2, Not 3, Not 4, Not 5, Not 6, Not 7..........

2.  His blatant fear against the Mavericks during his first NBA Finals in Miami.  LeBron went beyond being "unselfish" when he deferred to teammates throughout this series.  He was clearly afraid of the moment as a heavy favorite.

3.  His poor attitude during press conferences throughout the 2014 Finals, where the Spurs absolutely smacked down the Heat.  LeBron made everything about his stats, saying that he was shocked they were losing despite his amazing numbers.

4.  Conveniently going "home" to Cleveland when the circumstances allowed him to put together a new and younger Big Three.

At the end of the day LeBron has been able to accomplish more with less than any player in NBA history.  No one can ever take away the Finals win against Golden State.  The flip side of the argument is that his track record as a heavy favorite is worthy of criticism, especially for a player who deserves to be included in the GOAT argument.   

Re: A Theory on Why I Struggle To Enjoy Watching LeBron
« Reply #7 on: May 08, 2018, 12:15:02 PM »

Offline feckless

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I recently read that Terry Rozier grew up in a difficult situation and much of his early basketball development comes from living with his grandmother in Cleveland and playing in youth programs paid for by Lebron.  This would account for Lebron praising Rozier's play and linking their Ohio connection.  A nice version of Lebron's commitment to community.
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Re: A Theory on Why I Struggle To Enjoy Watching LeBron
« Reply #8 on: May 08, 2018, 12:17:42 PM »

Offline Green-18

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I recently read that Terry Rozier grew up in a difficult situation and much of his early basketball development comes from living with his grandmother in Cleveland and playing in youth programs paid for by Lebron.  This would account for Lebron praising Rozier's play and linking their Ohio connection.  A nice version of Lebron's commitment to community.

This is exactly why I keep everything within the context of basketball.  There's really not much to dislike about LeBron aside from the NBA drama. 

Re: A Theory on Why I Struggle To Enjoy Watching LeBron
« Reply #9 on: May 08, 2018, 12:20:38 PM »

Offline PhoSita

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2.  His blatant fear against the Mavericks during his first NBA Finals in Miami.  LeBron went beyond being "unselfish" when he deferred to teammates throughout this series.  He was clearly afraid of the moment as a heavy favorite.


I actually like that LeBron struggled against the Mavericks -- a team I deeply enjoyed watching -- and then used that experience to motivate him to improve his game.

Seeing LeBron struggle and falter makes it easier to appreciate when he succeeds.

That's part of my problem with him, as well.  He has had challenges in the Finals but I really dislike how he seems to cakewalk to the Finals year after year.  Part of that is his greatness and part of it is the fact that most years there are 0-1 teams in the East capable of defeating him.

If LeBron had to face some more adversity -- apart from the roster construction issues on the Cavs which are largely self-inflicted -- I think I'd enjoy it more when he won.
You値l have to excuse my lengthiness葉he reason I dread writing letters is because I am so apt to get to slinging wisdom & forget to let up. Thus much precious time is lost.
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Re: A Theory on Why I Struggle To Enjoy Watching LeBron
« Reply #10 on: May 08, 2018, 12:20:38 PM »

Offline Roy H.

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Interesting take. I don稚 feel the same way. I enjoy watching him play when it痴 purely basketball. He痴 a cerebral player who also combines every possible physical gift. He could have coasted and still been a HOFer, but he maximized his talent.

What I don稚 enjoy is the ego, the 適ing persona, the whining, etc.


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Re: A Theory on Why I Struggle To Enjoy Watching LeBron
« Reply #11 on: May 08, 2018, 12:20:39 PM »

Offline slamtheking

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I think the core of my dislike for Lebron is based on:
1. The absolute coddling of him by the league and referees.  It's blatant that he gets away with more violations (i.e. star treatment) than anyone else in the league.  He travels, palms, pushes, hacks, charges and other assorted violations that exceed what anyone else gets away with.  To me, that significantly reduces his accomplishments.  For full disclosure, I have that same issue with Jordan and with Shaq.  Jordan had to go through Larry and Magic then Detroit before becoming the anointed one and getting the mega-star treatment during his title runs.  Shaq received that anointment from the beginning when the league needed new star when Jordan first retired.  Lebron has enjoyed that same treatment from when he entered the league. 
2. "The Decision".  Pure grandstanding and player collusion to create his own 'superteam'.  sickening.  May have been permitted under the rules applied to the Heat but the league should have done something about this obvious player collusion.  Everything he accomplished with the Heat comes with an asterisk.  Went from strictly disliking him to outright rooting for his failure.  Should have had 4 titles if he was really GOAT material but the fact he could only achieve 2 even with his stacked team, and even then only as the second best player in that first title win behind Wade, diminished him in my eyes.  {I will admit that the title he won in Cleveland was impressive -- he had Kyrie and Love as his teammates but that finals was where he finally 'earned' a title in my eyes}
3. His absolute domination of the franchise he plays for -- each coach and GM must kowtow to his every wish or they have to worry about either being fired or him bolting for another golden opportunity that comes along.  He's a franchise cancer in the sense he holds it hostage to his desires/ambitions. 

He's clearly the best player of his generation.  It's not even close.  He has more than enough talent to be the dominant player on the court without any help from the officials.  He'd be a great player in any era but until I see him subject to the same rules as prior greats like Bird, Magic or early Jordan, I won't consider him to be in their class.  The league will never go back to the application of those rules because none of the current players could pull their offensive moves without what would be called travels and palming back in the 80's.

just my 2 cents on why I don't enjoy watching Lebron nor respect his 'accomplishments'

Re: A Theory on Why I Struggle To Enjoy Watching LeBron
« Reply #12 on: May 08, 2018, 12:22:54 PM »

Offline johnnygreen

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I think you need to re-evaluate your opinion about LeBron based on the remainder of the playoffs. It seems pretty obvious that Toronto is their own worst enemy. They have a mental hurdle they can't overcome when facing LeBron. I'm sure you remember how LeBron had that same mental hurdle with the Celtics big 3, and decided to form his own big 3 in Miami. Also, regarding Toronto, they were the number 1 seed basically because they were healthy all season, unlike Boston and Cleveland.

Re: A Theory on Why I Struggle To Enjoy Watching LeBron
« Reply #13 on: May 08, 2018, 12:23:03 PM »

Offline Donoghus

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Interesting take. I don稚 feel the same way. I enjoy watching him play when it痴 purely basketball. He痴 a cerebral player who also combines every possible physical gift. He could have coasted and still been a HOFer, but he maximized his talent.

What I don稚 enjoy is the ego, the 適ing persona, the whining, etc.

Pretty much how I feel.   On the court, he's fun to watch and certainly one of the alltime greats.  It's the other crap that rubs me the wrong way.


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Re: A Theory on Why I Struggle To Enjoy Watching LeBron
« Reply #14 on: May 08, 2018, 12:26:21 PM »

Offline Moranis

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why though?  The Raptors were swept by the Cavs last year and beaten fairly easily the year before by Cleveland as well.  The Raptors just aren't built to beat the Cavs.  They just don't match up well with them and they have no one that can even bother James defensively.  Basketball is a game of match-ups and certain teams are just poor match-ups for other teams.  The Pacers and the Celtics match-up much better against the Cavs then the Raptors do (the Sixers do as well, but let's hope we don't get to see that series).  James dominance over the East is an Eastern Conference match-up problem and just generally a result of the overall lack of transcendent players in the East.  That doesn't exist in the West and the Finals results reflect that fact.


Well, this is going exactly to what I'm saying.  You're suggesting that this is as simple as "LeBron is a matchup problem for the Raptors," which is another way of saying "The Raptors don't have LeBron and the Cavs do."

I guess I thought that maybe team construction and experience and coaching and all of those things might matter.  Clearly that was silly.
No I'm saying the Raptors weakest position is small forward.  Take the Celtics, we can throw Brown, Tatum, Morris, Horford, etc. against Lebron defensively.  That gives us a number of different looks and a number of ways to defend him.  Lebron is obviously a great player and he is never easy to defend, but Boston, unlike Toronto, actually has players capable of at least making him work for it.