Lebron Still Has A Legacy
June 14, 2011
Call me quirky, but I saw something that others missed during the NBA Finals, particularly in game 6.
Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki was confident and hooping like a street baller throughout the series, while my favorite, Lebron “King” James was lack-luster and often out of sync.
The talking heads in Cleveland were exuberant. The suits behind the desks were disdainful. And the fans were in shock. I was none of the above. Because I saw something that others missed during the NBA Finals.
I am a bit confused about the lack of emotional support from the African-American community for Lebron James. I grew up in Atlanta. Michael Jordan was the franchise player for the Chicago Bulls, but when he played we all (whether silently or openly) rooted for him to win.
Lebron James by most statisticians’ assessments could have been a statistic. But for the grace of God, and his awesome mother, his game (or gang) of choice very well could have rewarded him with teardrops under the eye. You feel me. Whether you like his mother or not, Lebron does not have a criminal record and he is in an apparently healthy relationship with the mother of his children. Lebron’s mother kept him out of the streets, and she taught him to be responsible. We fault the parents when children do wrong, but hesitate to congratulate them when they turn out well – especially when the parent is a single, black, mother.
The Cleveland Cavaliers’ owner and the fans acted as if Lebron was a runaway slave betraying his “good Massa” when he opted to leave last year, and they punished him with their everlasting mouths throughout the season – he could do nothing right. Without positive affirmation, even a great man falls short.
Dirk did not have the problem of re-affirmation, because his coach of many years, (a second father in Dirk’s own words) was there, from beginning to end. I do not recall seeing Lebron’s first, second, or surrogate father in the stands. What a great burden to bear. It must be difficult to feel the heat playing for the HEAT.
From the time we are old enough to establish ourselves good at anything, we need a cheering squad. For little girls it’s Daddy. For little boys…well, it’s still Daddy. Something about having a father to lean on in a crisis, to guide you through a tough situation is needful. Something about a man showing his support is priceless. Something about a reliable male in your corner when you play professional sports gives you that extra affirmation.
For example, consider my man Terrell Owens, super athlete, but no ring, no team, and no father on the sidelines. For all the success he has obtained in professional football, T. O. cried publicly about not having his father in his life growing up in Alabama – and how does he cope, by overcompensating with bravado. Many believe Lebron is guilty of the same. I prefer to think of the glass as not half empty and not half full, but rather overflowing. Nothing wrong with having too much of everything you need, to do what you need to do in your area of expertise. But, sometimes even all that and a bag of chips is not enough. Nothing takes the place of a good father.
In the African American community it is very common to not be raised with your father. The choices in Daddy’s absence, is often a father figure, or a hood figure.
What Lebron needed was for the African American community to act like a village instead of a child and show him the same support we showed Jordan even though we lived in Nutbush, Mississippi and were no more tied and endeared to the Bulls than a rat is to a cat.
As a child who grew up without her father, I know the feeling of desperation when you need a little encouragement. I know how it feels to be good, but never good enough for your own Daddy, and those feelings often manifest in the game of life.
Lebron, I’m glad you chose the ball over banging, hooping over hollering in the streets, and to be a Daddy to your boys over being a deadbeat. Your legacy is your commitment to your sons, and you are still the final champion, because I see something that others missed during the NBA Finals.
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