By Sam Doku
Tuesday, June 16, 2015 marked another chapter in the intriguing basketball career of LeBron James, the anointed son of Ohio, destined to help that city celebrate the thrill and mollifying feelings of winning a championship for the first time in many years.
Instead of thrill, however, it was agony; instead of joy, it was pain, and instead of somatic feelings of accomplishment, it was a nadir realization to James that basketball is a team sport in which the sum of the parts that constitute the whole is greater than any individual part.
Curry and the Warriors taught James and the Cavaliers stark lessons in team work as they upended the championship ambitions of the Cavaliers in a six-game thriller that ended 4-2 in favor of the former.
“I am the best player in the world, so I am confident of winning game six in Cleveland. It is that simple,” said James when asked about the chances of the Cavaliers in game six after they had lost game five in Oakland.
Although many of the sports prognosticators consciously and deliberately refused to critique James for his egoistic effusion, they covertly knew James had dug his own championship grave as far as the series was concerned.
For what that statement did was to take the fighting spirit out of many of his teammates, so although they played, it was a case of the body willing but the soul being moribund.
Perhaps James needs to study a couple of pages from the chapters of some of the game’s legends like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and Bill Russell, and he will realize that to motivate your team mates to play with their body, heart, and soul, you speak in the plural, not the first person.
A classic case of illustration was how Dennis Rodman sacrificed his body to frustrate Karl Malone and the Utah Jazz to commit many offensive fouls in the many basketball battles the Chicago Bulls and the Jazz engaged in, even as Rodman fought courageously and vehemently in the paint to win both offensive and defensive rebounds.
For, the Warriors are a cohesive unit with great chemistry who play like a perfect orchestra does, and such classic ballers would have considered themselves “punkish,” to borrow Stephen A. Smith of ESPN’s First Take adjective, to let LeBron James alone to single-handedly beat them, especially after his bold declaration that he is the best player in the world.
Watching the Warriors and the Cavaliers series, one felt as if one was watching the great Lionel Messi and Barcelona playing against Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid. Curry reminds soccer aficionados of the dribbling skills and fecund goal scoring acumen of Messi while James is a reflection of the power and precision of Ronaldo.
The sheer drama generated by the two teams in the series was out of this world; it was surreal. No wonder Magic Johnson commented on “Mike and Mike” that the mere thought of the series ending in game six made him feel as if something was missing in his life. Like many fans of the game, Magic wanted the series to go on and on because of the sheer beauty and intensity generated by the two teams.
Perhaps next year, we shall see a repeat of the two teams in the finals again. If that should happen, James must realize that in the affairs of humankind, God has used individuals to accomplish great things.
He used Moses to deliver the Israelites from Egypt; He used David to conquer Goliath; He used Sampson to teach us a divine lesson in keeping God’s secret to us to ourselves, and last but not least, He used Paul to spread the gospel of Jesus just as He has used Barack Obama to prove that blacks are also intelligent enough to lead the U.S. and the world. For that reason, Rachel Dolezal has successfully passed to be a black woman.
I guess what I want James to know and appreciate is that God has endowed him with unbelievable basketball talent, but he can’t do it all by himself. He will need to motivate his foot soldiers who are his teammates to die a little for themselves and him on the basketball court, if the city of Cleveland is to have a taste and feel of winning a championship in the King James era.