LeBron James is probably not a popular name to be throwing around these parts in OKC, and for just reason. He finally reached his full potential in the NBA, but in the process sent Kevin, Russ and the gang back home as runners-up. Even so, it is still good and right to recognize his achievements, and this is what Sports Illustrated has done in a lengthy feature that is worth taking the time to read:
To be sure, the reaction for choosing James is going to be divided, just as many peoples' opinions of him are divided today. For me personally, I never disliked the guy but rather enjoyed rooting against him, the same way I enjoyed rooting against Magic Johnson or Hakeem Olajuwon. As a result I'm willing to give James the benefit of the doubt most of the time and continue to hope that he evolves as a human being.
One of the ways I know that he is, is that he still has fear in him. Not fear of failing to meet expectations anymore, but fear of somebody taking his throne. Buried within the story is this fine, fine quote that re-confirms my suspicion about the impact of those famous workouts two summers ago:
"I know there is someone, somewhere, trying to take my spot...And I know where he is too. He's in Oklahoma. He's my inspiration because I see the direction he's headed, and it's the same direction I'm headed. I know his mind-set, and he knows mine. It's a collision course. We're driving one another."
Those workouts did something significant. To both men. LeBron realized he needed to be more like Kevin, and Kevin realized he needed to be more like LeBron, and now they're both making it happen. Lucky for us, we all get to watch what happens next.