Monthly Archives: June 2012

Championships and The Spartan Spirit: Why America Will Never Love Lebron James

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Hand to hand combat is a thing of the past.  Wars today are fought with guns and remote control weapons. From a standpoint of creating minimal casualties this is a good thing.  Warriors use to feel a sense of honor in fighting hand to hand combat.  The best fighters were heroes. Soldiers today are heros as well but we don’t follow them in the way Genghis Kahn or Alexander The Great were followed, beloved and feared.

Unfortunately what we have now is sports. Our most beloved heroes put balls in hoops and score touchdowns. Sports is our new battle field. It’s where the great warriors of today prove who the greatest is. Kings had thrones to conquer. Now men have rings to win.

Now, the greatest warrior in basketball has conqured the battle field. He has now earned the title of King. That man is Lebron James. The city of Miami can sing their praises of him. His doubters will lower their heads in shame.  His jersey may even increase in sales. But he will still be the most hated man in basketball. But why?

To understand we need to go back in history. It’s 479 B.C. Sparta is under threat of being overrun by Persia.  I know you’ve seen “300” so I’m sure you understand the scenario. The Spartans had created a warrior culture. According to Steven Pressfield in his book “The Warrior Ethos” At the age of 7 years boys were taken from their mothers and taught to fight. From then on they were warriors. Anything less was unacceptable. Facing certain death the Spartan was not to run.

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In his book Pressfield tells a story of two brothers running from battle to save their lives. On the way to the city they see their mother who lifts her dress and asks if they are “running back from where they came.” In Spartan culture a warrior who runs from battle is publicly shamed as well as his family. He was no longer allowed to have children. They were expected to die for the sake of Sparta and all they held dear, it was privilege to do so.

Our culture today still to a degree idolizes this Spartan spirit. We don’t admire those who run from a fight. We don’t watch movies where a hero sells out his people for greener pastures. Imagine if William Wallace in “Braveheart” decided he wanted to be with a winner and joined the English. I don’t think the movie would have been the success it was. America wants to see the underdog who is fighting for his home or tribe or country victorious. It’s who we are as a country.

And that’s unfortunate for Lebron James. If at any point in Lebron James’s career you thought he was a terrible player, would never win a championship or was not worthy of the number one overall pick, you do not understand basketball. Lebron was going to win a ring sooner or later. He would silence doubters and accomplish the feat of being an NBA Champion. Then America would have been happy for James.  Lebron now has one championship, yet no one is happy for him. Why?

When Lebron’s city of Cleveland was under siege, much like Sparta in 479 B.C., he took an oath to defend it.   “I got a goal, and it’s a huge goal, and that’s to bring an NBA championship here to Cleveland,” said James. Yet when things got hard, his lowly championship deprived city needed him, he ran from battle to save himself. He wanted his ring. He wanted to be what they said he was “The Chosen One.”

But to our society he became what we hate. If Lebron had been playing for the Cleveland Cavilers in the 2012 NBA finals the whole country would have been behind him. Instead he got to enjoy his crowning moment with his Mom and himself. America will go on hating him. He may win another 8 titles, but they will all mean nothing.  Lebron needs to win one more title. That’s the only title that will ever define who he is and let him have a claim to be the greatest to ever play the game. Lebron must go back to Cleveland.

Whether or not Cleveland will take him back is the question. I would if I were them. But I am not an NBA GM. It’s James’s choice. He can have it easy or he can risk it all and gain back the underdog title. He needs to take his talents back to a place where hope is lost and championships are a myth and finish the magical story that he started.

People will continue to compare him to Michael Jordan. They will complain about his ring count, and how he sold out his home of Cleveland. But we can thank Lebron for one thing, teaching us that honor in fighting till the end is more important than being victorious.