val·i·date (vl-dt) vali·dation n.
tr.v. val·i·dat·ed, val·i·dat·ing, val·i·dates
1. To declare or make legally valid. 2. To mark with an indication of official sanction.3. To establish the soundness of; corroborate.
Yep, I’m starting this off with a definition from the online Free Dictionary. Stick with me, this is not an English class assignment or the start of a far too easy spelling bee. Nope, just my take on perception and reality with a hardwood backdrop.
Last week, LeBron James won the 2013 NBA Champonship. Oh sure the Miami Heat actually won the title by beating the Spurs, but you wouldn’t know that by the reaction throughout the media and Twitter universe. The talking heads and tweeps would have you believe LeBron did it all himself.
This 2nd ring for LeBron apparently was so impressive many would have you believe the self proclaimed King James has now secured a spot next to Michael Jordan on basketball’s Mt.Olympus. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Before the haters starting texting me, let me say…LeBron James is amazing! He is the best player in the NBA today. He very well could join MJ at the basketball summit one day. Given his youth, he may, dare I say it, surpass Michael. Let’s be clear though, we sure aren’t there yet and there are miles to go.
Here come the numbers and accolades. Michael Jordan’s career NBA marks below are unbelievable. This isn’t all of them, just a top-10 list. let’s not forget the NCAA title, Naismith and Wooden awards and those 4 gold medals and perfect record in international play. Who didn’t want to “be like Mike”?
- 6× NBA champion (1991–1993, 1996–1998)
- 6× NBA Finals MVP (1991–1993, 1996–1998)
- 5× NBA Most Valuable Player (1988, 1991–1992,1996, 1998)
- 14× NBA All-Star (1985–1993, 1996–1998,2002–2003)
- 3× NBA All-Star Game MVP (1988, 1996, 1998)
- NBA Defensive Player of the Year (1988)
- NBA Rookie of the Year (1985)
- 10× NBA scoring champion (1987–1993, 1996–1998
- 10× All-NBA First Team (1987–1993, 1996–1998)
- 9× NBA All-Defensive First Team (1988–1993,1996–1998)
The one number not listed for Michael is 0. It should be, twice. For the number of NBA Championship series he lost and the number of titles he counted before actually winning any.
Coronation: LeBron James was crowned a champion by fans and we in the media before he fought the fight. He furthered the coronation with the shameless count off of titles the Big-3 were bringing to South Beach before logging even one practice. The man/child who would be king seemed to have forgotten a few steps before slipping on his crown
Validation: This second title for LBJ and the role he played in wining it legitimizes his bid to make a run at “His Airness”. There are lots of guys with one ring, but a second opens the MJ conversation. I repeat…opens the conversation.
LeBron was fantastic. he learned from his NBA finals failure vs. San Antonio in 2007. He worked on his mid range and 3-point shot after falling to Dallas in 2011. It all paid off. He was simply the best and got deserved validation from current and past NBA stars who now dared to mention his name along with Michael’s. The keyword is mention!
The validation is legit, the coronation is not. Don’t fret Bron-Bron…it’s not all your fault. We have ourselves to blame.
The old saying is “(insert name here) is great, just ask him”. Yet if you constantly tell me how great you are (especially before there is tangible evidence) I stop caring about finding out. But in today’s Twitter feed, Facebook, American Idol, read my blog (I do see the irony in this) world everyone is a star before they do anything. Too busy waiting to be famous.
Hard work has been replaced with much loftier pursuits, like giving yourself narcissistic nicknames like “Peoples Champ” or any name followed by the words “Playa” “Wow” or “Killa”. And don’t forget the requisite voyeuristic hashtags like #Baller or #ThatsHowWeRoll on Twitter or Instagram. Usually these gems are coming from the person sitting at home in their underwear watching the tube wondering why they don’t have their own reality show. Really? Do ya not know?
So here’s where perception isn’t reality. You can believe your dog is a bird all day long, but until he grows wings, leaves some droppings on your shirt and flies away, he aint. LeBron James isn’t Michael Jordan, but unlike the aforementioned and labored dog-bird analogy, he could be. Maybe more. He’s now legit, in the club, a made man. The second championship got him access to the secret handshake. That only comes with validation before coronation and that only comes courtesy of hard work. Isn’t that really what we all want and should expect in our endeavors?
Even though I was rooting for the Spurs, I’m happy for Lebron. He truly seems to have learned from his impetuous past. He has become a symbol of what hard work, desire and commitment can bring. It’s nice to have an example to live up to…no matter how hard it is chasing after Air.