In 2002, Sporting News called him “…the nation’s most watched high school athlete ever.” Sports Illustrated dubbed him “The Chosen One”.
LeBron James’ relationship with the national media started early in life. He got his first taste of fame at the ripe age of 16, when he became the first high school athlete, to grace the cover of SLAM, Sports Illustrated, and ESPN. During his career at St. Vincent - St. Mary HS, ESPN 2 and regional pay-per-view outlets began airing some of his games. They gave him celebrity status before he was even eligible for NBA. It was a spotlight that would never fade. From his junior year on, every move he made was being watched, over-analyzed and over scrutinized. The media would make or break LeBron—the same peasants of the who put “The King” on that pedestal were lining up in droves to knock him off.
Growing up in Akron, OH, LeBron was labeled by fans and the media as a hometown hero. James finished his career at St. Vincent - St. Mary High School with 2,657 points, 892 rebounds and 523 assists, and was named Mr. Basketball of Ohio and All-USA First Team three consecutive years, the latter achievement was unprecedented.
The undoubted No. 1 pick of the 2003 NBA Draft, his journey as a Cleveland Cavalier began. He lived up to the hype in his first year in the NBA, as he became one of three players ever to average 20 points 5 assists and 5 rebounds in their rookie campaign, winning the Rookie of the Year honors. By year three, the Cavs were playoff bound, “King James” was a household name and his “witnesses” rose from the dungeons assured he would lead them to the “promise land”.
It came to fruition in his fourth season as he led the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals, where The King and his minions would eventually get swept under the rug by the San Antonio Spurs. In 2009 LeBron would once again lead the Cavs to the playoffs but they would make an early exit, falling in six games to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals. And after numerous failed attempts, as talented as he was, King James realized he couldn’t do it alone.
“[People] hate ballers these days, ain’t that like LeBron James, ain’t that just like D Wade.”~Kanye West - 'Gotta Have It'
In 2010 Cleveland’s golden child famously decided “take his talents to South Beach”. Seconds after his nationally televised announcement, coined “The Decision” by ESPN, James would be deemed the most reviled athlete across all sports by the media. Yet the same media that ridiculed him for being too conceited and over-hyped were the same ones created such a temperament. The pressure was on, as LeBron promised, “not one, not two, not three...” but more than seven championships with the Miami Heat, as he, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh celebrated their union in pep rally fashion at American Airlines Arena, in what seemed more like a concert than a commencement of Miami’s Big 3.
His unbelievable gifts as a basketball player resulted in three MVP awards, yet James struggled to fulfill his championship promise. A promise the media would not let him forget. They say, “The only person you can change is yourself”, and there is no doubt the world saw a different LeBron James in 2012. He was able to redefine himself, on his terms, and ignore all the negative murmurs from the media. in his eyes after trailing the Indiana Pacers 2-1, he was more focused and more centered — on becoming a champion.
He has always been incredibly talented, but the media hype got under his skin last season. In Cleveland he lacked a supporting cast capable enough to assist their Sire in his time of need. The wrath spewed upon him in his first season in South Beach relegated him from hero to villain, a role he was both uncomfortable and unqualified to play.
“I was playing to prove people wrong last year, and people would say I was selfish, and that got to me,” said James. “All last year I tried to prove people wrong, prove you guys wrong, and it wasn't me. At the end of the day, I was basically fighting against myself.”
This win is more satisfying because he has been knock down. Instead of letting the hate motivate him, he relied on his determination and love for the game to respond to the haters.
"The best thing that happened to me last year was us losing the Finals, and me playing the way I played -- it was the best thing to ever happen in my career because I got back to the basics. It humbled me. I knew what it was going to have to take, and I was going to have to change as a basketball player, and I was going to have to change as a person to get what I wanted.''
“They build you up, break you down, and build you up again”~Jay-Z
The morning after the win, the media had nothing but good things to say about LeBron James. Even with his first championship, will all be forgiven? Will the media and the public once again embrace King James? Or will the love turn to hate once again? Only time will tell, but for the time being, Watch The Throne!