The man who became King: LeBron James
One of the more interesting aspects for American athletes today is their popularity in countries like the UK where sports like American Football and Basketball are just not that popular. Although the fans will turn up in brief periods for the one off game at Wembley or the Olympics the average sports fan wouldn’t be able to recognise Aaron Rodgers or Derrick Rose on the streets of London. LeBron James is a different story.
‘King James’ is a rare breed of American sportsmen who has transferred his popularity across the Atlantic to some degree. Even a casual sports fan at least knows the name of LeBron James. Part of that has come from his personality and celebrity lifestyle but the majority of his notoriety comes from the fact that he is a fantastic basketball player, one of the greatest of all time and surely the best since Michael Jordan.
Playing in the forward role, James has won the NBA’s most valuable player of the year award four times since the 2008-09 season. He is certainly the best all round ball player in the game right now able to attack and defend equally as well. Only Rose has managed to win the award since James’ rise to prominence with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Ironically, James latest award makes him fourth on the all time list for MVP wins behind Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabber and Bill Russell. What is arguably more impressive is that James has ruled over NBA for almost five years holding off men like Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan.
In this years’ NBA finals, James’ Miami Heat faced off against the San Antonio Spurs and here James proved why he is the best player on Earth currently playing. With the series tied at 3-3 going into the final game, James was brilliant for Miami, asserting his will throughout the contest to turn in a dominant performance. He finished with 37 points and 12 rebounds. His five three-pointers were key against a side that dared him to put in a display worthy of a MVP in the biggest game of his career. He delivered in style. It meant James had won his second straight title with the Heat and a second straight ‘Man of the Series’ award.
Because of his performances on the court, James has become the most analysed sportsman in America for the past two years. Whereas Usain Bolt’s ego lands him nothing but praise from fans and journalists alike, James’ similar attitude draws a lot of unwanted attention from not just sports journalists but showbiz and news journalists alike. After all, an appearance hosting Saturday Night Live will draw a crowd.
Like David Beckham in the football world, James’ every move both on and off the court has become vital news for American networks and papers but unlike Beckham there isn’t universal love for James. So it remains to be seen whether James’ legacy will ultimately fall short of someone like Jordan. But for the time being, ‘King James’ is in no danger to being usurped from his throne.