By: Joe Cardoso
Throughout my life, I have seen a ton of prodigies come down the sports pipeline. I remember virtually every “next big thing” in sports. Todd Marinovich. Freddy Adu. Jennifer Capriati. All of these ‘can’t miss’ athletes, whether through injury, pressure, or bad life choices, didn’t live up to the hype.
I can only speak for myself, but at age 16, I wasn’t the smartest guy in the world. However, I had little to no pressure to be the “next big” anything other than a good human being. I didn’t have my every move I made scrutinized and discussed.
Since his freshmen year at St. Vincent-St. Mary’s high school, LeBron James has.
Many hoops junkies such as myself recall the SLAM magazine covers and pay-per-view games during high school. Yep, once upon a time, people actually paid to watch high school hoops.
Not so shockingly, LeBron made some dumb mistakes, that, I would dare say, many people would have made at that age. The Hummer controversy and the throwback jerseys quickly come to mind. What is crazy is, unless someone has a huge smoking gun waiting in the wings, that’s it. No weed smoking pics, no multiple baby mamas – that we know of.
I cannot, and will not bypass “The Decision.” In my opinion, that was a horrible manner in which to leave a team and a city that loved you and treated you like… well, a king.
That said; how many people knew that the program helped raise over 6 million dollars for charities? I’m just saying…
With all the haters being so relentless on James, I’d like to propose this question:
Has any star athlete ever been criticized the way LeBron James has for his entire career?
In fairness, I will say that there have been several times when shots have been fired that LeBron has been what I would call sensitive to the comments, but he never directly answers his critics. Cramps in the biggest game of the year, going MIA in four straight NBA Finals games against Dallas, in what I would call questionable deference to teammates at crunch time instead of taking over. I can’t recall a Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan ever doing anything like that.
Love him or hate him, his resume is solid, and it’s still growing. I won’t go through all his accomplishments, but the highlights include 3-time NBA champion, 4-time NBA MVP, and 13 -time NBA All Star.
Now after, um… 15 plus years of getting blasted by talking heads, it seems the King has finally had enough and clapped back on Charles Barkley.
“I’m not going to let him disrespect my legacy like that,” James said of Barkley. “I’m not the one who threw somebody through a window. I never spit on a kid. I never had unpaid debt in Las Vegas. I never said, ‘I’m not a role model.’ I never showed up to All-Star Weekend on Sunday because I was in Vegas all weekend partying.
“All I’ve done for my entire career is represent the NBA the right way. Fourteen years, never got in trouble. Respected the game. Print that.”
NOW people are shocked?
After all those times that you, me, Sir Charles, Skip Bayless, other old school players and barbershops around the world have all talked about LeBron, this was long overdue.
Charles Barkley should be the last person throwing stones at anyone. All Lebron did was counter with facts. For people who say he went too far, I say this: no way. He should have gone further with his comments.
If Barkley has so much to say, then meet him face to face and say what’s on your chest, Chuck. You can only punch a person so many times before they fight back.
With an empire and brand to protect, it makes sense why King James held his tongue for so long. Who has handled fame better? Who has done so much for the youth of America in terms of being a role model? Charles Barkley just happened to be the kindle that sparked the fire.
James stated that, “There’s a new sheriff in town.” Well, people better make sure they buckle up for this one. I can’t wait to see what’s next.
Get your popcorn ready. It’s going to be one heck of a month for basketball come June!
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