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LeBron is a sports icon

| Monday, September 17, 2018

LeBron James is the greatest face of a sport, ever. If I were to choose a sports idol to idealize, Lebron is everything I would want.

Now, I’m a Sacramento Kings fan, and I don’t really know what winning is like or what the playoffs even really look like anymore. Basketball games that have implications usually mean losing to get into the lottery (Marvin Bagley please don’t bust), if we even have our own pick. But watching LeBron James, from the age of 16, live up to and exceed every expectation to become one of best, if not the greatest, NBA players of all time, has been nothing short of unbelievable.

It’s not just on the court. LeBron’s average of about 27 points, seven rebounds and seven assists over his career is nothing to scoff at and neither is his three championships or his comeback in the 2016 NBA Finals over the 73-win Golden State Warriors. Neither is his knack for defense, for which he should have won defensive player of the year over Marc Gasol in 2012 Neither should his insane passing and vision or his athleticism be overlooked. He has proven critics wrong over his “clutchness” and, though his 3-5 record in finals isn’t great, his eight straight finals appearances in a row are insane. Most people don’t remember finals without LeBron in them. Despite Jordan’s 6-0 finals record, people forget his earlier years where he struggled without another star on the team. It’s better to lose in the finals than in the first round (which LeBron has never done).

What sets LeBron apart from former faces of the NBA, notably Kobe and Jordan, is his life off the court. LeBron married his high school sweetheart. He’s never had a scandal, except maybe the “taking my talents to South Beach” episode. Even the profits from that event went to charity. LeBron has, time and time again, shown himself to be a great father, compassionate on and off the court and a role model in terms of a leader on and off the court (maybe too much on the court, insert LeGM and LeCoach jokes go here). As an advocate for social issues and against President Trump, Lebron has never faltered. Compared to Kobe with sexual assault issues and Jordan with his gambling issues, LeBron is pristine. Kevin Durant, who most likely would be the next leader of the NBA, has had his off-court issues with social media.

As an NBA fan, I’m spoiled. For every Lebron, there is a Michael Beasley, a Michael Carter-Williams and an Anthony Bennett. There are far more busts than Hall of Fame players, obviously. But faces of the NBA, rarely have as a clean of a record as LeBron.

Lebron has been the villain and the hero. He has rarely played bad basketball and has made the NBA exciting. It’s sad that he’s a Laker now, but I’ll never stop rooting for LeBron.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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