In watching the post-NBA Finals landscape, the big topic isn’t necessarily the impending lockout or even the greatness of Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavs. The discussion is instead dominated by LeBron James.
For many sports fans, mocking LeBron’s lack of a championship is cathartic. It’s payback for the never-ending free agency speculation, the Decision primetime special, the un-likability of the current Miami Heat roster, and even the seemingly overexposed media presence he’s had over the last decade.
Not to mention, he hasn’t seemed to gracious in defeat.
More than anything, at this point LeBron in his career, he parallels a super hero. LeBron is Thor.
These two larger-then-life figures have more in common than you would think.
Look at their lives. They have both always been viewed as the heir apparent, whether it is to become the face of basketball or the king of Asgard. They’re both unbelievably good at what they do, and because of that, they have the ego to match.
When the Heat’s big three joined forces, it was clear that LeBron would be the most scrutinized—and had the most to lose if they did not win a championship. Dwayne Wade already had one from 2006, establishing his legacy and claim of greatness. Chris Bosh was just lucky to be in the situation.
If you continue this Avengers metaphor, Bosh is totally the Ant Man of the Heat. He’s just there. He helps out when called upon, but doesn’t dominate the team. Occasionally, he has his big moment, but he’s just a supporting character.
As LeBron’s legend grew, he had his victories and his defeats. He—deservedly—is a two time MVP. In 2007, he led a Cavaliers team to the Finals due to his sheer will. Ultimately, that team, like the Heat lost. Unlike Thor, LeBron James is human. There is only so much he can do.
Clearly, LeBron takes this all too seriously. His frustration is evident. He wants to win so bad he was willing to leave his home, where he was viewed like a god.
His competitiveness has made his somewhat bitter, as he’s lashed out in the media with certain foolishness.
Remember this quote from when the Cavaliers were eliminated in the 2009 Eastern Conference finals?
“It’s hard for me to congratulate somebody after you just lose to them, I’m a winner. It’s not being a poor sport or anything like that. If somebody beats you up, you’re not going to congratulate them. … I’m a competitor. That’s what I do. It doesn’t make sense for me to go over and shake somebody’s hand.”
It takes a real man—a real leader—to know that accepting your defeat is not a sign of weakness.
This next bit of arrogance came out again just a few days ago.
“All the people that were rooting on me to fail, at the end of the day, they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today. They have the same personal problems they had today. I’m going to continue to live the way I want to live and continue to do the things that I want to do with me and my family and be happy with that. They can get a few days or a few months or whatever the case may be on being happy about not only myself, but the Miami Heat not accomplishing their goal. But they have to get back to the real world at some point.”
Again, he doesn’t show strong character in defeat. He still hasn’t learned.
LeBron is at a crossroads, just like Thor.
For brevity’s sake, we’ll simplify his story as it was shown in the movie this summer. Thor is brash and cocky. To teach him the lessons of humility, Odin strips his son of his powers and banishes him to earth. Thor can only reclaim his position of celestial nobility once he was able to overcome his hubris.
Losing the NBA Finals and his subsequent reaction has put LeBron in this situation. He’s been vilified and his integrity has been doubted. If he wants to return to being viewed as the beloved superstar he was just a little over a year ago, he has to swallow his pride and show that he can take his criticism in stride.
Like Thor, LeBron has to admit his shortcomings. He has to acknowledge that if his team can’t do it, that he has to figuratively—and literally—carry them. He has to step up and become a leader, one that inspires and have a strong sense of nobility. Be more Steve Nash then Stephon Marbury. Be more Thor then Loki
When he regains his humility, only then will LeBron be able to wield Mjolnir. Or in his case, become a deserving NBA champion.