While the Dallas Mavericks and Boston Bruins spend this weekend savoring the successful conclusions to their respective championship seasons, the rest of us will anticipate the arrival of summer while “[getting] back to the real world at some point” during the Monday morning start of our work week.
Though I am by no means a biblical scholar, the teachings of Proverbs 16:18 have reverberated through my mind ever since LeBron’s hour long TV special broadcast announcement of his latest career upgrade. Then came the brash, bombastic predictions of multiple championships followed by growing animosity from viewers, the ticket buying public and even some national media toward LeBron and his new team. As LeBron and Co. assumed, perhaps unwittingly, the role of flamboyant antagonists, we sports fans were treated to an NBA season that eventually developed into great theatre.
I once saw Los Angeles Laker superstar Magic Johnson explain during a game telecast that for a team to be completely successful they have to adopt a mindset that includes harboring a strong dislike or even hatred of the opposing team they’re trying to defeat. Such a mindset among fans and competitive participants alike fuels the energy that allows high-end sports competition to oft-times promote itself as grand theatre. But when the prerequisite enobling elements of camaraderie, team, spirit and cooperation, and discipline and superior focus are lacking; indeed, when haughtiness of spirit and pride precede a fall, then we are sometimes treated to bitter press conference admonishments of how we need to “get a life.” At the absolute utmost extreme, we gaze in horror at boorish behaviors exemplified by riots and car burnings like those in Vancouver after the Canucks Stanley Cup Final Game 7 defeat.
Obviously, LeBron James didn’t expect to lose a championship that his team was heavily favored to win. I don’t think he anticipated the degree of animosity generated by his leaving Cleveland for Miami, either. In almost Zen-like fashion his season ending commentary actually imparts a kind of wisdom that he himself seems unaware of. You see, it really is only a game. That’s how we should look at it. Colorful, often awe-inspiring, electro-kinetic theatre that it is maybe, but still only a game nonetheless. Our haughtiness of spirit should not distract us from the simple joy of what it really is: putting a ball in a hole.
And guess what? Though Lebron continues to earn a lucrative career of playing a ball and net game, I think it constructive for him to likewise regard it as such, albeit in perhaps a therapeutic sense. He’s only twenty-six years old and performing what could be considered the Act III of his athletic career. The sublimely, deceptively simple task of putting a round ball in a hole can serve as his brush and blank canvas for creating a masterwork to inspire an Act IV and final denouement that will wow future audiences and instill a collective sense of awe, wonderment and, yes, pride in contemplating the endless possibilities of human achievement.