LeBron James decided to come back to Cleveland after winning two titles in Miami with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, but he is starting to come across as complacent. There are several reasons why this could be and some of them come across as selfish while others seem to be much deeper than that.
James and Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue talked last week and he also spoke with general manager David Griffin on what the team needs from LeBron and his “curious behavior.” This behavior includes going to Miami to workout with Wade instead of the Cavaliers, as well as hanging out at mid-court with Wade at halftime of the Cavaliers-Heat game that saw the Cavs down 21. The trio also discussed James’ leadership role on the team and the need for him to step up, and James knows what he needs to do to help the Cavaliers contend for a championship.
“Just getting more locked down toward the postseason, as I told you guys, I am zeroing in on what needs to be done,” James said. “Body feels great. I am just trying to put this team on my back and try to help us get to a point where we can just play at a high level. And they always take my lead and my energy, and hopefully they follow me.”
“I started my postseason mindset a little bit earlier this year, just understanding everything that we have been through this year both on and off the floor, and just want these guys to understand how important this moment is,” he said. “We have a great opportunity to do something special or at least compete for something special. I am fortunate that I am very healthy, as healthy as I have been in a long time, and I feel great and I am trying to do things to help us win,” via ESPN.
James has meant a lot to the city of Cleveland — he knows and the city knows it — but his behavior is coming across as a disinterest in winning a title in Cleveland and he almost appears to be going through the motions. He is still playing at a high level for the team, but there is a disconnect between him and his teammates on the court and in the locker room.
Another factor that stokes the flames of James’ haters is a story about him unfollowing the Cavaliers on Twitter, whether it has any bearing on his current situation or not. In this age of social media, every action by an athlete seems to resonate like aftershocks of a magnitude 7.1 earthquake, and their actions get blown out of proportion–sometimes unjustly. James claims it is him prepping for the postseason, but it is a curious move nonetheless.
As if that wasn’t enough to make James look complacent and disinterested, it has been reported by Bleacher Report that he would like to play with the likes of Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Wade before all of their careers are over. While the request or concept seems legit enough, it also resonates somewhat of a selfish tone by James. One can only imagine what has gone through the minds of his Cavaliers’ teammates after that story came out, but it can’t all be positive.
In James’ defense, his every move has been analyzed since he began his career in Cleveland, and things only got worse when “The Decision” took place on televisions around the world, with James announcing “I’m taking my talents to South Beach.” It wasn’t the best move in his career, but he is human and we all make mistakes throughout life.
What is wrong with LeBron at this point in his career?
It isn’t his killer instinct that so many questioned early on in his time with Cleveland, but perhaps it is his tenacity or desire to win so bad. One concept that tends to elude fans is the idea that James has carried around the burden of a city for far too long, whether justly or not, and that burden may finally have become too heavy for LeBron to carry by himself.
Cleveland fans burned every James jersey they could find when he left for Miami, but welcomed him back like a father does a prodigal son when he returned home. His second stint with the Cavaliers has had its share of exciting moments with the team making it to the NBA Finals in 2015, but a new star appears to have taken his spot as the king of the NBA and his name is Stephen Curry. LeBron haters were foaming at the mouth with rage and hatred after Cleveland was obliterated by Curry and the rest of the Golden State Warriors, but some people like to kick a man when he is down.
James is a leader and savior for Cleveland but the pressure finally appears to be getting to him as he continues to be ridiculed for every wrong move that he makes. He has titles to show from his time in Miami, but Cleveland wants their favorite king to bring them their long awaited treasure.
The burden of carrying the entire Cavaliers franchise on his back has finally started to break him mentally and physically, with complacency and a lack of tenacity starting to slightly shine through one of the best players in the NBA, and his haters are taking notice.
Cleveland wants a championship, LeBron wants to surround himself with his friends and his teammates need to help him carry the awful burden and pressure brought on him by an entire city. Otherwise, the king might find another castle surrounded by peasants that sing his praises rather than crucify him in the courtyard.