I like games, don’t you? It’s fun to set the world aside and focus on a set of definitive rights and wrongs for a short time.
I can’t imagine being defined by a game though. What sort of personalized Hell must that be? What’s it like to be little more than a child and you show such skill at a game that everyone around you used that game to define you before you had the wherewithal to define yourself? The game is your identity, with its solid rights and wrongs that the world outside of games doesn’t often adhere to. What must it be like for the man that now stands in the same place that that boy once did? Basketball. A game. A fun game by all accounts. But, synonymous with an identity? Is that a legacy, or is it a mythology?
It has taken me years to like LeBron James. I don’t know him personally and that was a big part of it, of course. We may both be from the greater Cleveland area, but our social circles are quite different. My earlier distaste for him was as a celebrity, as a media icon. All that is my fault because I never looked at it from the hellish brutality his psyche has been subject to. I doubt he realizes it. How could he? He was shaped by a culture into a statue, a hero, a Hercules of a game before he knew what was happening to him… but lately I’ve seen it in interviews – that childlike fear and innocence that you do not see in people with solid identities. People who know their value is in more than a game.
That same Peter Pan innocence of self has actually converted me to a LeBron James fan. The Cavaliers had a wonderful season in ’15, and I’m interested to see what happens next year. But if some of you out there do travel in the same circles as LeBron? Help him find out that he is more than basketball, more than a game, a symbol and statue. Every person deserves a chance to find out who they are on their own without other people telling them.
~Nick Shamhart 6/17/15