MIAMI — In the wake of the recent upheavals in Egypt, the Food and Drug Administration has revised its food pyramid. What used to be good for you is now bad for you and vice versa. Thus spake the pyramid, the ultimate pointy-headed intellectual. This may be liberating news, if you found the old regime’s regimen too regimented. Once again, despite its own preference for herbage, the FDA is forced to ingurgitate its own verbiage. And everyone can agree it is no fun to eat your words.
One guy who is consuming a steady diet of adjectives — mostly of the pejorative variety — for breakfast, lunch and dinner is LeBron James. Yes, the same one who was said to be the Second Coming of Michael Jordan before getting his Second Comeuppance on Sunday night. He came to Miami before this season promising to deliver the championship of the National Basketball Association; he led the Heat to a 2-1 lead in the final round of the playoffs and then… disappeared.
In Game 4, with opposing star Dirk Nowitzki hampered by a severe cold, victory was in his grasp. LeBron produced a tepid eight points, none in the fourth quarter. He never recovered, playing poorly in the last two games as the season slipped away into the waiting hands of the Dallas Mavericks.
It was sad to watch him, a man of prodigious skill in his chosen sport, perhaps the best of his generation in ability. Yet he could not discover within himself the heart of a champion. He began muttering to himself like a homeless person. The look on his face was endearing, really, like a lost kid who was trying really hard to remember what he was supposed to bring home from the store.
Those who saw the great champions like Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan play had to bequeath them a new set of retrospective kudos. They had what it takes to win, over and over again, with the game on the line, the series on the line, the season on the line. If it took a shot, they had the right shot, and if it took a pass, they had the right pass. And here stands this young prodigy, year after year, with bafflement pasted across his features. What do they have, he wonders, that he is missing?
We share with him that quandary, to an extent, the mystery of the mastery, the trial of the triumph. What intangible aura lights the brow of the winner?
The owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers gets to lord it over LeBron this time around. He rashly promised his team’s enthusiasts that King James would reign no more nobly in the metropolis, in the mecca, than he did in the middling market of Cleveland. James implied that Cleveland was cramping his style and the big city would elicit the last measure of his greatness. Now he sulks while his former boss gloats.
There is a lesson in all this for you and me as we plod through the chore of routine, catching only a glimpse of the ethereal. We think often that the big moment of our dream is right around the corner, that only happenstance is thoughtlessly blockading the path. That may well be true, but when the call comes, will it find us suited for battle? Or will we be confronted by a shortfall of mettle, as the deficiencies in our spirits are put on display?
It’s just a game, they tell me, and I shouldn’t take it personally, they tell me, and there is always a next year, they tell me, and everyone deserves another chance, they tell me, and don’t take it to heart, they tell me. I suppose they must know what they are talking about, all those wise counselors, and yet I cannot help but wonder: if they dig deep into my soul, what will they find? Or better said, what have I stored there for them to find?
The Miami Heat was the better team. But being the better team is not enough. You still have to go out and win….
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