In The Presence of Greatness

(I’m writing something every day for #100days. This is post 22/100.)

I got to see one of my heroes in real life last night.

Someone at the peak of their powers.

LeBron James is one of the greatest basketball players of all time.

It’s Michael first, and then some ordering of Wilt, Bill Russell, Kareem, Magic, Larry, Timmy D and, of course, LeBron.

LeBron is my generation’s all-time great.

And I got to see him score 44 points, in Game 1 of the NBA Finals against an historically good Warriors team.

There are a suite of contentious-in-retrospect MVP selections. Malone and Barkley in the Jordan era. Steve Nash during Kobe’s reign.

Watching last night, even in a losing game, it was abundantly clear that the best player on the floor, by a wide margin, was LeBron James.

Steph Curry was the best player on the best team this year. But LeBron is, was and will continue to be the world’s best player.

I hadn’t fully understood his dominance until I saw it live. Saw him pulverising the world’s best defenders and athletes — Iguodala, Green, Barnes — in the post last night.

He was so measured. I looked up at the scoreboard and he had 17 points already. Waiting for his moment in every set. Delivering.

He is too big. Too fast. Too strong.

He lost. The Cavaliers lost. He missed the game-winning shot.

He started missing with 2 minutes to go and didn’t stop until it was too late.

I get all of that.

Basketball is a team game and the better team won.

Steph was masterful. That Warriors crowd surpassed even my wildest expectations for what three hours of sustained passion and energy could feel like.

But 30 years from now, I’ll remember the awe I felt watching LeBron James play basketball.

As big and strong as Karl Malone. As quick as Kobe. As court-visionary as Magic.

Backing people down. Waiting. Pushing, pulsing. Rising up to score. Again and again.

Failing ultimately.

But transcendently great. Closer to perfection in a single human endeavour than just about anyone has ever been.

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