So LeBron James cramped up last night, and suddenly his performance is being equated to Michael Jordan's Flu Game in the '97 NBA Finals.
LeBron was carried off the court as if he'd been shot. Because he had a left thigh cramp. And so started the Hero Narrative. This was how Adrian Wojnarowski started his piece about LeBron hitting an actual shot despite his debilitating injury:
"LeBron James told himself: Get up and walk to the sideline. All around him, there were trainers and teammates to lift him up, but his muscles burned, his legs locked and his desperation to defy the pain was met with the body's resistance. He had been standing on his own in the biggest moments of these NBA Finals, rising above everyone else, and his inclination was natural in the closing minutes of Game 4: All these times he had gone down, all this pain and angst and LeBron James had wanted to get back to his feet and keep hurtling toward his championship destiny."
Wow. Do you have goosebumps? Because I do.
There was a great story this morning about hockey players mocking LeBron James on Twitter. My favorite were a pair of tweets by AHLer Scott Valentine:
"Oh my god guys, Lebron has a cramp, everyone get on their feet, standing O for somehow staying in the game."
"If Lebron somehow manages to pull off winning a ring after fighting through a thigh cramp.. it will be a story I tell my children’s children."
In all seriousness, cramps hurt, and LeBron is doing well in the Finals. But some people, like the above quoted Wojnarowski and the folks at ESPN are turning LeBron into something more heroic than he is.
It's just another Narrative of Hype from ESPN. ESPN no longer reports sports news, it exaggerates it.
To me, the story of the 2012 NBA Finals is that someone with talent is finally playing up to their potential. There's nothing gutsy or heroic or special or tough about LeBron's performance last night. He was in pain, but not nearly as much as he was showing. He was playing into it, wincing for the cameras. All basketball players do that. They're just below soccer players when it comes to embellishing pain.
LeBron James is one of the best basketball players in the world. Part of playing basketball is exaggerating pain. So it makes sense that LeBron is also one of the best at exaggerating.