Tales From the Hilltop
An intelligent, yet Devil's Advocate view of the world

Episode Twenty-Four: He Got Game….Version 2.0

Boy, when coincidences happen, they happen very strangely.

For all my sports fans out there, you without a doubt notice that the biggest sports story in the world right now is about a certain NBA athlete, one LeBron James. Well, the story is simply this: after yet again he failed to lead his team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, to an NBA title. Now, in the coming summer, he will become a free agent, and have the ability to play on any team he wants…or that can pay him what he asks. Of course, there’s a twist to him coming out. LeBron is highly regarded as the best player in the NBA for the last two years, having won back-to-back MVP awards (albeit, no NBA titles to go with it) and has become the NBA’s ‘face’ of the league. The hot commodity. The most coveted athlete in all of sports this side of Michael Jordan. The King. (Ring or no, for now). Every team (yes, YOUR team too) wants him to sign with them. And why not? He’s a once-in-a-generation type player on the court, a crowd favorite wherever he goes, and commands that A-list attention without asking for a thing.

This plotline seems very familiar.

Back in 1998, filmmaker Spike Lee directed a film called “He Got Game”, starring Hollywood superstar Denzel Washington, and then Milwaukee Bucks All-Star, Ray Allen. The story centers around Allen, named Jesus Shuttlesworth in the movie, as the country’s top basketball player from Coney Island, New York. During the movie, we learn that his senior season is pretty about who he was going to play with after high school. Every college wanted him, even most NBA teams sent agents to try to entice him to skip school and go pro. The hype machine on him was at full blast throughout the movie, and why not? He – like LeBron does now – simply put, owned the basketball court and everyone on it. Teammates loved him, chicks wanted to marry him (or at the very least, wanted to have his kids), and coaches wanted to pamper him and help make their teams great.

Now, I realize the first obvious differences between the movie and LeBron’s crazy media-clogged life: The major one being LeBron’s already in the league, and Jesus was merely thinking of maybe going there. However, think on it: LeBron pretty much is Jesus Shuttlesworth, 2.0. He has been for the last seven years. Ever since his high school days, most of his junior and senior year games at St. Vincent–St. Mary High School have been put on national TV (ESPN, exclusively), just to see him play. In some cases, they were actually on Pay-Per-View. Seriously. However, the magnitude of the choice is still as major in that movie was portrayed to be just as huge as what LeBron will ultimately decide, as it’s been pretty much decreed that he decision will shift the balance of power of the league.

Just for fun, I did notice some creepy things that link both the movie and this real-life tale:

  • As I mentioned previously, the character of Jesus Shuttlesworth was played by Ray Allen, who was then on the Milwaukee Bucks. Now, he’s on the Boston Celtics, the team that just knocked the Cavs out of the 2010 playoffs, which kicked this media firestorm into hyper drive.
  • They never said what position he officially played on the floor, but you can bet Jesus played the 3-spot, or small forward, having the ability to do everything: run the offense like a point guard, shoot like a 2-guard, and rebound like a power forward/center. LeBron also plays this position as his primary spot in the line-up (while Ray Allen actually has been a shooting guard his whole career).
  • He Got Game’s director, Spike Lee has openly said even he was rooting for a team he  hates – the Boston Celtics – to beat the Cavs to get LeBron to come to his hometown New York Knicks.
  • One of Jesus’s ‘nicknames’ that he was referred to by ESPN during the sports casting of the movie included: “The Chosen One”….yeah. EERIE.

One thing is for sure, two things for certain: like Jesus Shuttlesworth, the world is waiting with baited breath for the King to choose his whether he will move to a potentially new kingdom, or remain at his hometown one and try to finish what he started and finally win the city of Cleveland an NBA championship. So, who will he choose…no one will know until July. But this is a pretty interesting real-life movie, you gotta admit.

There’s a part in the movie where the camera has us look into the eyes of each coach telling him to go to their school, and they us in a montage of coaches saying, “This will be the important decision in your life.” Well, apparently, this has become so bloated and blown up, that not only will LeBron’s decision be the most important in his life, but – as it turns out – will be the most important decision in the future of the NBA (for the next 10-25 years, anyway).

Seriously. Couldn’t make this stuff up. Like I said before….EERIE.

5/14/10

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