LeBron James is having a wonderful summer. Since getting swept by the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, LeBron has gone cliff diving, joined the Lakers, opened a public school for at-risk kids in Akron, Ohio, that looks to be a model philanthropical project, and watched his 13-year-old son, LeBron James Jr., dunk.
We can now add one more item to LeBron’s list of summer accomplishments: this fantastic pep talk that he gave to a youth basketball team, presumably LeBron Jr.’s USBA national championship–winning North Coast Blue Chips.
WARNING: Contains strong language about tennis and golf.
All of that may sound good coming from one of the best basketball players of all time, but does LeBron’s pep talk hold water, truthwise?
“We got Hall of Famers and some of the best players ever who came off the bench … ”
Verdict: True. Boston Celtics Hall of Famer John Havlicek spent the majority of his career as a sixth man, while Kevin McHale, another Boston legend and Hall of Famer, spent roughly half his playing time coming off the bench.
“ … or didn’t play.”
Verdict: False. To make the Basketball Hall of Fame, you need to play basketball.
“That doesn’t mean you’re not good.”
Verdict: True. As someone who was both a benchwarmer and delusional in high school, I believe this with all my gullible little heart.
“There are guys in the NBA who don’t play. Does that mean they’re not good? They got to the NBA because they’re sorry?”
Verdict: False. While anyone in the NBA could destroy the best player you played with in high school, we as fans still reserve the right to laugh at sorry scrubs because we have nothing else going for us.
“They’re just playing a role. If you don’t want a role, play tennis or play golf, then you can do whatever the fuck you wanna do … ”
Verdict: True. Enthusiasts of doubles tennis will take issue with this, but they’re not a particularly powerful constituency. In reality, this is the best marketing pitch I’ve ever heard for tennis and golf. They are the sports for rogue individualists, men and women unconstrained by rules or the law!
“ … and then you got nobody else to blame because that’s an individual sport. If that’s what you want to do, play tennis or play golf.”
Verdict: False. Blaming other people is the most fun thing about golf. You can blame your caddie, your swing coach, or any spectator who raises his or her voice above a whisper. It’s a blast.
“But if you want to play a team sport then there are going to be things that you gotta give up to get what you want.”
Verdict: True. This is coming from a man who is living his dream of playing in Los Angeles but will also have to play with Michael Beasley and Lance Stephenson next season.
I’m sure some cranky weenies out there will be upset by LeBron’s use of a swear word, but nothing grabs the attention of 13-year-old boys like some salty verbiage. To wit: Ozzie Guillén became my favorite baseball player as a kid because I overheard him drop a breathtaking number of swears at a White Sox game. It remains one of my most cherished memories, and I can only imagine how meaningful it would have been to hear Ozzie unload those F-bombs to my face in the middle of an uplifting speech about the merits of teamwork.
Long may LeBron James’ summer of giving continue.