Watching Lebron James Live
Today I am starting a new weekly feature, inspired by the Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast. It’s called “What’s Making Me Happy This Week.”
What’s Making Me Happy This Week is my first time watching Lebron James play live. On Wednesday night I attended the Heat-Nets game at the new Barclays Center, a game that was competitive through the first half, tied at halftime 49-49. The Nets even had a 55-53 lead a few minutes into the 3rd quarter. From that point until the end of the quarter though, the Heat turned up their intensity level and the Nets were finished. Lebron and his teammates suffocated the Nets on defense, which translated into an overwhelming offensive display, sparked by a lob pass and dunk from Dwayne Wade to Lebron and followed immediately by a fast-break 3-pointer also from Lebron. From the point of the Nets brief lead until the end of the quarter, the Heat outscored the Nets 32-10, during which time Lebron was a sight to behold, nailing difficult 3-pointers, making brilliant passes, and transitioning his team from defense to offense faster than any player I’ve ever seen.
The best part may have actually come in the 4th quarter though, when the game was already out of hand. The Heat’s “Big 3” of Lebron, Wade and Chris Both were all still in the game even though all of Brooklyn’s starters (other than Joe Johnson) had been removed. At one point a call went against the Heat and Lebron visibly – but without showing up the Nets or the officials – showed his frustration with the call. His intensity had not gone down a single notch, despite the fact that the game was well in hand. At that moment my friend turned to me and said “wow, he’s a really likeable player.” I was thinking the exact same thing at that moment. Lebron’s annoyance with the blown call was very subtle, yet just powerful enough to indicate to the entire arena that he was still playing at 100% effort. There are very few athletes who play that hard night in and night out, let alone in the waning minutes of a blowout. It is amazing that Lebron plays that hard when he’s already clearly the best player in the game – if anyone could afford to coast a little, it’s him.
I don’t remember the last time I went to watch one of my teams play (I have always been a Nets fan, even before they moved to Brooklyn) and openly cheered for an opponent. While I don’t hate Lebron I have never particularly been a fan of his, especially following “The Decision.” However, last night, between his extraordinary talent and his winning personality, I (and many Nets fans in the Barclays Center) openly cheered for him, completely guilt-free. I got to see the absolute pinnacle of what sports should be. And that’s What’s Making Me Happy This Week.