The standard knock against Superman is that it’s too hard to tell good stories about a man that good and powerful. That is true, to an extent. Superman doesn’t readily fit into our favorite story, the hero’s journey. He’s too good of a person to ever refuse the call to action. And he’s too powerful that all obstacles in his way are seen as arbitrary. The potential in his stories aren’t as readily apparent as characters like Batman, Spider-Man or Luke Skywalker. These characters either refuse the call to action at first or get in their own way of acting immediately. They also are just weak enough that some obstacles can at least seem difficult.
The comic above has a point, but misses a larger point as well. I appreciate the beauty of basketball, but I wouldn’t be attracted to it as much if it weren’t for the stories. This year’s Grizzlies were a fun team to watch, but they were an interesting team because of their story. I didn’t smile after Dirk won the title just because he won I smiled because I knew everything that came before it. But these stories fall into the hero myth that we are all familiar with.
LeBron James is different. On the court he is all-powerful. He is much faster and stronger than everyone. He has super court vision. His athleticism is subject to hyperbole. He accepts the challenge thrust upon him. He wants to win the title. He doesn’t play a brand of ball that is considered detrimental to that goal. James has made decisions that are in fact very conducive to winning a title. There are still obstacles that prevent him from winning a championship, but I, at least, have an intense feeling that it is an inevitability for LeBron.
There are dozens of reasons people will cite as to why they don’t like LeBron. Very rarely do any of these reasons coincide with his play on the court. I believe all the reasons people normally use all can be traced to LeBron not fitting the world’s most popular narrative. His play on the court, as well as the story of his career defies conventions. That doesn’t stop anyone from trying to standardize him. How do you fit a square peg into a round hole? You shave off its corners. He disappears in the fourth quarter. He joined Wade and Bosh because he knew he wasn’t good enough. He could never be Jordan.
Superman and LeBron offer the opportunity to tell a different kind of story. In All-Star Superman, within the first few pages, events conspire to make Superman more powerful than ever before. Then a time traveler appears to say that Superman will accomplish 12 legendary feats. Suspense is removed immediately which suggests a dull story, but what commences over 12 issues is one of the best, most character-driven comic books I have ever read.
Right now, even after his Finals defeat, James is at his most powerful. This is generally accepted. What isn’t generally accepted is my assumption that LeBron will definitely win multiple titles. If you won’t accept that, then at least be willing to remove the talk of championships from his story. I don’t believe championships are the ultimate achievement for LeBron. The way he plays or in another sense, his character is driving his story in a different direction: he’s a human, as emotionally fragile as all of us who was put into the body of a god meant to make us all understand why basketball is worth loving.
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