LeBron James has played a privileged, honored, and storied career. He has also carried mounting pressure on his enormous shoulders after being tabbed King before ever winning a ring.
In Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 2, Act 3, Scene 1 those words, “uneasy lies the head that wears the crown,” were uttered. Ironically, now that King has his ring, his mind can be put at ease.
LeBron James was the King without a kingdom. A King without a crown. Hype without substance. He drew comparisons he didn’t ask for. He failed in the face of adversity. He reacted poorly to failure. Perhaps no player has been praised as much as criticized since Wilt Chamberlain.
And he deserved it all. On some level.
He wanted to be called King. He looked like he should be King. We wanted him to be King. The longer he went without fulfilling his preordained destiny, the more impatient and angry we became. And the more uneasy he became.
It was uncomfortable. The surprising eliminations as championship favorites in Cleveland. The decision. The disappointing 2011 NBA Finals. The 2012 All-Star Game. All the shots he passed up. We began to wonder if he was crumbling underneath the crown he was fitted for so long ago.
Did he not want the responsibility that comes with acknowledgement of greatness?
He earned another MVP this season. The third for his career. It really didn’t matter. Only XVI mattered. 16, as in wins necessary in the NBA playoffs to capture an elusive title.
Finally, he showed us more. He understood. LeBron James was confronted with moments of doubt this postseason, and dismissed that doubt like a champion would. He overcame. He excelled. It was almost like watching Neo in the “Matrix” when he finally figured out his powers and how to maximize them.
And you know what’s crazy? He isn’t done. He can still get better. He may never be a great outside shooter, but he can get better. And if he does, then the King is likely to continue to add rings to his fingers.
Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown. LeBron James knew that all to well. Now that he has earned his crown, how far will his powers extend?
There is still pressure. There are still people unsatisfied and wanting more. LeBron James is uniquely talented. I would say he has gone from a top 30 player of all-time to a top 20 player with the completion of this season. For someone with his skill set that isn’t enough. He’ll certainly climb the ladder. Numbers and MVP’s are nice, but they won’t be enough.
LeBron James came into the NBA with such incredible promise we pronounced him King. He promised us, “not 1, not 2, not 3, not 4, not 5, not 6, not 7. And when I say that, I really believe it. We believe we can win multiple championships.”
So we are waiting King. Although you feel different today, you’ll realize again still, uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.