Why I Care So Much That #LeBron Is the Greatest

iThere I was about a fortnight ago, lazily sprawled upon my couch, watching the NBA Finals and witnessing greatness. 

It’s funny to witness greatness from your couch. I mean, a short hundred years ago you had to put clothes on and travel to some distant venue to witness an athletic triumph. Now I vege out on comfy cushions for two hours, even propping up my arm to maximize remote efficiency and minimize human effort, while LeBron soars like a pterodactyl to make the greatest block of all time, and I’m like “I’d clap, but my arms are asleep,” so instead I acknowledge the remarkable human feat with a barely audible grunt. So I witnessed greatness.

Not only was I pulling for greatness, I was pulling for LeBron. There it is, I said it! Drag me out into the public square and hack-a-Shaq me to death. Cry foul just like the whining superstar whom you can’t fathom how I could appreciate. Really, unless you’re a Clevelander, pulling for LeBron is taboo.

What’s not taboo (though it should be) is the litany of cliches about why LeBron isn’t great, or at least not one of the greatest. He’s not a closer like Mike. He shrinks in big moments. He gets all the calls. He’s built like a fortified steam engine, how could he not be great? I mean, if he were 6 feet and had little muscles he wouldn’t be so great. Right, because then he’d be me. 

So I try to be objective, but LeBron haters (and there are scores of them) generally won’t have any of it. It’s like he could score all 150 of his team’s points and someone would say he’s a ball hog. He’ll never win the minds of those people.

So when I hear the foolish arguments, I notice my pulse go up a tick and and my brain telling me to take deep breaths. I feel the anger brewing inside of me. If LeBron were here he would tomahawk slam a basketball down your esophagus. 

Equally, my conversational adversary is also getting worked up. Their voice raises and their cheeks redden. Then I say something incendiary like, “LeBron would eat Jordan’s lunch,” and watch the incensed volcanic eruption of incantations spewing from their mouths. “You’re effing nuts! Do you watch sports?! You’ll burn for this, Spigot. Burrrrrn!”

In the midst of these arguments, I wonder why we are so defensive about something that has absolutely zero bearing on our lives. LeBron is as present in my life as a North Pole elf. Yet I talk, read and think about him more than than I do my own family. Why?

Ron Gant raises his fist after he hit a three-run homer in the ninth inning to beat the San Diego Padres 4-1 Tuesday night at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. Photo taken May 21, 1991. (Frank Niemeir / AJC staff)

Do you remember as a kid, you would proudly proclaim to the other kids who your idol was? My idol was Ron Gant. Who the hell is Ron Gant you ask? Well that’s a fine question.

Ron Gant was an outfielder for the Atlanta Braves. He was a good player, but not great. But something about the way he played left me enamored. I watched his every at bat. I collected every one of his baseball cards, outnumbering Cal Ripken, Jr. and Ken Griffey, Jr. cards combined. I wrote him letters and sent him pictures to autograph—which I never saw again—but you can bet your baseballs I gave Ron Gant the benefit of the doubt. He was just way too busy enjoying the awesomeness of being Ron Gant.

Now, I’m going to make an extremely rash assumption that Ron Gant was not your idol. But I’m going to make a less rash assumption that you had one. It could’ve been another athlete like Michael Jordan, a pop star like Michael Jackson, or a Commy politician like Mikhail Gorbachev (no?).

But as we aged, we stopped caring about who was the greatest shooter or guitar player. We stopped giving the benefit of the doubt to our idols who made poor choices. We stopped fawning over people and getting all neurotic when we actually saw them in person.

Or did we?

Perhaps our infatuation with stars is not as overt as it once was, but is it any less passionate? No, I’m not physically falling over and worshipping stars, but don’t I get all cranky and flustered on the inside when they’re struggling in a game, or flopping on stage, or being ripped by a media personality?

The truth is, we defend who we love. We defend our spouse, our kids, our best friends, and of course, John Stamos. If someone attacks them, we unleash the claws like Wolverine.

lebron-crownWait, wasn’t this post about LeBron? Yes. In fact, I love LeBron. Which sounds really stupid when I say it. I don’t know him at all. I’ve never seen him in person. He is just a big, great basketball player in my TV. But more than that, he is the greatest player of my generation. He is an athlete I strangely take pride in. Like he is some small part of my life. Like I cling to his legacy as if it were my own. Like way deep down, I just want to marvel at his greatness.

Or, do I just desire to marvel at someone great, period? What is this part of me that infatuates itself with other humans who are the same species as me? It seems weird. It seems misplaced.

I can only conclude that my desire to marvel at and ascribe greatness to someone is because I was created to do so. But when that someone, that idol, a being as temporal as myself, is elevated to the throne of my affection, is it any wonder I am left with such emptiness?

What if I was made to marvel at something greater? Indeed, if I was made at all, by more than a chaotic and fortuitous conglomeration of stardust, would I not esteem that Maker? Could it be that the amazingness of me, you, LeBron and every human are simply reflections of our more amazing Maker? And wouldn’t I desire to marvel at that Maker, to behold Him, to love Him?

Possibly. Yet I find myself much more easily captivated by greatness that is obvious, observable and tangible. Why toil to pursue something more abstract, uncertain and non-empirical? Quick-fix greatness witnessing is readily at my disposal.

I don’t even have to get off my couch.

Beware the Rise of the “New Mechanics”

13-more-auto-mechanic-secrets-11-money-slAs consumers, we can’t possibly know everything there is to know about what we buy.

If I’m in the market for a cologne, I will know next to nothing about that cologne by the time I purchase. I won’t know about the laboratory processes of making it, combining oils from tropical wild flowers and whatnot with synthetic chemicals and, who knows, the musk of a fruit bat?

I won’t know who packaged it or where. I won’t know if it kills skin cells. I won’t know if someone peed in it before putting the cap on. All I will know is that when I dab it on my neck I’ll stink good.

It’s like this with lots of things. If we had to know everything about things we’d buy, we’d never buy anything at all.

So certain professions take advantage. They’re aware we hardly know anything about what they do, so we’ll just blindly take them at their word.

Auto mechanics are infamous for this. It’s like George Costanza said, “Well of course they’re trying to screw you, that’s what they do, they can make up anything. Nobody knows. ‘By the way, you’re gonna need a new Johnson rod in here.'”

Thankfully, I have a great mechanic. And it’s rather cliche to pick on them anyway. Instead, I’ve identified two other professions that deserve a watchful eye. In fact, they might be the “new mechanics,” with their exploitation of our ignorance soon to make them as cliched as mechanics. 


The fact that my mouth isn’t perfect requires no professional revelation. With 30-some teeth and a freely moving mandible crunching day and night, something is bound to go wrong. I just don’t think I require the NASA-designed head gear being prescribed.

Yes, my bite is a little off. Yes, I grind my teeth too much when I hear country song lyrics. But that shouldn’t warrant a tailor-made oral contraption I have to finance. Seriously, I recently was given the choice of having an out-of-pocket-custom-molded night guard, or a $5 mouthpiece from Walmart, accomplishing the very same effect. So I head to bed like a damn linebacker but I got a stack of Jacksons to buy all the incisor-yanking turkey jerky I can stuff my face with.


money-dog-196x300I don’t understand my dog’s anatomy. I know she has a heart and I think she has a brain. Other than that, your guess is as good as mine as to whatever is going on with her body. Vets know this and it won’t be long before they wax on your pooch’s need for a new Johnson rod. Oh. And they know you love them. Which means you are willing to pay whatever you have to to alleviate the Johnson rod issue.

A few years ago, the vet recommended a teeth cleaning. There was a pernicious plaque build up destined to destroy my dog’s beautiful smile, so I obliged to the tune of 300 bones (not the kind for doggies). After the procedure, it came back that she actually had mild plaque build up. So I non-mildly expectorated some choice curses, balled up the receipt and vowed to never let a vet look at my beagle’s teeth again.

Of course, some maintenance on your pet is required. It’s the law to give your dog a rabies shot. But vets tend to make recommendations like they’re imperatives. Once a conversation went like this:

Vet: Your dog is due for her Lepto shot.

Me: What’s that for?

Vet: For your dog if they drink water outside.

Me: You mean any outside water?

Vet: Like water from a stream or lake.

Me: So if my dog drinks from a lake, she can get Lepto?

Vet: Yes, if the lake water has the Lepto virus in it.

Me: So if my dog happens to be outside, unsupervised, at a lake, where that water happens to have Lepto, and she happens to drink the water, she can get Lepto?

Vet: Yes.

Me: Call me a deadbeat dog owner but I’m gonna take my chances. Save the Lepto shot for the guy who brings in his dingo.

So just like everything, among the many good dentists and vets there are some bad ones. If you’ve received a costly estimate on something you’re not sure about, you can ask them this very important question:

Is this absolutely necessary, and if so, what’s the least amount of money I can pay and not ruin my life?

It’s a fair question and can help you from getting ripped off in the long run.

Have you been taken by one of these professions? Am I missing a profession that could vie for the “new mechanic” role?