They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If so, it’s no wonder LeBron James’s signature celebration lands as my No. 1 show of expression in sports.
Debuted in Cleveland on March 20, 2013, when James was still a member of the Miami Heat, the King’s victory dance has been copied by guys like Ohio State’s Braxton Miller at the time, ex-Pittsburgh Steelers’ William Gay, and LeBron’s son.
It’s violent yet straightforward, intense enough to represent the enormity of the moment, but not so over the top that it bothers you. The pushing down of the hands three times, palms facing the floor, as if the air were so thick you could touch it. The double-tap of the right hand over the chest. The primal scream that follows. It all comes together to create “The Silencer” because James did something incredible; it quieted a hostile crowd. It’s the best signature celebration in the NBA.
“I have had opportunities to do it obviously lately,” James said. “It is great when you have other athletes not only in your own respective sport but other sports that respect what you do and know the meaning behind it. I have always been humble that I can see other athletes mimic some of the things that I do.”
King James rarely used it this season. For the first time in his royal 15-year NBA career, James played in all 82 regular-season games. In the process, this regular season James became the first player in league history to win ten straight division titles (two in Cleveland, four straight in Miami, and another four straight with Cleveland). The icing on the cake; James passed Kareem Abdul Jabaar on the all-time 30-point game list. These are just a few items on his resume before he hangs up the Nikes.
He is my number two on Mount Rushmore in the sport of basketball history.
James is that great. He is the best player of his generation.
What is fascinating he gets no credit for his conditioning. He is in phenomenal shape. You rarely see him tired or exhausted.
The four-time league MVP played 48 minutes, scored 35 points with 15 rebounds and nine assists, leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to an 87-79 win over the Celtics and eliminating Boston from the Eastern Conference finals in the decisive seventh game.
The number one attribute that you get from the most significant players who have played the basketball game is that they will never cheat the fans. They are the headline. That is LeBron James, nearly a triple-double in game seven of the Eastern Conference finals.
“In order to succeed, it has to be a team effort. I know I get a lot of the headlines, win lose or draw. To be successful, it is a team game. I learn that from when I first picked up a basketball at age nine,” James said. “You get all the doubters and people who have never stepped in the arena, who has never played basketball, put on a tank top and shorts always want to kill my teammates. It is unfair to them, but I am always going to be true to the game of basketball. Because the game of basketball has always stayed true to me, that’s why we are going to another Finals.”
Cavaliers finished fourth in the east during the regular season. They looked steak well done in the first round. Were down 0-2 to the Celtics in the Conference Finals.
James is just better. Ask teams in teams in the east. He has sent the Toronto Raptors, Washington Wizards, Atlanta Hawks, and Detroit Pistons fishing three times. Chicago Bulls four times, Indiana Pacers, and recently the Celtics five times. Kyle Lowry, Derrick Rose, Paul George, Joakim Noah, Paul Pierce, and Al Horford. For the eighth straight year, he is taking his talents to the NBA finals.
James played 48 minutes in what is already his 100th game of the year, with at least four more to come. James has been in the finals every year since 2011 — four with Miami and now four straight with Cleveland.
This might be his weakest supporting cast for Lebron.
“Win, lose or draw no matter what, at the end of my career, you will never get someone to say he did not leave it all on the floor,” James said. “Wins and loses and ties that happens throughout the course of life. It is how you pick yourself up and how you continue to get better.”
James and the Cavaliers will face the Golden State Warriors for the fourth straight year. They are expected to be underdogs. James will have another chance to silence.