Feature: The 12th Man

LeBest Season Ever?

Author: Jimmy Winskowski
Published: February 21, 2012 at 8:20 am

Only a few years ago, LeBron James was one of the most overwhelmingly popular athletes in America. He was adored by fans and media alike and widely beloved as the hometown hero of Cleveland, a sports town dying for something to cheer for.

But that all changed in an instant.

Just three months after "The Decision," LeBron had already become the sixth most-hated athlete in America. It was a position, I daresay, that LeBron had never been in.

And in his first season following the most publicized breakup since Brad and Jennifer, LeBron vowed that all of the negative criticism and widespread hatred would only fuel him to win. He was determined to play with a Jordanesque chip on his shoulder that would drive him to prove all of the doubters and haters wrong.

Well, he fell short.

His shortcomings ended up as fodder for media members like Skip Bayless, who mocked James' late game struggles by dubbing the self-anointed "Chosen One" as "The Frozen One." Even impartial writers (such as yours truly) responded with articles chronicling "LeBreakdown."

These criticisms (and more) led LeBron to spend a quiet Summer out of the media spotlight, focusing on his game. He added crucial elements to his skillset and determined that he was going to shed the "villain" role. He said, “I started to play the game of basketball at a level or a mindset that I have never played at before. Angry. That’s not the way I play the game of basketball.” (ESPN's "LeBron James: No More Mr. Bad Guy")

While all of this has led to a small rebound in LeBron's popularity, it has produced another, more impressive byproduct: LeBron James is in the middle of one of the greatest seasons in NBA history.

Am I exaggerating? No. According to ESPN master statistician John Hollinger's Player Efficiency Rating (a proprietary metric that compares players of different eras based on personal performance and exterior competitive factors,) LeBron's current stats are better than Michael Jordan's ever were.

Continued on the next page

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Article Author: Jimmy Winskowski

I'm just your typical, everyday, Christian (Mormon,) West Coast, generation Y blogger with plenty to say. Sports. Politics. Social Media.

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