SALT LAKE CITY — LeBron James scored the 30,000th point of his career this week, and I want to be the first to congratulate him. Except someone beat me to it.
Earlier this week, even before he actually broke the mark, LeBron James posted a heartwarming Instagram to LeBron James:
Wanna be one of the first to Congratulate you on this accomplishment/achievement tonight that you’ll reach! Only a handful has reach/seen it too and while I know it’s never been a goal of yours from the beginning try (please try) to take a moment for yourself on how you’ve done it! The House you’re about to be apart of has only 6 seats in it (as of now) but 1 more will be added and you should be very proud and honored to be invited inside. There’s so many people to thank who has help this even become possible (so thank them all) and when u finally get your moment (alone) to yourself smile, look up to the higher skies and say THANK YOU! So with that said, Congrats again Young King
Besides sending English teachers screaming into their pillows, this struck many as an odd thing to do (see Internet comments). At least he didn’t send himself flowers or a Hallmark card — or maybe he just failed to mention it. Anyway, welcome again to the continually unfolding world of social media, where every thought and selfie is sent to the world.
Self-esteem is not an issue for James. He has never been shy about self-promotion. He has CHOSEN1 tattooed on his back and refers to himself as KING.
A few years ago he said that if basketball had a Mount Rushmore, he would be on it “for sure.” He’s continually talking about his “legacy” and lobbying for awards. When someone once noted that he guarded every position on the court, he said, “That’s why I should be Defensive Player of the Year. No one has ever done this before.”
The point is, he thinks aloud in these terms unlike any star athlete ever. In a way, you have to admire the outbreak of honesty. There was none of the usual pretense in which a player says he has no interest in individual honors and stats, that all he cares about is the team.
This is the unwritten rule in sports. In the real world, there’s a similar unwritten rule that requires heroes to say they aren’t heroes.
It’s difficult to imagine other star athletes and celebrities posting self-congratulatory Instagrams. Michael Jordan, Jerry West, Bill Russell, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, John Stockton and Jerry Sloan would leave it to others to make such pronouncements (but not Terrell Owens and Kanye West). Yes, it’s old-fashioned and pre-social media, but it never goes out of style.
In the movie "Broadcast News," the William Hurt and Albert Brooks characters have the following exchange:
Hurt: “What do you do when your real life exceeds your dreams?”
Brooks: “Keep it to yourself.”
Not LeBron. He tells you about it on social media — even if his team is tanking. The Cavaliers are in the midst of a terrible slump, having lost 11 of their last 15 games, and six of the last seven, and James is talking about how well he’s doing. This is considered bad form in the sports world. But James has always been tone deaf (to wit: his staged announcement that he was taking his “talents” to Miami). Twitter turned James’ self-congratulations into a meme and have spawned numerous spoofs.
There was nothing wrong in taking a moment to appreciate his achievements, but why tell it to the world? It’s not as if there is a shortage of praise in the media for James.
He has a habit of forgetting what the ultimate measure of his profession is and should be, even after being reminded of it a few years ago.
When James named the four players he would put on basketball’s theoretical Mount Rushmore (including himself of course), Bill Russell responded to James by saying, “Hey, thank you for leaving me off your Mount Rushmore. I’m glad you did. Basketball is a team game. It’s not for individual honors. I won back-to-back state championships in high school, back-to-back NCAA championships in college. I won an NBA championship my first year in the league, an NBA championship in my last year, and nine in between. That, Mr. James, is etched in stone.”