Ever have one of those moments of introspection where suddenly, you discover why certain things just seem to go together?
Peanut butter & jam…?
Rum & coke…?
Snoop & weed…?
The Kardashians & the smell of desperation...?
Welp, I have. After watching the recently released Amy Schumer movie Trainwreck, I felt compelled to look inward; and, just like that – I had an “a-ha” moment!
Hold your horses! My revelation had nothing to do with the topic of sexual promiscuity or relationship goals. BUT - it had everything to do with one guy: LeBron James. Yes. That’s right. After some ultra-light soul-searching and a smooth rum & coke, I’ve come to understand why I just can’t see it for “King James”. It’s because he’s simply not Michael Jordan and will never be. A ground-breaking conclusion, yes? Alright, layman’s terms…
Essentially, what I’ve now come to understand is that my choices in NBA teams, athletes and coaches that I most admire, seem to be a direct reflection of my own introvert personality. Anyone who knows me, knows that I ‘stan’ (aka “am a huge fan”) for the Chicago Bulls. Growing up, I always loved watching the Bulls and their unselfish style of play. I loved their camaraderie and watching them be led by His Airness: Michael Jordan in the 90s. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve also come to enjoy a very select few other NBA teams; namely the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Golden State Warriors. And, just as I developed a liking for those teams, I developed a quiet disconnect from (or disdain for) some others, like the LA Lakers and the Miami Heat (and their respective coaches). The logic behind my choices is now clear and pretty self-evident: LeBron James and Erik Spoelstra (or, now David Blatt of the Cavs) will never be the next Michael Jordan and Phil Jackson to me, because Jordan is the introvert and James is an extrovert. There you have it folks. I dig introverts. I hope that doesn't qualify as discrimination :/
When I really think about the NBA teams and players that I love the most, I realize that they all share an overall common denominator, which is that of a ‘quiet confidence’. The leaders of all my favourite teams play brilliantly, strategically and confidently. I suppose many NBA players do, to be fair. However, when I really look at players and coaches like Michael Jordan and Phil Jackson, Kevin Durant and Scott Brooks, Stephen Curry and Steve Kerr, and even Derrick Rose and Tom Thibodeau - the calm dynamic they have among them, as well as the type of energy they put out on the floor… it has always seemed to stem from that quiet confidence. The decisions and actions that they display on the court are often phenomenal and beastly; yet my favourite players remain humble. There’s no noticeable or overarching pretense when they play. They give you a show; they play big and they achieve greatness, but they don’t necessarily crave the extra attention and fanfare. Showboating doesn’t come as naturally to them as it does for many other members of the NBA (many of whom have skills of a much lesser caliber than my faves). I see now that what draws me into the games and forces me to root for those particular teams is my desire to see the introvert win.
Now, this isn’t to say that I hate extroverts. Some of my best friends are extroverts! (*inserts awkward ‘black friends’ joke and shifty eyes here*). In fact, I actually quite admire many extroverts for their ability to effortlessly command a crowd and/or attention. Their innate ability and desire to fully speak their minds at any given time is also something that I respect; and let's face it... A party without a couple of extroverts who've had one too many would be painfully boring. I enjoy the dynamic of being friends with extroverts (they're the gin to my juice); but I also can't quite relate to their personality traits. I'm a textbook introvert, if ever there was such a definition. I’ve taken all of the personality quizzes available on Google, so at this point, my self-professed introversion is not a theory, but a FACT, because Google is the law, dammit! Five key traits of an introvert (or a small window to my soul, if you will):
- Doesn’t feel the need to seek out social interaction (having to be social actually drains me emotionally sometimes), and tends to keep emotions private;
- Has a small group of close friends and chooses friends very carefully;
- Finds “small talk” highly annoying and tedious (see my previous blog post: “Respect the (ear)bud”), but really enjoys meaningful conversations;
- Thinks deeply about things before talking, voicing an opinion or offering an explanation;
- Interested in self-knowledge and self-understanding.
So there you have it. When I look at those traits, especially the first two points, I can see the connection between myself and my favourite players, like Michael Jordan. In my opinion, Jordan was the guy who everyone relied on, but who himself, relied on and believed in his teammates/ brothers to help him achieve greatness. He may have been the one making the highlight reels and taking the big shots, but he always acknowledged that without the talents of teammates like Pippen, Rodman, Kukoc and Kerr, he wouldn’t be the legend he is today. There was a strong sense of brotherhood within his team. And outside of the iconic tongue-wag during his now infamous "Jumpman" dunk pose, he didn’t really grandstand or show off after every play. He did his job and kept it moving.
Therein lies my disconnect with LeBron James. His actions and ‘decisions’ are often very grandiose and extra… to put it simply. And while he does technically play well with others (like a kindergartner who reluctantly shares their Lego with other kids), I never really get the sense that he values his teammates; and he often has no problem arrogantly declaring that his talents are superior to those of others. James seems to be comfortable with and feed off of outside attention, whereas Jordan seemed (IMO) to not rely so much on the attention, but instead worked at gaining respect through his consistency and dedication to the game and to his team.
All that being said – it’s fair to note that I actually really enjoyed LeBron’s supporting role in Trainwreck. No joke. I mean, yes… he was basically playing himself; but the role called for a more whimsical, emotionally-connected version of himself; and he did a very good job of it. To see his funny side was refreshing, and if this ball thing doesn’t last for him, I’m pretty sure he could secure a few big paychecks as a cameo actor.
Note to LeBron: Once you’ve won TWO three-peats within an 8-year span, on the same NBA team, holla at your girl! I’d be happy to revisit my perception of you at that point.
“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.” ~ Michael Jordan