This is why he came back home.
Tonight, LeBron James lead his team to a game 7 win in Oakland. They defeated the Golden State Warriors, literally the best team (with the best record) ever. They did it after trailing 3-1 in the series, even though no other team had ever done that to win a championship.
But the Cavs did it.
And they gave the city of Cleveland its first title, in any professional sports, since 1964.
After the game, Doris Burke found LeBron in the middle of the floor, as he was fighting back tears and soaking in the moment. He told her, “I set out a goal two years when I came back, to bring a championship to this city. I gave everything that I had. I poured my heart, my blood, my sweat, my tears into this game. Against all odds, I don’t know why we want to take the hardest road. I don’t know why the man above give me the hardest road, but … the man above don’t put you in situations that you can’t handle. I just kept that same positive attitude. Instead of saying why me, I said this is what He wants me to do. And, uh, Cleveland — this is for you!”
Yes, today we get to see the superstar millionaire uber famous NBA legend. And you might think, “Who cares about basketball, or sports, or anything else that has no eternal value…”
But maybe seeing the journey LeBron James took, to get to where he is, will help you see the Good News in it.
LeBron Raymone James was born to a 16-year-old mother in the projects of Akron, Ohio. Mama Gloria did her best to raise him on her own. They moved frequently. Found little support. She even had to temporarily surrender custody of her son until she could get her finances sorted out.
Thankfully, LeBron found sanctuary on the basketball court. And it was the sport itself that allowed him to trace a new pattern for his life and his children.
(Watch his story here: More Than a Game)
He married his high school sweetheart. He has 3 kids. Does tons of charity work. And still travels with his mama. Yes, there’s something about the dude that gets me. (LBJ is properly my man crush.) #NoShame
One night he prayed to the ‘Lord and Savior Jesus Christ’ while surrounding Rodney Stuckey. A reporter noted that James called the players together in a prayer circle after Stuckey suffered an apparent seizure and was taken to Cleveland Clinic Hospital.
This is The Faith of LeBron James.
I know, I’m trying to spiritualize him now that he’s the winner and all over the news. But you have to understand that I’ve been following his career since the beginning. Suffered with him through the “almost” years with the Cleveland Cavaliers. And literally cried for 15 minutes when he won the championship and Finals MVP with the Miami Heat (twice).
(Yes, I cried both times).
His journey is kind of like the journey of God’s son, Jesus Christ.
Yes, I said it. LeBron’s story is like Jesus’ story (and Jesus is my Ultimate Man Crush).
Look, the guy decided to reduce his status as “the man” and instead choose to play alongside friends and comrades. He won because he approached the game from a “we” perspective as opposed to an “I” perspective. On the court he is more a “servant” than a “ruler.”
So it’s true. He is neither Kobe nor Jordan. He’s actually much better! (Yes, I also said that… he’s the king.)
LeBron is beyond talented, yet constantly puts others before himself. He celebrates more when he passes and his teammates score than when he himself puts on the one-man-show.
The sports-media is constantly demanding that he acts more like the older generation.
Pick more fights.
Make more enemies.
Be the alpha-dog.
He decided to come back home to Cleveland (and we know it was not because of the weather) – He did it for the right reasons. He chose his people. His city. His crowd. And above all, his family.
I wish more of us Church Leaders would take the LeBron approach: To acknowledge our abilities but make them available for others to shine. To forgive those who hurt us in the past and start working with them again.
To choose our family above the work.
The community above the spotlight.
The right-thing before the convenient-thing.
LeBron said it best in his letter to Cleveland announcing his return,
I feel my calling here goes above basketball. I have a responsibility to lead, in more ways than one, and I take that very seriously. My presence can make a difference in Miami, but I think it can mean more where I’m from. I want kids in Northeast Ohio, like the hundreds of Akron third-graders I sponsor through my foundation, to realize that there’s no better place to grow up. Maybe some of them will come home after college and start a family or open a business. That would make me smile. Our community, which has struggled so much, needs all the talent it can get.
As ESPN wrote on the night of his return to Cleveland, “Tonight was part homecoming, part family reunion, part revival meeting and a huge celebration rolled into one.” But they lost that game. He played poorly. The emotions and the nerves were more powerful than the skill. That’s how much this means to him.
A random night this past season, he lost a game to the New Orleans Pelicans. He did everything he could to win for the Cavs, and he lost. Then, while trying to explain that the pending return of his teammates Kyrie Irving and Iman Shumpert to the lineup was not an automatic guarantor of success, he said:
“It’s only one guy in the world, ever, where everything will be all right when he comes back, and that’s Jesus Christ. Other than that, you can’t bank on nobody being OK.”
You’re right LeBron James. So very right.
This is the Gospel according to LeBron James. And I for one feel privileged to witness The Best Ever, making the best decisions, in the best way possible.
But more than that, I’m glad we are both waiting for the return of the one true King!
Then, everything will be alright.
Tonight, we celebrate the championship. We acknowledge the greatness of this series. And keep our hope on The Man Above.
+ Watch the video below and enjoy the goosebumps: