We all miss basketball.
The sound of the ball as it goes through the hoop. The squeak of the sneakers on the hardwood. The roar of the crowd. Mike Breen’s “Bang!” or Boom Gonzales’ “Gets it to go!”
What’s the best way to cope when you miss something you can’t have at the moment? You write it a love letter.
It was back in 2005 when I first got a glimpse of your greatness. I was watching your game on BTV and witnessed how you scorched the Toronto Raptors, scoring your first 50-point game.
At that time, I barely even knew you. Heck, I barely even knew anything about the NBA outside of the Lakers. I little knowledge that a high school prospect from Akron, Ohio was regarded as one of the most highly anticipated player to enter the league. I never knew that a young King had arrived and was ready to take over the NBA.
But during that game, my uncle who was watching with me said something about you that left a mark on me. These words were enough for me to believe in the hype. After all, you did just score 56 in that game.
“Yan ang susunod na Michael Jordan.”
From that point on, I was sold. To hear this legendary comparison was reason enough for me to follow your NBA journey. I rooted for you from there on. In short, I became one of your witnesses.
I witnessed in awe how you single-handedly carried the 2007 Cavaliers to the NBA Finals. I witnessed with pure frustration how the Orlando Magic thwarted a potential Kobe-LeBron NBA Finals matchup in 2009.
I witnessed how you finally captured your first elusive chip with the Miami Heat. I witnessed history when you led the Cavs to its first ever championship after trailing 3-1 in the 2016 NBA Finals.
More than the accolades, perhaps what most mesmerized me is how you grew to become such a complete player. During your early years with the Cavs, you were the most athletic and gifted scoring small forward in the league. You dominated as a power forward on both ends of the floor during your Heatles days. And you, well, played almost every position during your latest four year run with the Land.
Season after season, your game evolved into something more. And year after year, you always proved that you’re still the undisputed best among the best in the world.
For all your basketball marvels, however, this season’s version of LeBron James was my all-time favorite to watch for a couple of reasons.
First, you’re donning the Purple and Gold. As a Laker fan, that was a given. But more importantly, you’re finally playing the postion you were meant to play: point guard.
Yes, you can pretty much dominate any game playing whatever position you needed to play. But the reality is, the magic of LeBron James is at its best when the ball is in your hands. You are a natural playmaker. And even though you could probably beat Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the history list as the greatest scorer of all time, you have always been a pass first guy.
In fact, if someone will ask me to name my all-time starting five, I would always name you as my starting point guard. You have always made everyone around you better just by showcasing your superior basketball IQ and your natural instinct to make the right plays for others.
That is why watching you and the Lakers climb to the top of the Western Conference during this season was a joy to watch. Every game was highlight filled: The lob passes to Anthony Davis, Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee. Or the no-look dimes during fast break runs to Kyle Kuzma or Alex Caruso. Even the improbable cross-court, right on the shooting pocket bullet passes to Avery Bradley or Danny Green.
Every game, I would just sit and watch in awe on how you brilliantly controlled the game and distributed the rock to your teammates.
Now here we are, with the NBA season suspended, cutting short your magical and brilliant run as the point guard of the Lakers.
Frankly, this season will forever be remembered for a different number of reasons, both the good ones and the bad ones. But as I sit here and look back on the things that I miss in basketball now that it is abruptly taken away from us, these thoughts will always be on the top of my head:
In year 17.
35 years young.
Leads the league in assists.
Best point guard in the league.
Who would’ve guessed that? But, just like the movements on the court, I’m pretty sure you already saw that coming when you signed on to be the court general of the Lakers.