Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: LeBron James Is Bigger Than the 'GOAT' Debate, He's a Hero for Our Time; in a Piece Written Exclusively for Newsweek, the NBA's All-Time Scoring Leader Reflects on the Remarkable Career of LeBron James, on and off the Court

By Abdul-Jabbar, Kareem | Newsweek, February 22, 2019 | Go to article overview

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: LeBron James Is Bigger Than the 'GOAT' Debate, He's a Hero for Our Time; in a Piece Written Exclusively for Newsweek, the NBA's All-Time Scoring Leader Reflects on the Remarkable Career of LeBron James, on and off the Court


Abdul-Jabbar, Kareem, Newsweek


Byline: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

In Paul Simon's "The Boy in the Bubble," he sings, "It's every generation throws a hero up the pop charts." It's both an observation and a lament about how each generational changing of the guard demands its own unique voice, coded language and defiant look. That need to rebelliously announce and define what's news and cool while scornfully denouncing what's old and uncool is as true in laundry detergents (New and Improved!) as it is in music, literature, politics--and sports.

Every age needs ageless heroes. But it's important that we closely study our culture's most prominent heroes because they reflect the trending values we are being asked to embrace while pointing to the future those values will lead us to. This generation's most prominent basketball hero is LeBron James, and he clearly represents a bold new language.

LeBron isn't the shiny new penny of sports. At 34, he's no perky teen idol or sassy YouTube "influencer." He's a 16-year veteran of the NBA who's played for the Cleveland Cavaliers (twice), the Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Lakers. He's a husband, a dad, and, though he's playing with the intensity of a man in the prime of his athletic and intellectual prowess, he's not too many years from doing ads for joint-pain medication. His status as sports icon has been earned from years of grinding out victory after victory on a daily basis.

Why him when there are many great players out there? Steph Curry is paid more (his salary is $37 million versus LeBron's $35 million), and last year Curry's jersey was the top NBA seller. But LeBron has the most followers on social media, with 104.3 million (Curry has 42 million). Kevin Durant has higher three-point and free-throw percentages, but LeBron beats him in most other categories. Part of his statistical dominance is that he's been playing longer than Curry and Durant. With time, they both may surpass him as players, but for now LeBron is considered by many to be the best in the NBA.

LeBron's overwhelming career achievements include three NBA championships, four times NBA Most Valuable Player, 15 times NBA All-Star and many other awards and distinctions. But here's another reason he's considered the best: LeBron has been selected as the No. 1 NBA player by Sports Illustrated for six years in a row because of his remarkable consistency. He's proved himself to be steadfastly effective no matter where he plays, who he plays with or what his age is. Some years, he has single-handedly dragged less experienced and less talented teammates into the playoffs. His consistency is illustrated by his stats from the 2012-2013 season, which are very similar to those of the 2017-2018 season. For a player in his 20s, that wouldn't be noteworthy, but when comparing a 28-year-old with a 34-year-old, it's not only impressive, it's inspiring.

To inspire others is a key trait in a cultural hero. LeBron's sheer athleticism motivates young players to reach for a high standard of physical preparedness. His physical dominance isn't just genetic luck; he is dedicated and disciplined in his workout and diet, often rising at 5 a.m. to begin exercising, which he does five days a week off-season, and seven days a week during the season. His routine includes everything from a step-climber, spin classes, Pilates and weights to hot tubs, cold tubs and a liquid nitrogen chamber. Just reading about his relentless routine makes me want to drop and pump out 50 pushups.

Which brings us to another heroic characteristic: perseverance. LeBron reportedly spends over a million dollars a year on his training, which includes a personal biomechanist--a former Navy SEAL--traveling with him on vacation. We don't begrudge him that expense--he's a professional athlete whose body has been abused and bruised since childhood. Back problems have plagued him for years. He is certainly rich enough to retire anytime he wants, but he keeps stepping out onto the court each year to receive more physical punishment. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: LeBron James Is Bigger Than the 'GOAT' Debate, He's a Hero for Our Time; in a Piece Written Exclusively for Newsweek, the NBA's All-Time Scoring Leader Reflects on the Remarkable Career of LeBron James, on and off the Court
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.