LeBron James has officially entered the “senior citizen” stage of his career where he just barely it does not matter what someone says or thinks about their actions. Channeling his inner Michael Jordan, James was seen strolling through the Staples Center on Tuesday night to face the Phoenix Suns, cigar in hand. The NBA crew on TNT (mainly Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal) weren’t big fans of this LeBron move.
“That’s a cigar, brother,” Smith said. “That guy is entering the arena with a cigar. Yo, that’s disrespectful. If we lose that game and a guy comes in with a cigar … I’m not a fighter, but I’d fight everyone in the locker room. “
Obviously, the old bosses took this as a sign of disrespect towards one of James’ best friends, Chris Paul, and the rest of the Suns. Smith, who is a two-time NBA champion with the Houston Rockets, even went so far as to say he was going to knock us out.
I honestly don’t think James did this to play head games or to disrespect Phoenix in any way. LeBron doesn’t give a damn about what you, me, Kenny or Shaq have to say anymore. It will do what it does, and we all just have to live with it. James reached that point a while ago, but now he’s really embracing it and saying the world is damned. A couple of years ago, LeBron showed up to a game with a glass of wine in hand. It was probably meant as disrespect since he was against the Clippers.
James knows that at this point in his career he is only competing against two people: he is trying to overtake himself, and he’s trying to outdo that guy in the most popular basketball shoe who won six rings in Chicago. That’s all. Even if you don’t think he’s the best player in the association today, no other current player is at his level in the all-time leaderboard. James is the only player active in the conversation for the greatest of all time. Whether you think it’s James, Michael Jordan, or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the Lakers No. 6 is in that conversation. Most sane NBA fans (or anyone over 30) have this trio in the all-time top three.
LeBron’s next act should be entering the arena carrying a basket of wine and cheese. Hopefully, he’ll take him out on the pitch and distribute the glasses on the sidelines so the Lakers can have a drink before the tip. Talk about disrespect. That would be a time for the ages.