Jealousy

The Miami Heat and the Seattle Supersonics Oklahoma City Thunder will go head-to-head in the NBA Finals beginning tomorrow night, and whether you believe the fix was on or not it’s difficult to deny the incredible display of basketball put on as of late by LeBron James. He may not have always been Mr. Clutch, but his statistics for the Eastern Conference Finals – somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 points and 10 rebounds per game – were phenomenal, punctuated by his 45-point, 15-rebound performance in Boston in Game 6.

It was in that very Game 6, though, that I came to realize why I (and the majority of the NBA-watching world, it seems) have never been able as a fan to fully embrace LeBron as a player. There was a play early on in the game in which James was bringing the ball up the court for the Heat. The Boston Celtics’ Paul Pierce attempted to pick him up at the top of the key, but James didn’t even seem to notice him. LeBron’s first step was so explosive, in fact, that he pretty much bypassed the entire Celtics defense on his way to a ferocious one-handed slam dunk.

They whole play probably took less than five seconds to execute, but it was performed so effortlessly by James I was left with the question of why he didn’t just do that every time down the floor. Granted, NBA defenses will not part like the Red Sea like that on every possession, but it was obvious LeBron could take that step on Pierce every time if he wanted to. Even if he didn’t make it all the way to rim, he would at least draw other defenders into the paint, freeing up shots for Steve Urkel Dwyane Wade. The next trip down the floor, though, James would attempt – and make – a 20-foot jump shot. I’m not even sure he attempted to drive, which left me audibly asking my television set, “If he can have it every time, why wouldn’t he drive the lane every trip down the floor?”

And that is when it hit me: I’m jealous of LeBron James … or, at least, I’m jealous of people like LeBron James.

In the physical realm, we’ve all known people who seem like they can go straight from their couches to running marathons. I have a friend who, no matter how much he had or had not exercised, could always jump up and pull the rim down on a 10-foot basketball goal. Even in peak condition, I do well to barely graze the bottom loop of the net. Some guys get muscular; I get thin. You may be the type to gain 10 pounds just by walking by a box of doughnuts.

In a broader sense, though, I think we’ve all known people who seem to be able to do whatever they want whenever they want to. A friend and I were talking not that long ago about people we know who just seem to have a knack for making money. It’s as if they just walk out the front door in the morning and trip over piles of cash, and, for the most part, these are not greedy or unscrupulous people. Money is just drawn to them for some reason. I, on the other hand, seem to have a natural ability to repel money in all its forms.

Whether its being a master negotiator or a hyper-successful salesman or a captivating public speaker, there are just some folks who – like LeBron – can just flat-out take it whenever they want. In LeBron’s case, there are certain personality traits which could cause you not to be a fan, but – like the money-making people I mentioned in the last paragraph – in many instances these are highly likable, well-adjusted, normal people. Their only flaw, if one can be found, is that they don’t always seem to want to take what they could so naturally have.

This is baffling for guys like me, who at 38 years of age has yet to figure out if I possess any natural abilities whatsoever. “If I could promote myself like that dude, I’d be living the high life!” I’m yelling at my television because I can’t figure out why if LeBron could dunk every time down the floor, why doesn’t he just do it? In the same vein, I can’t figure out why the guy who’s so good at sales spends his day on an assembly line somewhere or why the brainiac with a Ph.D. would rather spend his time driving a forklift or why the woman who is so naturally pretty seems to go to such great lengths to be un-pretty.

In a word, I’m jealous. I’m jealous because I haven’t discovered any trait or talent yet that I can just turn on whenever I want. What I’m starting to realize, though, is that jealousy is definitely a step above dislike or even hate toward an individual. NBA fans can be just plain venomous toward LeBron. In much the same way, I can run a guy down behind his back because I feel like he’s not utilizing his God-given abilities. Maybe he has his reasons. Maybe LeBron just likes shooting jump shots.

Whatever the case, I believe jealousy could actually be the first stepping stone toward appreciation. Instead of hating on someone because they have a natural ability I don’t, I could stand back and show my appreciation for the things they can do. I used to think Michael Jordan shot the ball too much … until I realized there were only a handful of guys on the planet who could even free themselves up to take half that many shots. Those people who make all the money? Well, I guess I should say I appreciate the way they provide for their families. Then again, this post is titled “Jealousy,” after all…

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