James/Jordan Mashup
November 29, 2010 6:33 PM   Subscribe

I don't follow sports and want to understand why this Lebron James and Michael Jordan mashup makes sense. I know who MJ is but don't know James from Adam.
posted by ArcAm to Society & Culture (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
In the thread on the blue, I posted a few paragraph synopsis of who/what/why LeBron James is. A couple people favorited it, so I assumed it was helpful.

What other information do you want to know that isn't readily google-able?
posted by King Bee at 6:46 PM on November 29, 2010

LeBron James was labeled the heir apparent to Jordan when he came into the NBA out of high school. (James has a lot of talent but has yet to accomplish anything significant in the playoffs. Paralleling Kobe Bryant to Jordan makes a lot more sense, but there were a few years where the media narrative was against Bryant, so James was used to fill the void, despite not having ever been to the Finals).

Then this past winter, James left his hometown team, Cleveland, to join a "superteam" In Miami with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. He had a tv special on espn to declare he was "taking his talents to South Beach." It was handled poorly and annoyed a lot of people.

The James part of that mash-up is a recent Nike ad that is supposed to rehabilitate his image, I guess. I'm not actually sure what the point of this mash-up is- normally James would be contrasted unfavorably to Jordan, but in this case the maker is maybe trying to say the two faced similar challenges or have similar approaches to the game? (It's confusing because the most common criticism of James is that his approach to the game is lackadaisical.)
posted by drjimmy11 at 6:57 PM on November 29, 2010

LeBron James is the best player in basketball and grew up watching MJ. If he does not match or at least come close to matching MJ's successes, James will be seen as a disappointment.

This summer LeBron decided to leave Cleveland (the team that drafted him and his home state's team) and join a couple other superstar free-agents in Miami. He and his management team let "the Decision" become a spectacle and many people thought it tarnished his reputation.

That's a bit of the background. My interpretation of this mashup is that the creator believes that James is prematurely obsessed with his legacy whereas his predecessor, MJ, was obsessed only with winning.

Personally, I think the James is a somewhat normal dude with unreal talent and physical gifts. He's not really living in the present--he knows that he should be hyper-focused on winning, but all this stuff about reputation and legacy are hard to ignore. People criticize him for this...but I think it's hard to blame him. Jordan is insane--by that I mean the intensity and underlying anger of his competitiveness seems like a mental problem. Tiger Woods has the same sickness. James, by comparison, lacks intensity. So while the comparison of James' talent with MJ's talent is accurate and fair, it seems completely unfair and even perverted to try to compare James' drive with MJ's.

So, in my opinion, this mashup is James asking "What should I do?" and MJ answering "you should be a crazy person like me."
posted by mullacc at 7:03 PM on November 29, 2010 [3 favorites]

James is supposed to be (or was supposed to be) the next Jordan (or one of the next Jordans). The idea of the mashup is that James' Nike ad features James complaining, and Jordan's Nike ad is presented as a rebuttal to James, calling James out for complaining.
posted by The World Famous at 7:05 PM on November 29, 2010

LeBron is Sonny Corleone -- flash and brash. Jordan is Michael Corleone, the stone-cold killer.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:45 PM on November 29, 2010 [6 favorites]

Yeah. LeBron chose to go into a situation where he didn't need to be the absolute man. He hasn't shown the sort of psychopathic drive and desire that MJ had which separated Jordan from his peers. The narrative is that LeBron actually is a nice guy if a bit of a narcissist. MJ is a known sociopath who famously destroyed the egos and souls of some of his teammates he deemed unworthy. But this is also why he is the GOAT.

The subtext of the mashup is that MJ would have stayed in Cleveland and won through sheer personal force rather then taking the easy way out.

(I think most of cleveland would say he's Fredo to DWade's Mo Green)
posted by JPD at 7:59 PM on November 29, 2010

LBJ and Jordan are often compared, so the mash-up is supposed to convey that LeBron falls short in that he can't carry through and do the hard work like Jordan did: that he wants instant fame/success and doesn't know the meaning of the hard work required to get there.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 9:42 PM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Thanks all! This was really interesting.

I'm now tempted to read a biography of Jordan to learn about what level of craziness it took for him to be so amazing on the court.
posted by ArcAm at 9:53 PM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

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