What does LeBron James’ first ring signify? Part 2
Previously, I shared some of my thoughts on LeBron James, mythology and archetypal psychology. Let’s continue from where we left off. This is the second instalment of a three-article series.
About James’ recovering popularity
I genuinely believe that LeBron James is the greatest basketball player of his generation. That has been obvious the last couple of years. Even though he had shortcomings, such as his lack of clutch play, he was largely regarded as the top dog for a while. But, despite the popular belief that he is the best, he was the punching bag of basketball writers. Until… He won his first championship after having played great throughout the entire playoffs. Then, all of a sudden, people started jumping on James’ bandwagon. Same people who consider James as a failure months ago, started comparing him to Michael Jordan. But, how such a radical and quick turn of opinion did happen? Why were sports writers so harsh against him anyway? And why are they on his bandwagon now? All the answers lie in the archetype of American culture…
Clotaire Rapaille calls the American culture “adolescent” and states that the American archetype is a mixture of a warrior and an explorer. Let’s start with the warrior. A warrior’s task is obviously to win, which explains why winning is such an important goal for Americans. The US culture is highly achievement based. The American Dream is practically someone starting from the bottom, fighting his/her entire life, never giving up, thinking everything is possible, and finally climbing all the way to the top. So, that is the warrior part of the archetype. But, there is an adolescent part there to, which is a forever teenager (explorer), who cannot necessarily grasp the mature nature of the warrior archetype. According to Caroline Myss, a warrior’s highest order is NOT to pull out his sword, NOT to engage in combat, NOT to fight, whereas his lowest order is to win at all cost, do whatever necessary to win, not worrying about the consequences. Unfortunately, the mainstream US basketball media fall into the second category. For them, the most important thing is the number of rings you have. If you have none, you are a failure. If you have won, you are great. That is exactly why all those writers jumped ship. They are under the control of the lower nature of the warrior archetype.
About James and Jordan
I think James well deserved his first ring. Obviously, more to come. I predict him winning at least 3 more times. He can even win more than 6… Which would ascend him to the Jordan territory… But, here is what I think: I believe even if he gets his 7th ring, James will never be considered as good as Jordan (Although I don’t think originally LeBron needed to win 7 times to be perceived better than Jordan.) I am claiming this by looking at their respective storylines, not their skill sets or accomplishments. I actually believe James is more talented than Jordan and that he will eventually accomplish more than Jordan did. But, as I said earlier, whoever has a better story always win… And James’ story got a major hit when he left Cleveland…
A hero rises to the occasion, beats the odds and achieves success. The key question is “why” the hero embarks on a journey? What is the point? What is the hero expected to achieve? Here is the answer: The hero should complete the journey not for himself. Nobody’s interested in the journey of a self-serving man. That would not be a myth worth sharing. The journey should be about a higher goal. Your story will become legendary, only if you fight for something that is much bigger than yourself. Steve Jobs dedicated his entire life to challenging status quo and to enhancing and beautifying the lives of everyday people. Michael Jordan literally saved the NBA from Detroit Pistons and their much-disliked Bad Boy style. He also changed the destiny of the city of Chicago, which used to be known for its gangsters and criminals. Now, the image of Chicago is much different. LeBron had a perfect storyline: To save Cleveland, to break the curse! Had he won in Cleveland, he’d be perceived as someone who beat supernatural forces, which would make him literally, a God! If we look at the storyline, that one ring would have been the most valuable ring of all times. But, he misread the situation. He went for quantity instead of quality and joined forces with other top competitors. So, he acted selfishly. That’s why his story, even if he wins 7 rings, will not be complete and will never be better than that of Jordan’s.
Our next article will compare James’ storyline to that of Kobe’s and analyze why people love to hate James.
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Posted on October 9, 2012, in Brand & Communication Strategy, Brand Identity, Depth Psychology, Sports Marketing and tagged archetype, joseph campbell, LeBron James, Michael Jordan, mythology, story telling. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.