Written By Drew Ricketts
Do I have to start this by saying I’m a big fan of LeBron James, who is, in my view, the greatest to ever lace-up sneakers?
Yes, I must start this by acknowledging that LeBron James, Akron native, is a god among men. His name now brings the best baggage along with it, like how many times he’s been an All-Star, how many NBA first teams he’s made, and the MVPs. Those labels hook onto him and drag around like Jesus piece chains and Kanye minks.
The trouble with being a LeBron diehard (maybe apologist) is that throughout his astounding career, he reveals himself as endearingly vulnerable and, as what many perceive, a whiny tyrant. He’s been seen as patronizing, enabling his buddies to usurp the Cleveland regime, and deferential, asking Dwyane Wade to lend him championship training wheels.
When Bill Simmons sort of insinuated in his recent podcast (still up for streaming here) that LeBron and the NBA are mixed up in a potential performance-enhancing substance scandal, some of it rang true. In fact, I have believed this theory of cobbled-together circumstantial observations that points to some mysterious anomalies in his performance.
Simmons met fan backlash when he floated the idea that LeBron wasn’t the “same player” early in the 2015 season. He responded as such:
“Like it was our fault that LeBron was playing below the rim for the first two months and the Cavs were a complete mess. I’m sorry for pointing that out everybody!”
After NBA beat writer Zach Lowe struggled to politely categorize LeBron’s two-week refresher vacation to Miami in January, Simmons pushed his stance once again:
Bill Simmons: Uh…I have a couple titles for that but I’m not gonna say.
Zach Lowe: I’m not going anywhere near where you’re going.
Bill Simmons: I’m not going anywhere either!
He later elaborated, saying:
“LeBron James…looked like he was entering another phase of his career. He’s got a lot of miles on him. Looked different in how he was playing. Went away for two weeks, came back. He’s been lights out. [He] basically has been at 29 [points] a game, 6 [assists] and 6 [rebounds]. Fifty percent shooting. He looks like LeBron again.”
Looks like LeBron again? What did he look like before? He went on to press Lowe with a series of hypotheticals (an old trick), wanting him to confirm some of the drop-off in the King’s level of play.
The alleged/obscured/implicated PED use in the Association is no hidden mystery, but only in the last two years has that gray cloud and its billowing smoke centered on the one-time Heatle. Bill Simmons, among others, has left breadcrumbs to the conspiracy musings since 2013, the tail end of a scorching run by Miami that culminated in two rings. This allusion to LeBron’s two-week recovery vacation in Florida is only one fact in a series of questionable events.
Hypothetically speaking, here are some corresponding dates and events to consider from that shady world of sports speculation: