Throughout the regular season, Dime will take a longer than 280 characters look at a few key notes and stats during some of the league’s most important matchups. Next up: The Lakers overtime loss to the Spurs.
LOS ANGELES – It was almost four minutes into the second quarter before LeBron James had his first basket against the Spurs on Monday night. While he still affected the game in other ways as he always does — namely through finesse and passing — on this night, with two starters suspended following a spit-filled fight against the Rockets in their home opener, James was fighting instead to try to keep the Lakers from going 0-3.
Fans and members of the press seemed surprised at the slow start. For all the excitement surrounding LeBron’s move west, there was still an aura of mystery. Admittedly many Lakers fans weren’t paying super close attention to those 4 p.m. local start games that James was playing in during the regular season before Christmas over the past few years, the ones that led to a slow start in Miami in Year 1, or trades and a coaching change and all sorts of drama in his second go-round in Cleveland. Instead, they were exposed to the Legend of LeBron, carefully cultivated through short videos, tweets about the Flying Death Machine, and the full power of the Nike branding arsenal.
“When the legend becomes fact,” reporter Maxwell Scott (Carleton Young) says in John Ford’s 1962 film The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, “print the legend.”
What matters not are the slow early quarter performances, the cold shooting nights, or even the lack of intensity on defense. Instead, LeBron has increasingly become known for his signature moments, the ones you can see a dozen times as you sleeplessly scroll through Instagram at 2 a.m., entranced, seeing over and over again as if set adrift in a ocean and met with a starless sky. How he came to that moment is inconsequential; the moment was present, it was distilled down, and this is what he was known as.
In a lot of ways, James embodies what it means to be millennial when the sneering vitriol of the word is scrubbed clean. He’s self-made, has complete control over his public narrative, has a successful second career through his various business ventures, and can show us exactly what he wants to show us publicly on social media without the danger of being sucked into the depression that comes from that endless feed.