LeBron James has officially entered the “senior citizen” stage of his career where he just doesn’t care what anyone says or thinks of his actions. Channeling his inner Michael Jordan, James was seen strolling into Staples Center Tuesday night to face the Phoenix Suns, cigar in hand. The NBA on TNT crew (mainly Kenny Smith & Shaquille O’Neal) were not big fans of this move by LeBron.
“That’s a cigar, bro,” Smith said. “That guy is walking into the arena with a cigar. Yo, that’s disrespectful. If we lose that game and a dude came in with a cigar… I ain’t a fighter, but I’d fight everybody in the locker room.”
Obviously, the old heads took this as a sign of disrespect toward one of James’ best friends, Chris Paul, and the rest of the Suns. Smith, who is a two-time NBA champion with the Houston Rockets, even went so far as to say he’d throw down over it.
I honestly don’t think James did this to play head games or disrespect Phoenix in any way. LeBron doesn’t give a damn anymore what you, me, Kenny, or Shaq have to say. He’ll do what he does, and we all just need to live with it. James reached that point a while ago, but now he’s really embracing it and saying world be damned. A couple of years ago, LeBron showed up to a game with a glass of wine in hand. Now that was likely meant as disrespect since it was against the Clippers.
James knows he’s only competing against two people at this point in his career: he’s trying to top himself, and he’s trying to top that guy with the most popular basketball shoe who won six rings in Chicago. That’s it. Even if you don’t think he’s the best player in the association today, no other current player is on his level in the all-time ranks. James is the only active player in the conversation for greatest of all time. Whether you think it’s James, Michael Jordan, or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, No. 6 for the Lakers is in that conversation. Most sane NBA fans (or anyone over 30) have this trio in their top three all-time.
LeBron’s next act should be walking into the arena carrying a wine & cheese basket. Hopefully, he’ll bring it out to the court and pass out glasses on the sideline so the Lakers can have a glass right before tip-off. Talk about disrespect. That would be a moment for the ages.