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Coach Leo Tolstoy on LeBron James. via

It’s not pink eye, it’s writer’s eye, and LeBron James lives it everyday.

There’s a story about Mark Twain cussing so much that his wife finally took it up. She cussed and cussed to show him what it sounded like, trying to shame him into cleaning up his mouth.

Apparently it didn’t work, and he said, “My dear, you know the words, but not the music.”

Lyrical profanity? Sounds like a band name.

Mark Twain came up last night at the Older Church’s Willamette Writer’s meeting.

The question came during a discussion, presentation, a talk by Natalie Serber about the Primary Eye and Secondary Eye of essay and memoir writing.

The primary eye is the story action, the secondary eye the emotions associated with the action.

Which naturally leads to LeBron James and his journey to Game 3 of the NBA Finals tonight in Cleveland.

By now every sports fan knows the James journey. The question is, does he know the deeper meaning. There’s always a deeper meaning if you’re willing to look.

People like to think they know LeBron better than he knows himself. They know what he needs to do to become immortal like Michael Jordan, like the championship run of the Celtics, like Joe Montana.

Heads up to fans: LeBron knows what he’s all about better than you. Win or lose, he goes down as an all-time great. You get that when you’ve been to the finals six years in a row. That’s a lot of ball played, a lot of extra games, extra mileage.

Take another look at the image on top. It’s Leo Tolstoy, writer, and LeBron fan if he were alive today.

LeBron’s professional career has been a work of art from the beginning. At his best he’s not a basketball player, but an artist destroying the wall between fans and sports. We all want to be LeBron. It’s more than a Cleveland thing. And we want LeBron to be more. Phil Jackson wants him to be more.

What more can he be? From

“I mean, I think for me to go out and be who I am and play as true to the game and as hard as I can and try to lead this team, that’s who I am. Not anybody else. I’m not Michael. I’m not Ali. I’m not nobody else that’s done so many great things for sport. I am who I am, and if I’m able to go out and put together a game like that, it wasn’t because I was possessed. It’s because I worked on my craft all season long and that’s the result of it. Phil’s a great coach. Mike’s a great player. But I am who I am.”

His impact in Cleveland and Ohio are greater than any championship. He’s delivered hope, something in short supply.

Future academics will read about LeBron James and wonder how such a man could do what he’s done. And he’s not finished.

Writers will see him through the Primary Eye, track his moves from high school, to the Cavs, the Heat, and back. With their Secondary Eye they will fill in the backstory.

From all appearances he is who we think he is. The life he leads doesn’t include the sort of shadows seen in other celebrity athletes. From wiki:

James has taken stances on controversial issues throughout his career, mentioning on several occasions a feeling of obligation to effect change using his status. Those include the War in Darfur, the Trayvon Martin case, NBA owner Donald Sterling’s racist comments in 2014, the Michael Brown verdict, and death of Eric Garner. In June 2008, James donated $20,000 to a committee to elect Barack Obama. Later that year, James gathered almost 20,000 people at the Quicken Loans Arena for a viewing of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama’s 30-minute American Stories, American Solutions television advertisement. It was shown on a large screen above the stage, where Jay-Z later held a free concert.

Cheering for a Cleveland Cavalier win this year is cheering for a chance to hear LeBron address the nation as the artist Tolstoy admires. This is his War and Peace game. I’ll bet he says more than the standard victory speech.

Who wants to hear it? Leave comments.

About David Gillaspie
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