Christmas Carols Are Wrong, But Don't Be Alarmed...

A Super Hero defined as a benevolent fictional character with superhuman powers. The wording seems all to perfect, but I have a question about the last few words. Are super Heroes really "fictional"? I beg to differ.

At this time of year, the world is adjusting to another Level of the Marvel Empire called “The Avengers.” If you are not familiar with the premise of “The Avengers” it is about a super hero conglomerate coming together to form a team all in the hope of achieving one common goal. All the while at the same time The NBA Playoffs are nearing a climactic end. With the final four teams battling it out in the conference finals to get to the NBA Finals- every social Network offers game commentary, social commentary and a somewhat comedic view at each play.

While all of this is everyday banter and a constant, I wonder how the world became so engulfed in something they obviously cannot control. How did fans develop such a deep devotion to players that they do not know? How it that based off that devotion, fans is are willing to slander another player despite their eyes telling them something different?

An example of this is with Lebron James and Dwyane Wade. Both of these players are great individually. They came together along with Chris Bosh to form a “Super Team.” Or at least that’s the perception of it from the outside.
The first questions that arose as soon as this Faction was put together were: Who is Batman, and who is Robin? Who will be the “Alpha Dog” of the team? It was assumed that Dwyane Wade would remain as the Alpha because of his long standing relationship with the franchise and he is a champion, winning in 2006. A perennial all-star in his own right, the consistency he showed throughout his career, got him the nickname Flash, as in Flash Gordon.

Lebron James on the other hand spent seven years in Cleveland, dominating the league, regular season and Post season statistically. Performance wise Lebron “King” James not only can score, but he affects the game through his passing, rebounding and defense. All of these assets helped James build a reputation as the best player in the Association, getting to two conference Championships and a Finals appearance in 2007. But, he could not win with that supporting cast, so he, Wade and Bosh came together like “The Avengers” and are edging towards a championship as we speak.

These players all in the prime of their careers teaming up conjured up many responses, and questions from fans, and analyst regarding the integrity of the game. Where did this come from? How could so much passion for the game bring into question Lebron James’ skill set, basketball IQ and overall passion of the game that made him a household name? I have an idea.

On March 12, 1997 I was a six year old in the first grade, with not a care in the world outside of Power Rangers, Sneakers and Snickers. For Allen Iverson and Michael Jordan, one was a 21 rookie battling for the changing of the guard, while the other was THE 33 year old face of the NBA who represented more than just himself and a franchise, but a brand, a message and overall example for future generations. On that faithful day in the third quarter of a Philadelphia 76er home Game against the defending NBA champions, Allen Iverson and Michael Jordan changed my life forever.

Isolations in basketball are called for premiere offensive players to go one on one against their defenders. For the defender, they are on an island alone forced to use their wits and ability to stop often times the team’s best player.

In Michael Jordan’s Case he was known as the best perimeter defender in the Association, with accolades that included a Defensive Player of The Year in 1988 and seven All-NBA Defensive first teams (up until 96) and a tremendous Reputation. For Allen Iverson, he was a rookie with an edge, a renegade of sorts who also represented more than just his family and his franchise.

A new era was coming and the NBA, with a new batch of fans, and an expanded view of the game that would go on to hit another stratosphere. On Allen Iverson’s Isolation he took the game to another stratosphere.

With a double cross over on whom many would regard as the greatest player of all-time Iverson took his game to the next level. Despite a 37-point performance in a four point defeat to the eventual NBA champions He etched his name in stone and made himself a staple on my historical radar.

From that day on birthed a monster that not only can tell you stat lines, but memorize moments down to the T. This didn’t come overnight though it took years of measuring my mental aptitude against encyclopedias, almanacs and NBA Home Videos.

Studying Modern Day Super Heroes

You may be reading this and say “He’s being extreme”. But I tell you in all honesty this all comes from a real place.

As we go back to the original statement/ definition of this piece pay attention to the word: “benevolent characters with superhuman powers” Athletes in general tend to be benevolent with their purpose in their respective fields. They are entertaining fans while living out their dreams and chasing goals in the process. But how did they get superhuman powers?

Years of dedication, sacrifice, faith and Persistence propelled them into stardom from a young age. After High School certain athletes are routinely conditioned to the rigors of their sport. In the case of basketball players there are AAU tournaments, training camps, traveling, expenses and time consumed by a game, a game that displays individual artistry while blending it into the ultimate team sport. That individual artistry is expressed through: crossover dribbles, dunks, precision shooting and stubborn defense. While individual attention is coveted to a degree the true measure of the game comes from team success, and that in turn brings on more of a possession feel.

How can “WE” win? There is no greater feeling than seeing your favorite team on the brink of success, knowing that you followed them through all adversities to the end of the earth and back. At the same time that same team can bring you through the most emotional mood swings we may ever see. This emotional Juggernaut comes from a variety of connections that people just would not understand unless they followed “OUR” team.

Years of ineptitude are not a deterrent for a true fan of the game. Years of near misses and debacles only foster more hope for the true fans. Once the time comes where the process comes to fruition it is almost as deep of an accomplishment for you as it is for your favorite player and team. Those things build within you sometimes as a positive or detriment depending on the person. Point being it comes from a real place.

All this admiration and adoration for your favorite players or teams comes from their ability to push themselves beyond perceived limits. All the time put into a dream that turned into a mission, and in the process going through trials that would make an average man give up- that is heroic in all senses of the word.

If we were to take a look at certain players, they identify themselves as Super Heroes themselves: Shaquille O’Neal has the Superman emblem tattooed on his arm; Dwight Howard some years later has taken on the Clark Kent alter ego and has been embroiled in tit for tat bickering over a character that was created in the 1930s. When we look deeper into it we can see that players in an arena of 20,000 screaming fans every night feed off of that love/hate. It’s a theme that is repeated era after era.

In the 60s the NBA was identified through their Mythical Titans: Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain. In the 70s Sky-walkers began to impose their will, representatives of the aerial pursuit began with Elgin Baylor, and then transitioned to Julius Irving Better Known as Dr. J. As the game grew, Perimeter players’ speed became priority.

Magic Johnson and Larry Bird were not just an extension of the NBA but they morphed into pop culture. The agenda changed in the Market and it only helped that the next Super Hero not only was the most competitive athlete of our generation, but he pushed an individual brand synonymous with excellence. This Gradation of rank continues to this day through our generation.All of these emotions are good for me to express, just a small representative of Billions of fans all around the world.

According to musician Andy Williams’ Christmas Carol “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” is around December, a time of giving, reflection and love. Although the holiday season is a beautiful time of year, these spring days elicit those emotions and so much more. The Jubilant and euphoric state of a fan during playoff time is only a fraction of the world’s obsession with the world of sports. It’s almost indescribable, but you get the point… I LOVE THIS GAME!!! Thank YOU

Written by Isaiah Rhodes


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