A native of Akron, Ohio James is searching for his fourth NBA Finals ring. James won his first two as a member of the Big 3 era of the Miami Heat which also featured Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
On a recent episode of the Scoop B Radio Podcast, I checked in with esteemd basketball historian, Roland Lazenby who discussed LeBron James place in NBA history and more.
Check out a snippet of our Q&A below:
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: What do you like about LeBron James’ impact in the NBA at this point in his career?
Roland Lazenby: LeBron has been a major, major, major godsend for American professional basketball as a player obviously, really as THE MAN. As the person he’s a standup guy and he’s done this by incorporating high school teammates, he’s really formed a power base, and he’s claiming power in an unprecedented fashion. And I really like to write about black power not the black power of protest but, the black power of through things like the NBA and different areas because it’s a big cultural thing and I think LeBron is – I can’t imagine anybody else leading that better. People all over the planet love him, he’s a great salesman for shoes, phones or whatever but he’s not that deep, charismatic figure like Jordan. I mean Jordan was like – Sonny Vaccaro would call it the ‘IT’ factor. Kobe had it too, but Kobe – when Kobe came in he was still a punk and I don’t mean it in a derogatively but he was just 18. Kobe likes to use the phrase: ‘grown ass man’. Well he wasn’t a grown ass man when he came in. And so he required between that and the misunderstanding that how he got there. He acquired a lot of disrespect. That probably ended up being the fuel for him, but he’s gotta get it from somewhere…but I will tell you, LeBron has – his legacy will be just not a great competitor but as a great, great ambassador – you know I went to Virginia Military Institute and the whole concept there is the: Citizen Soldier. They’re a bunch of career Army guys, military guys that come out, but there’s not a lot of guys that do their three or four years and go on to civilian life. We call them Citizen Soldiers. Well I would say that LeBron is a 1st Grade Citizen Athlete. He’s not running around like he’s Mr. Goody Two Shoes, he’s got a lot of edge to him. He doesn’t put up with a lot of crap culturally, he’s got the appropriate edge, for someone to finish school in this culture – for someone who had none of that, the big thing in LeBron’s life was to get to move into public housing at 12 years old. He had a place that now he was close to his mother. That was a big thing. One of the complaints was that he was so coddled he really never had to fight – but I guess you could say that about everybody. If you want to make sweeping statements about a generation, you might try to say that about his generation. It’s bs. He’s had to fight plenty. He just knows how to win. Those types. You know what I’m sayin?
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: Some might argue Allen Iverson didn’t have that finish.
Roland Lazenby: Allen Iverson don’t get me wrong, Allen Iverson – he got sent to prison on a first…I used to be a police and court reporter. Nobody goes to prison on a first offense. But African-Americans usually go to prison on the first offense all the damn time but he was in the modern age of – he got sent to prison on the first offense… he was the High School Football Player of the Year in Virginia and he was the High School Basketball Player of the Year and they sent him to prison over a bowling alley fight, but he ended up with the benefit of Georgetown and John Thompson. I just have to make this distinction: Allen Iverson is a good person. A HELLUVA
PLAYER and he is the – he’s had to come through some things but everybody has to kill their
own snakes but I don’t want this to be a negative statement about Allen Iverson because that guy has been as kind and considerate and dealing with me when he was young (a rookie), all the way on through. We’re not great buddies or anything, I was just a guy interviewing him and observed his life by talking to him. But I’ll tell you he has victory over his issues and he grew into a great guy. LeBron – it’s no knock against anybody in the League. LeBron is highly unusual. In that,
he’s a person capable of doing what he’s done. I think at the top of the show I said I don’t run
anybody and I haven’t in my thirty-something years that I have done this who’s not a remarkable
human being in a whole lot of ways. You can’t negotiate the odders if you’re not. So many of
them and I am highly appreciative of that, but LeBron is a different level human being. As soon
as you say that he might say, I’ve done enough dumb crap in my life but you can’t put a caviar
on everything but LeBron has really been the mayor. He’s been the whole thing and that’s a big,
big job. A tall order.