SOUL X SPORT: LeBron James and The Hero's Journey
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I casually love LeBron James. I used to casually hate him, but then watching great basketball became more important to me than pettiness and I just wanted to see him win and be the best (but still lose to my Portland Trail Blazers).
Beyond his maturity, growth and post-Celtics vindication, the man is now a hero. I’m not sure if I read he is, or if I thought he is, but once/if he actually brings that championship to Cleveland, he’ll have come out spotless against the most stringent competition. It’s an amazing journey for him, and one of potentially legendary proportions.
James, in his pursuit of the basketball elixir, has followed the same path as Gilgamesh, Buddha, Harry Potter, Luke Skywalker and countless others. This path is the sacred circle Joseph Campbell breaks down in his seminal work, The Hero with a Thousand Faces. I won’t address the other touchpoints of LeBron’s heroic and mythic pedigree — born of a single mother, a distant/unknown father, and rumored to be the son of a king (the true successor to MJ’s throne of basketball majesty) — but the coincidences are too real to be considered anything other than prophesy.
Campbell’s treatise describes a pattern heroes from literature, film, history, and folklore follow in their effort to deliver or rescue their people from whatever assails them. In his own words, Campbell describes the cycle as:
“a hero ventures forth from the world of the common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”
-Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces
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We all know what happened after this was written. LeBron fulfilled his destiny by bringing the Larry O'Brien elixir back to Cleveland. Only now, The Land is threatened by The Golden State Super Batalion, with all the resources in the land. LeBron must now close the loop by joining forces with his original rivals, The San Antonio Spurs Black Army ;) .
But for real though. It would make toooo much sense. At least Joseph Campbell would agree with me.