I love LeBron James. I love the way he plays basketball. He is freakishly athletic–he’s a 6-foot-8, 260-pound freight train that bulldozes his way up and down the floor, while having the court vision and passing skills that are unheard of for a player his size. Then, of course, is his otherworldly leaping ability. I remember watching LeBron in a regular season game in 2008 and being dumbfounded. James went up and caught what was supposed to be an “alley-oop”, but was thrown far too high. When LeBron caught it, he was eye level with the rim. With his size and athleticism, James could easily score 30 points every night, but he doesn’t. More often than not, he’ll lead his team in assists.

LeBron has been examined under a microscope ever since he was a teenager. Here are a few claims of LeBron critics to refresh our memory: he’s “too unselfish.” He’s not clutch, meaning that when push comes to shove, LeBron will choke under pressure. On the heels of that claim is the familiar critique: LeBron lacks competitiveness, which is particularly pertinent in the shadow of/comparisons with Michael Jordan, the Ultimate Competitor. And then there’s the (well-deserved) critique against “the decision.” If you’re an NBA fan, or an Mbird sports reader, you’re familiar with these critiques by which LeBron has been effected.

Some of these critiques are accurate, while others aren’t. One think that has always drawn me to LeBron James is that I’ve seen no other professional athlete live under more constant scrutiny, and it has taken its toll on him. In an interview with ESPN after his first season in Miami (in which they lost in the finals to the Dallas Mavericks) LeBron, got honest and alluded to the ways in which these critiques effected his psyche on and off the floor:

With any athlete, artist, or friend for which one has admiration, there’s a sense in which you root for them. When the Avett Brothers released their last album in October, I wanted it to break records in sales. A big part of being a fan or friend is wanting what’s best for them, or at least what you perceive to be the best. For LeBron James, I want him to win 20 NBA titles, of course (!). But more than that–in light of the numerous laws under which he lives–I really want him to chill out, take a deep breath and relax. I want him to experience freedom from the nagging. Perhaps I want him to have relief because I want it too.

As a huge fan, I have a lot of favorite LeBron memories thus far in his career. His impeccable dunks; the dazzling no-look passes; the pre-game chalk routine and him wearing number 23; the gold medals and championships, etc., etc.. However, I do have to say that my favorite LeBron James moment thus far, is in a post-game interview after he won his second title this past June. Here you go:

I’m just a kid from Akron, Ohio. I’m not even supposed to be here.

No more nagging and scorekeeping–that’s my favorite LeBron James moment, hands down.