On January 12, 2013, LeBron James closed his loop. No, it doesn’t mean his future self was sent back in time to be killed by his younger self and Emily Blunt was involved, but he did say goodbye to a chapter of his life this past Saturday. When he stole the ball during the opening seconds of their game against the Sacramento Kings, James rushed down the court like a running back that sees daylight and rose up for a slam. If you’ve seen a LeBron highlight reel, you’ve seen this dunk before. He winds up the ball like a pitcher that’s about to hurl some heat and throw it down with a ferocity that is normally reserved for a big man. The reality is it’s not unlike any other slam he had ever done before.
But what makes this dunk special is how much it replicates his first dunk in the NBA stage, which coincidentally took place in Sacramento. Same angle, same motion, more power, but with just a little less vertical. And if the dunk was not enough of a mind melt, the moment was captured masterfully by NBA veteran photographer Rocky Widner, who was also there in the same spot for James’ first dunk in 2003. And also featured in that frozen moment is the Nike Zoom Generation, the sneaker that would start LeBron on his journey*.
Since that dunk in 2003, LeBron James has been beloved and hated. He’s been a clown and a villain. He’s been an open book and an enigma. As the great Bernie Mac once said, he was blessed with great court vision, but that doesn’t mean he always made great “Decisions.” He entered the Chamber of Fear and didn’t always come out better for it. He has multiple personalities, but we didn’t always have the full picture. And he’s fallen short on the biggest stage, but that just made his redemption all the more sweeter.
The leader of the Zoom Generation now has some measure of closure. They can never take the ring away from him, just like they can never take his legacy of kicks away from us. Congratulations on ten years, LeBron. Just be careful where you hide your silver.*I know the “1st Game” wasn’t the pair he actually wore to his first game, but hey, it’s the one with a date on it.