Basketball / Sports

Commentary: LeBron James shows maturity in GQ magazine cover story

Akron native LeBron James graces the March cover of GQ and might add a little controversy to one that simmers in Cleveland, but likely will be greeted with a shrug in Akron. It hits newsstands Feb. 25 or it's available online now.

In the article written by Jeanne Marie Laskas, James talks about fame, his hometown, change and The Decision, now calling it the best thing that ever happened to him.

In the 2010 television special pimped by ESPN, James took his talents to South Beach. The program remains dubious at best, but James views it through a different lens -- one that only the stance of time can provide after four years.

"The best thing that ever happened to me," he said in GQ. "I needed it. It helped me grow as a man. As a professional, as a father. At the time, as a boyfriend. It helped me grow. Being confined, I spent my whole life in Akron, Ohio. For 25 years. Even though I played professionally in Cleveland, I still lived in Akron. Everything was comfortable. I knew everything, everybody knew me -- everything was comfortable. I needed to become uncomfortable."

Those words might still cause a stir, but those who are honest with themselves would agree that an essential element of life is growing as a person. Most people expect it for themselves, but might be less generous when it comes to others. Heaven forbid that someone placed on a pedestal by a city or a region would make a choice unpopular in his home base -- especially LeBron James, who will go down as one of the NBA's all-time greats.

The burning jersey. The vitriol spilling from sports radio stations. Some of that bile can still be heard as Cavs fans dream of James bringing his talents back north, courtesy of a clause that allows him to opt out of his contract with the Miami Heat after this season.

But reading between the lines, James' goals might not be conducive to such a move. His maturity reveals itself as he thinks about the big picture rather than just the NBA.

He wants to act and is working on Ballers, a film with the white-hot actor and comedian Kevin Hart; James and his close friend and business partner Maverick Carter also signed a deal with pay-TV channel Starz.

Survivor's Remorse "is set in the world of professional basketball and explores the comedy and drama of an experience that everyone reads about, but few understand -- what truly happens when you make it out," according to a news release from the network. Starz recently gave the show the green light for a six-episode season that will air in the fall.

The show sounds more than a bit autobiographical and its themes align with James' words in GQ, showing a man who is more introspective and less brash as many said he and his entourage of advisers were when it came handling The Decision.

Now in his 10th year in the NBA, James is firmly in control of his situation and his future. What remains clear is Akron will always be part of both.

(c)2014 Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)

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