Fri | Aug 17, 2018

Tanya Lee | Pat yourself on the back, King James!

Published:Friday | January 26, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James

Last week, I stood before a room full of sixth-formers in a mentorship session, stressing the importance of setting goals and crushing them.

I suggested they set small as well as massive goals that may at first seem impossible. I also wanted them to not be critical of themselves once those goals were achieved, but rather to be celebratory; pat themselves on the back, if you will.

It was vital for me to share this because my experience already tells me what lies ahead of them. For every goal they accomplish, they will have a healthy mix of those who celebrate and those who will throw cold water on their achievements. It is, thus, crucial for them to have a healthy self-image and learn to celebrate themselves.

Goal-oriented persons are so driven to succeed at times that they sometimes fail to celebrate each achievement, moving on quickly to accomplishing the next.

This brings me to a real-life observation of this in the world of sport this week.

This week, LeBron James created history by becoming the youngest player in NBA history to score 30,000 points and the only player in the history of the game to reach a milestone of 7,000 rebounds and 7,000 assists.

Not only does he now stand alone as the youngest player to ever accomplish this feat, but James may eventually surpass everyone in points to reach further uncharted territory in the NBA record books.

Already, LeBron has achieved many milestones in his career that he should be proud of: three championships, three finals MVP titles, and four regular-season MVP nods over 15 seasons.

LeBron's combined career average in the fundamental areas of the game is surpassed only by the greatest to ever walk on a basketball court, His Airness, Michael Jordan.

But LeBron also did something this week that seemed utterly radical to some naysayers! He didn't self-deprecate like they would like him to. He didn't ignore his achievement, as they would prefer. And he didn't become superficially modest as though he was unaware of the magnitude of the moment. LeBron, instead, acknowledged and celebrated it.




LeBron posted a photo on Instagram of his teenage self and congratulated the young LeBron on reaching this milestone. He wrote to his younger self, "Wanna be one of the first to congratulate you on this accomplishment tonight ... when you finally get a moment to yourself, smile, look up at the higher skies and say thank you! Congrats young King, one love!"

For some, this was the height of conceit, as his timeline flooded with disparaging remarks.

"What a tool," wrote one follower.

"I hate you," wrote another.

These were responses to an athlete's cele-bration of his hard work.

It reminds me of a famous quote: "In a society that profits from your self-doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act."

I think LeBron was right to congratulate his younger self. He is, in every sense, a great ambassador of his sport, a good role model for society, and a solid example of how one can excel despite the circumstances.

A look at LeBron's childhood suggests he could have had a different future. He was the son of a 16-year-old teen mom; his father vanished after she announced her pregnancy. His mom, Gloria, lost her mother at just 19, when LeBron was three years old. At five years old, the state demolished their home, and they became homeless. For the next four years, LeBron would move over 12 times, from home to home, school to school, and have no stability.

In his autobiography, he speaks about missing more than 100 days of school in one year. The weight became too much for his mom, who placed him in foster care at nine years old. It was his new family that enrolled him in basketball, where he began to excel.

LeBron embodies his motto, 'Strive for greatness'. He had humble beginnings and earned everything he achieved in basketball through hard work, dedication, perseverance, and practice.

He should deservingly pat himself on the back, and so should every individual who gets up daily, and despite the obstacles, strives for greatness in their endeavours, whether privately or publicly.

Let's all be inspired to raise our standards, write our scripts, become our best selves, and celebrate our achievements. Pat yourself on the back, King James!

- Tanya Lee is a Caribbean sports marketer, author and publicist. Follow her @tanyattlee on Instagram.