BSO- “When I was a kid and I used to see guys wear MJ’s shoes when they played against MJ I’m like, ‘Oh MJ got a little mental edge over those guys,'” LeBron says.
“If you just a guy that’s just like, you actually just go to Foot Locker or somewhere,” he continues, “you just get a pair of ‘Brons and you want to wear ’em on a Tuesday night vs. me? I’ma bust your ass. Straight up.”
If you want to say this is about LeBron making it all about himself you would probably be right. If you want to say that his belief that he has a mental edge over his opponents that are wearing his sneakers makes him petty then, again, you would probably be right. However, in the interest of full disclosure, if that makes him petty then I am JUST as petty. Should he be saying it out loud to a camera? Probably not, but this is LeBron we are talking about, and he's never had the greatest of filters for what is fit for public consumption and what's not. Regardless, how could you look at a man that is guarding you, and wearing your name on his shoes, and not feel like you have a distinct advantage over him?
I know that LeBron's are the hottest shoe in the game. I know most basketball players wear them because they look fresh, and not to honor LeBron James. However, athletes have to create narratives in their head to stay engaged throughout a long season. The same reason LeBron judges his opponent's shoes is same reason that bulletin board material exists. It gives him that extra motivation to dominate. If someone dresses like you, or talks like you, or acts like you it can be seen as a sign of respect. You respect a player too much and he can use it to his advantage. In this case, it may just be an illusion of respect, but when you are as talented as LeBron James, it matters just the same. Whether it's a manufactured, no pun intended, belief or not, it's a belief that involuntarily leads to him thinking that a person in a pair of Bron's cannot guard him on a basketball court. When you are playing against someone as superior physically as LeBron, the last thing you want to do is give him the idea that he's superior mentally as well. It may just be something as insignificant as your choice of footwear, but you never want to remind the unguardable that they're unguardable. There is a reason that Paul Pierce won't let Clippers players wear LeBron's, and it's not just because he doesn't find them aesthetically pleasing.