The Lebron James and Walter White Connection

Jun 28, 2012 3 Comments
Lebron James and Walter White

The Lebron James and Walter White Connection. James Photo By: Keith Allison

“It’s about damn time!”  Those were the exact words uttered by Lebron James to describe his first NBA title.  It was bound to happen eventually, right?  Well, I’m sure there are plenty of you who thought (and prayed) otherwise.  Still, James ability to finally get over the top was certainly not the easiest thing to come by.  A good guy to some, a villain to most, James’ rise to the top of the sporting world seems more like something out of a Hollywood script.  Cue the upcoming season of Breaking Bad, and my ongoing infatuation with televisions most polarizing character of all-time Walter White.

July 15th will mark the fifth and final season of AMC’s critically acclaimed drama series.  For those of you familiar with the series (shame on you if you’re not), Walter (portrayed by Bryan Cranston) exercised some of his own inner demons during last season’s finale.  After outsmarting the seemingly unconquerable villain Gus, Walter enters the final season searching for some salvation of his own.  Lebron James finally found his; can Walter do the same?

I’m sure you’re asking yourself, how in the world is the real life Lebron James and the fictional character Walter White similar.  Well, I must say, their relation is closer than you think (at least in my viewpoint, twisted as it may be).  Here are some points worth considering:

The Early Years

The implementation of twenty four hour news services and social media has led professional athletes to be scrutinized like never before.  Lebron James was at the forefront of this media transition.  After being dubbed “the greatest high school basketball player ever,” many of James senior year games were televised on ESPN 2 (2002).  Heck, LeBron even graced the cover of Sports Illustrated during his years at St. Mary-St. Vincent High School.  An instant media sensation, James’ popularity hit an all-time high following his number one selection by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2003 NBA Draft.  The “local kid made good” would be tasked with the dubious assignment of turning around one of the worst franchises in NBA history.

A brilliant mind, Walter teaches chemistry at J.P. Wynne High in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Although he seems intellectually superior for a setting such as this, he still finds it rewarding on a personal basis.  He has a wife (Skyler) the loves him, a son (Walter Jr.) that looks up to him, and colleagues that respect him.  All in all, life is good for Walt.

Correlation: Both Lebron and Walter are respected professionals within their individual endeavors.  Professional basketball offers Lebron with superior compensation, a fanatical following, and the ability to give back to the community he grew up in.  Not to be outdone, Walter can recite the importance of the Periodic Table of Elements without missing a beat.

Decisions, Decisions…Say Hello to the Bad Guy

James ego certainly played a huge part in his decision to go forth with a nationally televised announcement of his free agency intentions (June 8th, 2010).  I guess you can’t really blame the guy.  I mean, everyone had tuned into watch “The King” since way back when, why would this be any different?   Unfortunately for James, his nationally televised announcement backfired in a major way.  Come to find out, people weren’t enthralled with Lebron as much as he would’ve liked to believe.  He wasn’t the Pope, a King (real one), or a president.  He was just a really good basketball player.  Oh well, things couldn’t get any worse, right?  It’s not like he would compound the problem by appearing in a “parade like” introduction party.  Nah, he wouldn’t do that.

Walter's life threatening disease prompts a career change from high school chemistry teacher to drug manufacturer.

Walter has a seemingly decent life, before he is stricken with terminal lung cancer.  Growing medical bills, uncertainty about his family’s financial future (without him), forces Walter to make a life altering decision.  After seeing one of his former students (Jesse Pinkman) flee a meth lab crime scene, White has an epiphany that changes the course of his life.  A partnership is formed with Jesse to start producing/distributing methamphetamines.  The extra pay will enable him to pay for his medical bills, and set aside “a little something” for his family.  Walter transforms from law abiding citizen into someone who cooks crystal meth. Yep, it’s pretty safe to say that Walter is frowned upon by general society at this point.

The Correlation: Get out the pitchforks and start assembling the angry mobs!  James goes from media darling to one of the most hated athletes of all-time (virtually overnight) following his decision to play for the Miami Heat.  Fortunately for Walter, his decision to start manufacturing methamphetamines isn’t broadcast over national television.  Can you imagine the backlash from the PTA had that surfaced?

The Jekyll and Hyde Side Kick

Dwayne Wade use to be cool.  No, seriously, he did.  Once upon a time, a young #3 was leading Marquette to an improbable run to the Final Four.  Hey, even during his initial years with the Heat, Wade was someone who played with a “blue collar” type mentality.  What the hell happened?  Not since Jeff Goldblum’s transformation into “The Fly,” has an individual under gone such a stunning personality makeover.  Wade seems to be a shell of the player he once was, and that has more to do with his demeanor on the floor, as opposed to his physical abilities.  Is it a coincidence that this conversion took place the moment Lebron James “took his talents to South Beach?”

Jesse Pinkman (portrayed by Aaron Paul) is Walter’s right hand man during the series (well, most of the time).  Pinkman serves as a bit of a wildcard, as his unpredictability has been on display from day one.  Who can forget Jesse threatening to turn Walter into the police during Season 3 (even though you had the feeling that would never happen).  Or how about when he jeopardizes their initial business venture with Gus (steals product from lab and sells on side)?  And finally, who can forget the memorable brawl between Jesse and Walter in Season 4 (temporarily strains relationship)?  Love him or hate him, Jesse definitely serves as an unconventional sidekick.

The Correlation: Probably more of a reach by me at this point.  However, I will say, I find myself rooting for Pinkman far more often than I do for Wade.  Why is that?

You lost… “I won!”

After struggling in last season’s NBA Finals versus the Dallas Mavericks, James’ naysayers were out in full force.  Who cares if he had led the Heat to the finals in his first season with the team?  The only thing the general public remembers is that god awful introduction party at American Airlines Arena directly following “The Decision.”  Yeah, you remember the one with those famous words “not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven” (NBA titles for those of you not paying close attention).  After facing intense media scrutiny for the better part of a year (probably longer than that due to his past playoff failures), James delivered one of the better playoff runs of recent memory (perhaps of all time).  His 30.3 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 5.6 assists per game during the postseason translated into his first NBA title as a professional.

Lebron James brought home an NBA title, but will you ever forgive him? Photo by: Wally Gobetz

Supremacy in the drug game usually is determined by the survival of the fittest (or smartest in Walter’s case).  Once Gus figured out Walter’s relationship with DEA agent Hank Schrader (Walter’s brother in law on the show), things start to turn sour for him (as if they weren’t already…he has lung cancer for god sake).  Fearing he can no longer trust him, Gus fires Walter from his production business, and in return threatens the safety of his family.  This doesn’t sit well with Walter, and he quickly devises a brilliant plan to rid himself of Gus (one of the greatest scenes in television history).  With Gus now out of the way, Season 4 aptly ends with Walter telling his wife “I won.”

Correlation: Lebron James sheds some of his social stigma by conquering his ultimate goal.  The people in Cleveland still have a general dislike for Mr. James, but the rest of the country seems to be coming around.  Walter takes out the most dangerous drug distributor in the western United States.  Similar to James, he appears to be at the top of his craft (once again).

Nice Guys Finish…First?

I genuinely like Lebron James, I always have.  Aside from all the media hoopla, he is someone who respects the game (evident by his strong work ethic).  You wonder if he has learned from his mistakes in the past.  Time will tell, but he has certainly taken the correct steps to repair his public image the last couple months.

Walter has a likeable presence about him, always has.  Perhaps it’s the fact that the general public can relate to a character that has been dealt a bad break in life.   Hey, when it comes straight down to it “you gotta do what you gotta do,” right?  I think that saying holds even more weight when the well-being of those around you enters into the equation.   Let’s hope that Walter can begin to find some inner peace (similar to what Lebron is experiencing right about now) during the final season of Breaking Bad.

Correlation: Along with the rest of the nation, Lebron James will be eagerly tuned into AMC come July 15th.

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3 Responses to “The Lebron James and Walter White Connection”

  1. Sportschump says:

    Not only that, they’re both hooked on meth… or at least LeBron plays like it.

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