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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Interpreting the Many Shrugs of LeBron James

During the course of the 2011 NBA Finals, I began to observe a unique and distinct behavioral pattern of LeBron James. I’m sure you noticed it too. When a play occurred in which LeBron was in the proverbial mix, as soon as the referee blew the whistle to indicate a violation, LeBron’s shoulders would inevitably slam against his ears in an aggressive shrug of disdain and disbelief. This “whistle-shrug” relationship began to take on an almost Pavlovian association. I consciously began to try and count the number of times that LeBron shrugged and pleadingly looked towards the officials. As I watched, I began to think, “his shoulders must be getting tired,” “he’s gonna pull a muscle," “he’s going to bruise his ears if he keeps this up” and "that's how not get back on defense." After counting for a few games, the number of shrugs became obsolete due to the shear number of shrugs occurring in a single quarter. What started to become intriguing were the various types of shrugs LeBron was packing in his repertoire. I began to break down the various ways in which King James turned the seemingly simple shrug into an art form. The way he pleaded with Joey Crawford after a no call, the way he would power-walk down court, mouth agape and arms open, in disbelief of a 4th foul called. I categorized these shrugs so next season, you can impress your friends at parties with your knowledge of LeBron’s hidden talent, the shrug. I have graciously broken them down for you here:

  1. The “OH NO YOU DIDN’T!”

This shrug was usually seen after a foul called on the King, often times where the call in LeBron’s defense, could have gone either way. The “OH NO YOU DIDN’T was defined by LeBron’s eyebrows drastically lifted, flirting with his headband, mouth devastatingly ajar (I would be interested to take the diameter of that mouth, good lord.) with about a 5-second stand and stare. The usual post action to this shrug was a slow trudge towards the Miami Heat’s Head puppet Coach Erik Spoelstra and a seat at his royal throne. Unlike superstar counterpart Kobe Bryant, LeBron had the good grace to not casually whip a homosexual slur toward the official (at least not on National television).

  1. The “DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM!?”

Probably the most reoccurring shrug, the “DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM!?” was the King's direct response to the audacity the refs had not call a foul for his highness. After LeBron would go hard to the hoop accompanied by some contact from a Dallas defender, whether the shot was made or missed, LeBron’s brow would furrow, eyebrows scurrying away from headband, his lips would become pursed and the key component to the shurg, a strong power-walk down court. This power walk would frequently lead to a Dallas 5 on 4 cue, a Jason Terry triple, a Dirk elbow jumper or a Kidd dish to Chandler for a hammer dunk. The King’s whole demeanor screamed, “You son of a bitch! Do you know who I am!? I’m the King! Off with your head!”

  1. The “…………….”

Are you ever so pissed. That you speak. In a very soft. Slow. Disconnected way. Because you can’t. even. Believe. how. Pissed you are. While your body. Shakes in. violent. anger? “The “…………….” encapsulates this feeling. The facial expression is one of blank and austere demeanor, though you can see the anger boiling just below the surface. This shrug was not unleashed until the latter end of the series, as the Mavericks began to look more dominant. It took a trained eye to really see it in action, but I witnessed it a couple times when LeBron was on the bench or coming into a timeout. If I were to speculate, I think this shrug was concocted during the series.


This shrug was often let loose after a 7’ German assault of fade away, one footed enigmas of the human mind. This shrug needs no further description, because, lets be honest, we all saw it.

If the King hopes his legacy is one day compared to that of Michael Jordan, I suggest he cut back on the shrugging and complaining, and maybe get back on defense. All this belligerent arguing implies a weak will. I’m just saying, the only memorable shrug of Jordan’s was this one:

Court Adjourned

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