May 21, 2010, 2:43 PM EDT
LeBron James is hard to read because he has had a facade up for so long. So very long. Well before he became a pop culture figure whose name is tossed about in rap songs the bright lights were starting to find him. By his sophomore year in high school every serious basketball fan knew who he was. Reporters — not the local prep guy, national writers for places like Sports Illustrated — have been around him constantly since he became a teenager.
He started putting bricks in the wall early.
But some people have better luck at seeing what is on the other side of that wall than others. Scott Raab, a writer for Esquire, has been hanging around the Cavaliers for a year as part of writing a book. And he has no idea what happened to James in the Celtics series, or where he will play next year.
He did, however, have some interesting insights into James the person behind the wall.
This much I think I know: What Buzz Bissinger wrote in yesterday’s New York Times, about how maybe James is afraid to leave home — that’s truth. He needs structure and familiarity and stability and control, desperately. He’s a twenty-five-year-old kid from Akron, Ohio, forced from an early age to put on a brave face by his hapless mother. His number-one goal in life is not an NBA championship. It’s to protect her, and to protect himself. And I see no way for him to do that if he moves to New York City.
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