Have you ever noticed that LeBron James often wears apparel with a “T” emblazoned on it? That “T” that is often engraved across LeBron James’ hats and clothes represents the clothing line TACKMA, which is owned by Columbus, Ohio native Jeffrey Schottenstein. For those who don’t know, TACKMA stands for “They All Can Kiss My Ass.”
On his quest to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to their first NBA championship, you can say James integrated the TACKMA outlook throughout the NBA Finals. Being as politically correct LeBron is, it’s a fact that he’ll never utter the acronym that represents the company, but I’ll say it for him.LeBron rocks his signature TACKMA hat while watching OSU.
THEY ALL CAN KISS MY (His) ASS!
For all, if not of most, of James’ 13-year career, he’s been the most overanalyzed and ridiculed player that the game of basketball has ever seen. His shortcomings are highlighted so much because it’s hard to fathom someone who is as skilled, cerebral and physically gifted can struggle. In reality, LeBron is a genetic freak, and his all-world talents are usually only seen in video games. When LeBron loses, people just do not understand why, and when he wins, it’s never enough.
The skeptics berate James at any sign of failure, and they clamor for him to flop when he’s in a position to succeed. The litmus test set by the greatest player of all time, Michael Jordan, has some reasoning behind it, but it does not warrant the level of animosity, disgust and doubt generated during LeBron’s career. While many were looking to dethrone the King as Steph Curry awed basketball fans across the world, it was in the cards that people were salivating for the chance to have LeBron experience another miserable June.
For an alternate ending, LBJ brought an unlikely championship to the city of Cleveland, famously ending its 52-year major pro team title drought. James not only fulfilled his promise, but he did it the manner that hasn’t been seen before. The James-led Cavs became the first team in NBA history down 3-1 in the NBA Finals to win a title. And he did it against a historic Golden State Warriors team with the Coach of the Year in Steve Kerr and first-time unanimous MVP. As the challenges piled up en route to the championship, LeBron Euro-stepped around the obstacles that stared them in the face.
Trying to encapsulate the amount of criticism that LeBron has faced is unfathomable. To some, nothing is ever good enough, and whatever he does is often viewed under a microscope as if it were a science experiment spearheaded by Bill Nye the Science Guy.
In his first seven years in Cleveland, the pessimists suggested that he didn’t live up to the nickname of the “Chosen One” despite winning two MVPs and making it to the 2007 NBA Finals on the strength of him and him alone. Despite the massive amount of personal accolades and even team success the Cavaliers hadn’t experienced in decades, he did it while playing with guys such as Jamario Moon, Ira Newble, Eric Snow, J.J. Hickson, Daniel “Boobie” Gibson and a host of other un-notables. Not to slight the aforementioned players, but we saw the LeBron-less Cavs become frequent members of the NBA Draft Lottery in his absence. As the heartbreaking playoff exits became frequent, James joined his draft mates Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade in Miami.
While the weather was warmer than he was used to and the scenery was stunning, James received a cold shoulder, as he was viewed as a renegade for “The Decision.” Jerseys were burned, and the hate intensified for the already scrutinized phenom. In year one in Miami, LeBron fell short, with the Dallas Mavericks shockingly defeating the Heat. It appeared that LeBron would continue to come up short when it came to titles, and then the next two years that thought process vanished. After winning two championships, it appeared that things would change for the better, but for some reason, it’s easy for people to despise James.
Not even 24 hours after winning the first title in Cleveland Cavs history, the abhorrence is still at hand. Soon-to-be former ESPN talkie Skip Bayless gave a mirage of tweets that disparaged the recent success of LBJ.
Witnessing Skip and the other detractors denounce the success of LeBron, the TACKMA approach can and should be used. Despite the fact the champagne bottles are being sprayed from the Bay Area to Las Vegas to Cleveland, the popular belief that LeBron would fail remained — even during Game 7.
When Cleveland was starting to prepare for another disappointment, King James had other plans to revive his team as it was on life support. Just when the season appeared to be over, LeBron morphed into the unstoppable force that we know him to be. With back-to-back historic games in Games 5 and 6, James snatched the momentum from the Warriors. From hysterical objections about the games being “rigged” to giving the Warriors excuses for their shortcomings, it wasn’t noted enough how great LeBron was over the past three games in the Finals.
The way LeBron dissects teams is not the same as what Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan and the other greats did. To some, James’ meticulous approach is difficult to comprehend since he has the ability to go Super Saiyan at any given moment. When observing LeBron, he’s playing a game of chess, channeling his inner Bobby Fischer as he looks to counter his opponent’s moves. At times it can be scoring, rebounding, passing — or an insane chase-down block that was so remarkable that John Brenkus from Sports Science had to analyzed.
No matter whom he lines up against, he is a cut above the rest. Some may shoot better, some may defend better, but overall he’s the best player on the planet — and it’s not even close. In the one of the most epic NBA Finals in recent memory, he averaged 29.7 points, 11.3 rebounds, 8.9 assists, 2.3 blocks and 2.6 steals over the entire seven-game series. With this historic performance, the argument for placing him on the NBA’s Mount Rushmore has undoubtedly become more prevalent.
Two years before giving Cleveland the championship that eluded the city for many years, he said in his famed letter in Sports Illustrated:
“When I left Cleveland, I was on a mission. I was seeking championships, and we won two. But Miami already knew that feeling. Our city hasn’t had that feeling in a long, long, long time. My goal is still to win as many titles as possible, no question. But what’s most important for me is bringing one trophy back to Northeast Ohio.”
Thanks to the King, 50-plus years of an eternal “never” is no more. The two-time Finals MVP uttered in his post-game speech it will be the biggest party that the city of Cleveland has ever seen, and after decades of tears, false hope and pain, it’s only right to party like its 1999. Or more appropriately, 1964.
Years ago, LeBron’s method of chasing rings was in question, but in this case, there are no doubts about the TACKMA line of attack that was used with his third championship. His legacy as an all-time great was already cemented, and now he’s the Teflon Don when it comes to anyone coming for his basketball pedigree thanks to a familiar outlook that his friends in Ohio are all too familiar with.
Columbus, Ohio born. Ron is a first-ballot healthy hairline hall of famer. He spent the summer of ‘08 eating calamari pasta because of OJ Da Juiceman. He also loves to write about sports while listening to Sada Baby. Follow him on Twitter @Ron_Hamp