• Does ‘youngest’ really matter?



    The Miami Heat winning its second championship in the Lebron James era brings to mind how the media and the public worship athletes who achieve milestones at such a young age.

    At 28 years old, Lebron now has two championships, two Finals Most Valuable Player awards, four Regular Season MVPs, nine All-Star Appearances, and two All-Star MVPs in addition to one scoring title, Rookie of the Year Award, and ROTY scoring title.

    He also scored 25 points in his first game as a pro in the 2003-2004 season.

    But even if James can boast of having so many awards at such a young age, the fact remains that Michael Jordan was 6-for-6 in the playoffs, while James is currently 2-for-4.

    Jordan also collared more scoring titles and has a career scoring average higher than James, or 32.2 points per game vs. 27.6 ppg in the regular season, and 33.6 ppg vs. 23.2 ppg in the playoffs.

    Jordan also got his first championship at 28 years old after seven seasons, while Lebron got his first at 27 years old after nine seasons.

    This does not mean, however, that Lebron is nothing compared to Jordan. And we have yet to see the best of Lebron. What is also notable about Jordan is he joined the league at 21 years old, and it took him seven years to reach his first National Basketball Association (NBA) finals. So is being the “youngest” in achieving milestones in sports really matter?

    Mike Tyson became the youngest world heavyweight champion at 19 years old after he knocked out Trevor Berbick in November 22, 1986.

    But Tyson will never rank higher than Muhammad Ali in the list of the greatest heavyweight boxers. Ali was 22 years old when he won the world heavyweight championship.

    Wilfredo Benitez of Puerto Rico was only 17 years old when he won the world light welterweight championship on March 6, 1976. But he was beaten hands-down in fights with Thomas Hearns and Sugar Ray Leonard, and will never rank higher in the all-time great lists ahead of the two Americans.

    Maria Sharapova was only 17 years old when she won her first major tennis title at the 2004 Wimbledon. But today she struggles to even land in the finals (makes me want to sob endlessly).

    Now, let’s go to some “late bloomers” in some sports.

    Vitali Klitschko was 31 years old when he won the vacant World Boxing Council world heavyweight championship in April 24, 2004. He still remains dominant in the heavyweight division even though he is past 40 years old.

    Hakeem Olajuwon, one of the greatest NBA players of all time, won his back-to-back championships at age 31 and 32.

    Mixed martial arts great Randy Couture entered the sport at 33 years old and won the light and heavyweight championship there after.

    Football player Kurt Warner became Super Bowl Winner and Most Valuable Player at 28 years old.

    And there’s Bernard Hopkins, who at 48 years old, is still fighting crazy boxers half his age. So far, he has not figured in a humiliating loss and is still a hot name in boxing.

    Going back to Lebron, perhaps some quarters thought that he would have at least six championships when he would reach 28, because he had the size, speed, power, youthfulness and skills to make it big in the sport.

    But he may have realized that basketball is a team sport, which may have prompted him to go to Miami in 2009 to join Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. Suddenly, suddenly his aura of being a demigod was demolished.

    What Lebron and the late bloomers have to be happy about is they never fell to the wayside early in their career along with the high expectations of them.

    In fact, there are countless stories of young player with high expectations who failed to make a dent in their sports of choice. Should we blame the media and the public who place a terrific burden of expectations on their frail shoulders?


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