Roughly 20 percent of men start losing their hair in their 20s. One hundred percent of those 20 percent have issues. You don’t get sad because you’re bald, you get bald because you’re sad. That’s probably overstated (and wrong), but it has felt that way to every guy who’s helplessly watched his hairline recede while friends’ ‘dos remain proudly thick and lustrous. Why? we wonder. Goddammit, why?
But we know why.
I’ve watched a lot of LeBron James’s games, and I’ve seen his headband get knocked off before. What was amazing last night—beyond the insanity that included Mike Miller’s one-shoe 3 and Tim Duncan’s 25-point first half—was that the headband stayed off. He looked like a different person. Exposed. Gloriously human.
We got everything great and fascinating about LeBron in Game 6, once that headband came off. His team looked dead in the fourth quarter, certain to lose the title on its home court, when he went nuts. Eighteen points, from all manner of angles, in the fourth quarter and overtime. He also got bug eyes with a minute left. Chewed his lips and nails. He started taking bad shots and making turnovers. Even at the end of a frantic contest, with the championship at stake, LeBron was whining to the refs for foul calls.
Ray Allen took a lot of sh*t for leaving the Celtics to join the Heat. A veteran and champion, it was Allen who hit the game-tying 3 in the fourth quarter. Chris Bosh got an offensive rebound (you read that right) and had LeBron wide open, but Bosh lasered the ball to Allen instead. If he’d given it to LeBron, the Spurs would be champions this morning.
From AP: Somewhere in there, early in the fourth quarter, James lost his familiar headband. He couldn’t remember exactly when or how.
The headband vanished because God took it. In A Song of Ice and Fire, the books the HBO show “Game of Thrones” is based on, a key character facing trial for terrible crimes is forced to walk naked to court. It’s called the penance walk. The Faith, made up of Septons, wants you to show who you truly are in that moment of judgement.
Headband gone, LeBron was brilliant to get his team back into last night’s game. Then he choked in crunch time. When he was in Cleveland, LeBron’s end-of-game chokes meant certain defeat. In Miami his teammates are good enough to ease his burden, to take and make big shots. He isn’t alone any more.
LeBron’s baldness shows us is there is a normal man in that Freak Giant’s body. He has demons and insecurity. His triumphs have been awesome to watch, but there’s been failure, too, and he feels it. He had a triple double last night, and he nearly lost the title to Tim Duncan, whose hairline and cool facial expression never change.
Remember Jordan is to Bond as LeBron is to Bourne? Add this to the list of differences between LeBron and Michael Jordan: LeBron can’t just shave his head and slit throats. He doesn’t work that way. Neither do you, I’ll bet.
On to Game 7. I expect an inter-generational all-time battle of titans, with Duncan and LeBron both falling down dead from exhaustion as the final shot is floating toward destiny.