Burn Away All But Yourself
While finishing up some stuff for the forthcoming blockbuster, FreeDarko Presents: The Incalculable Basketball Tale of Blue Wiggins and His Jittery Groves, I had a magical romance with the following sentence: "And Moses turned, and went down from the mount, and the two tables of the testimony were in his hand: the tables were written on both their sides; on the one side and on the other were they written". Say what? That's Exodus, if you couldn't tell, according to the mysterious ways of prose that govern the King James translation of the Bible.
I think I heard a "King James." Where's my puppets? Ha. Gotcha. We all know why LeBron has been stuck with the nickname "King James"—duh, it's his last name, and he's a king among men. Also, it's like "The Chosen One" (which somehow belongs to way too many lesser players, too), but isn't blasphemy or quite so arrogant. As in, it pertain to magical events in the time of the forefathers, and their forefathers' forefathers, and Jesus. Except King James isn't in the Bible, or of the Bible: He's dude who oversaw the translation so that it might be accessible to oh so many commoners. He didn't even do the actual work himself!
LeBron, in a glib attempt to make himself sound awesome while still mining some small strip of divinity, has ended up identifying with an administrator. To be fair, the original King James did do something; he may not have spearheaded the project of translation, but he helped dictated the guidelines that produced the definitive, and crappy-sounding, version we lived with for so many years. You can read about the fine details of it over at Wikipedia. What I learned: The Puritans had some problems with the Great Bible and Bishop's Bible, and James "gave the translators instructions intended to guarantee that the new version would conform to the ecclesiology and reflect the episcopal structure of the Church of England and its beliefs about an ordained clergy." Worse than a feckless administrator, or empty figurehead-ed name—King James was a bureaucrat!
Let me reiterate: I do not think for one second that LeBron or his handlers researched this nickname thoroughly. It's Biblical. It goes with James. Hell, yours truly employs it all the time. It just sounds good. Triumph of branding, Nike is evil . . . but more on that later. First, a few of King James's other accomplishments, as they may do a little to prop up—nay, even explain—a moniker that starts to squirm when strapped in the creepy dentist's chair that is Real History, by Real Concerned History Citizens, a white power hate band video show that airs on Animal Planet. Hosted by this guy:
(Fair enough if you say I now sound like Bill Simmon chewing poison beetles, flipping through basic cable, and going to the movies once a week. We all have to change, we all become our parents, we all thereby face our demons and move on to making other people's lives' miserable. While, hopefully, we are lighter and more prosperous for it.)
King James was, in a word, amazing, and not in the Drew Barrymore sense. He got the Bible out to the whole wide world. Yes, the translation bears his name, but there's a reason that's the one we know: Subsequently, it was disseminated like no version before or since. Also, the King James Version made some very good but also, at the moment, supremely over-priced funky gospel LPs in the seventies. But I revert. The real King James was King James I, which I always consider a plus. He didn't dress up with a super hero alias or nom de drag when he took office. Or wait, that's just Popes. Monarchs just have a limited amount of names to choose from to begin with. In any case, Wikipedia again:
"James, the "Golden Age" of Elizabethan literature and drama continued, with writers such as William Shakespeare, John Donne, Ben Jonson, and Sir Francis Bacon contributing to a flourishing literary culture. James himself was a talented scholar, the author of works such as Daemonologie (1597), True Law of Free Monarchies (1598), and Basilikon Doron (1599). Sir Anthony Weldon claimed that James had been termed "the wisest fool in Christendom", an epithet associated with his character ever since."
How awesome is that? This guy really made it happen. But where is the creative agency of his own, or the transformative, that James needs other James to have when we bother to investigate the past? He did bring about major shifts in the way the King and Parliament got along, get embroiled in the 30 Years War, and have troubles with "The Spanish Match" (not a hooker) and "The Gunpowder Plot" (not an attempt to kill him with hazardous snuff). I hereby resolve that all future LeBron James exploits be branded with moments from this great monarch's career. W+K, are you out there? There's more, but I have to get on with my day. Fun fact: The period of his reign is referred to as either the Mirandian or Jacobean Era. Do not confuse the latter with more sinister times. Do, however, learn that "Jacob" is Hebrew for "James," with means I have to change my middle name to restore my birthright.
Still, nothing that really clicks with the commonplace sense of King James. Unless you like KJ1's refusal to break with the notion of divine monarchy. That's kind of the worst case for LeBron, no, or at least a really ugly tautology. You can feel free to repeal this pargraph and get back to eating your breakfast, suckers.
Here's a thought: You know how I always say that LeBron put Cleveland on the map as if it were a real market? Well guess what: We still know nothing about Cleveland, other than that it's the home of LeBron. Watch out, great King James I of England, you too can be adopted thus. Your career matters little, just that you were a king connected to the Bible. LeBron's attempt to, if not erase your accomplishments, then at least reduce them to a few faint themes (well, one), isn't stupid, it's corporate plunder. King James is dead; long live King James. Meet the new King James, same as the old King James, except in the ways that they have nothing in common, but that doesn't matter because the old one has his name on the Bible.
And LeBron will one day deserve his name on the basketball Bible. This type of shit happens every day. Don't worry, though. As demanded by Eric Freeman, George Hill still needs to answer for his "Madness of King George" nickname.
(That photo scares me.)
SOME NOTABLE ADDITIONS: The first King James I took power early, but didn't actually get in charge for some time, which might mean something. Though it's not flattering. Also, a very important man tells me that certain undesirables and numerology "kooks" believe Shakespeare translated the King James Bible. But that still wouldn't make Shakespeare into King James.